Against campaigns dominated by wild fears

by Aliyu Isah Chiroma
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Little clouds of dust rise and hang on our air. Up to almost yesterday our minds were molded by fear. The question on our minds was: who will save us?  Not only save us but provide us an atmosphere that can shelter our souls. Today, we seem to live in a charged atmosphere created by the presence of terror and fear. In the last few years, we felt our identity as citizens is lost. There is this fear in our mind and we could not locate it inside our body. We identified blank spots within our bodies, our environment and even our souls. Now that we know what it was, after those years in exile, we could not still find strength and hope to fill that blank spot and the spot keeps increasing as we blink our eyes.

For some moment, the earth seemed different. The distress is obvious in our voices. We could not feel reassuring hands coming for our rescue as we keep navigating towards dangerous zones. There is possibility that those wounds on our body, mind and soul have been fatal. From our faces and voices, it said it all. We stood in awe without voice, a voice of action to take charge of our future. But within us, we want a different atmosphere

At times of fundamental change, such as the era we have found ourselves, we begin to ask more and more questions: where do we begin?  In our nation with an estimated population of over 217 million people, there are from soaring prices of commodities, high rate of unemployment and general scarcity of essential goods.  Our nation is afflicted by some ailment. The country is sick, very sick.

Looking at the present, we can confidently say that our new atmosphere of grief and depression is beckoning: farmers have been slaughtered at their farms, passengers set ablaze in buses, school children kidnapped, students murdered by their school principal, suicide bombers in mosques, church and market square. There are memories of EndSARS protest, ASSU strike and hunger that elude the knock and creaks of our society.

We keep visiting, and revisiting those memories which tear us apart. It is in those memories we remember our loved ones and a lot of stories that are yet to be told and which the future generation are not prepared to hear. But this is inevitable; we need to find a way to tell them in silence those stories to coming generations, in symbols and signs, which only the heart understands. They cannot ask, because those stories will turn their ears in dismay.

Today, we found ourselves sad and aimless. Our life in Nigeria appears to be ending, not because the world has ended, but because it became clearer that our streets, society, climate, and even our temperature had gone beyond our thoughts. We rather think now to tell the sober truth, which is the future we want. It is the hope we still have that keeps burning even at midnight when we don’t have certainty of seeing the next morning: a dream we keep nurturing for decades that keep us connected.

I think that there is always something frightening about this realization. I know it frightens me and others, but that was one of the reasons that I dawdled to write about the future we dream. I cannot escape those memories of the good old days after independence, when Peugeot cars were assembled in Kaduna; when Volkswagen in Lagos, and ANAMMCO produced buses and trucks in Enugu. When our economy grew and the rate of unemployment descended rather than ascended. Those were old memories when we go to school smiling because we knew we will return home safe, traveling across cities under the moonlight and arriving at dusk; going to farm what to eat without the fear of being slaughtered. I mean those days when we had large export and very low imports; when a father would return home at night with happiness, because his children would be awake waiting for him; when we live with loved ones before insecurity tore us apart; those days when we traveled through the northeast to the south and down to the northwest for our businesses; when we gathered in our places of worship or the market square to pray and buy our needs; when children from the neighborhood became your children and you a father to them.

It would seem those good old memories will never fade away unless one looks more deeply into the nightmare we are trying to awake from. But history is trapped in people and people are trapped in history. But I still believe we can still change our history by rewriting it. Not changing the past because it cannot be changed but using it to reflect our present time and create the future we dream. A future filled with promise that can change our situations and have an atmosphere, where nature smiles at us. We need to inject a degree of realism into a campaign dominated by wild fears and even wilder promises. We need the impossible dream that successive generations have searched for in the wilderness over the years.

The day is clear with extraordinary calm. It is a day such as this we get a freedom as a nation. Our history rolls across the plains, mountains, rivers and anything which has stood in our way. We need a future that can shape our society and make us courageous to face it. We need to take charge of our future and blow away the foul dust of history.

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