Nigeria: Pathway To Healing And Reconciliation

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By Richard Odusanya

To move beyond our collective pain to a place of healing, we must begin by addressing the mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of Nigerians just as urgently as we put in place strategies for civic and economic renewal. As such, Federal and state support is vital. But because we are a nation divided and federal action has been slow in coming, comprehensive actions at the local and state levels show the greatest promise to save lives and promote widespread healing.

Interestingly, we had a semblance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a body assembled in South Africa in 1996 after the end of apartheid. Authorised by Nelson Mandela and chaired by Desmond Tutu, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo set up The Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, also known as the Oputa Panel. Uncharacteristically, there was no reconciliation and very little healing, if any! Of course, none can be referred to.

As a nation destined for greatness, we should purge ourselves from bitterness. Across our beloved country Nigeria, there is growing acknowledgment of the impact of ethnicity and religious bigotry on the health of individuals and communities. For example, some criticisms against the Airline’s choice of Igbo attire “Isi Agu” as the dress code for its crew members during the recent launch of its Lagos to London flight is a pointer to the need for a purposeful National Healing And Reconciliation.

Unapologetically, I celebrate and thank Dr. Allen Onyema and the Air Peace family for pulling this through for Nigeria. It is amazing! This very positive and awesome narrative is the best Brand Image for the country in many decades. Air Peace has done well and even if they choose to name each plane after any tribe they wish, it is within their rights to do so. No one should be vilified for projecting their own culture on their property.

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Quite sad, this is a serious cause for concern about how our country has degenerated and deteriorated in recent years. Particularly, during and after the recently concluded 2023 general elections. The inaugural flight of 31st March, which is a historic event for the airline was anchored by its chairman, Dr. Allen Onyema, who wore a black shirt, trousers, and a red cap. While some of its cabin crew wore plain shirts, jackets, and trousers, others wore Igbo outfits. The ladies rocked red caps to complement their attire, and it got the attention of many people. The million-dollar question to ask – is it, a case of different strokes for different folks: “Isi Agu” customary attire, good for everyone; or bad for Air Peace Cabin Crew?

Sadly, resentment thrives on negative feelings and grows more powerful when we are unwilling to forgive and release emotional pain. A nation does not progress by itself but it is the citizenry that makes it progressive. For a nation to progress, it requires patriots, those who have pride in being a part of it, to contribute the same in as many ways as they can. For a nation to progress, it needs a critical mass of citizens who know what progress looks like.

“Let me continue with the profound words of Marianne Williamson, Marianne soberly posited: “The wound is not my fault but the healing is my responsibility” The solemnity of Williamson’s words signposts the beginning of an era that reflected in the statements of 21st March 2023, in which the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, as he then was. He called on Nigerians to forget about the pains, disappointment, and agony that trailed the 2023 general election and create ample time for healing. Therefore, our ability to foster UNITY and LOVE is the pathway to healing and reconciliation.

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President-elect Tinubu, solemnly posited: “We must take urgent steps to unite the people; those who voted for us and those who did not. We must champion the healing process by embracing the opponents and their supporters. As I have stated previously, the time for politicking is gone. This is time for nation-building, a task beyond one individual or a section of society. We need every hand from wherever it may come to be on deck.

The then President-elect continued: “I am ready to work with you all as your President. I will be a worthy partner you can trust and rely on as we all bond together, in unity of purpose and renewed hope for, the betterment of our blessed country and beloved people.” dear President Bola Tinubu, this is the time to walk the talk, rebuild our nation and RENEW-HOPE.

Before I conclude, I need to be clear; based on the things I observed and experienced. Leaders set the tone for the rest of the team members. Therefore, Mr President, the main task of the moment is that of ‘NATIONAL HEALING.’ Therefore, President Bola Tinubu (PBAT), must be deliberate with the need to pursue a programme of genuine national RECONCILIATION.

It should also be noted that no matter what he does, the President will not necessarily win everyone over. PBAT should come to terms with the fact that some people may still not accept him as their president and some can never stand his person and politics. But this should not stop the President from trying and trying with all sincerity to foster love and genuine RECONCILIATION.

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Today’s Nigeria is a country crying for HEALING. Our country is more divided today than probably at any other point of its history, save for possibly the 1967-70 civil war, not even the June 12, Abiola’s eras. The principal task of reconciling the country with itself lies with the man at the helm. Therefore, we need to revisit the issues of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC different from the failed Oputa Panel.

In conclusion, permit me to share the joy of a delightful Eid-El-Fitr filled with LOVE. As the beautiful moon shines in the sky, I join our beloved brothers and sisters in faith to celebrate the holy season. Eid Mubarak!

Richard Odusanya

Richard Odusanya
@Richard_Odusanya is 9News Nigeria special guest writer on Politics, Africanism, African Emancipation and Humanitarianism
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