By  Victor C. Ariole
Hatred, malice, evil hearts almost dispatched Rwanda to kingdom-come…If Nigeria dies, whether now or in future, hatred killed her. Let us carry those bishops and pastors who spew hatred from the pulpit, and bring them to the genocide museum in Kigali. – Femi Adesina.
The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the podium much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely and accurately, I told her not to bother, word gets out anyway.
–Donald Trump.
One of the raisons d’être of democracy is freedom of speech of citizens, though not necessarily extended to freedom of speech of highbrow office holders who must be seen serving the people hence restrained by the oath they took to be bound by the constitution of the country. Somehow the duty of the image maker or mouthpiece of the No 1 citizen remains toeing the lines and teachings of the Public Relations’ practice, which lean on blowing up the strength of the No 1 citizen and downplaying his/her weaknesses.
Seeing in USA   as, somehow, a  best practice approach, Sarah Sanders was initially doing a good PR job for her principal till the man felt it was not necessary for the kind of image he wanted for himself and Sanders started adopting ‘parroting’ approach, so much difficult for her to sustain; parroting the man and setting aside the PR practice; and not so long in the job ,2 years, she stepped aside and still found herself useful to be nominated the Governorship candidate of Arkansas, a contested Republican primary. Come 8th of November 2022, she is expected to be the Governor of Arkansas. One doubts if her Nigerian counterpart could enjoy such confidence of the people. Sarah Sanders knew why Trump won the 2016 USA election by collegiate votes and not by popular votes, and it was because the USA/Republicans’ collegiate mindset/votes, as articulated by USA’s constitution, mattered in the assertion that supports “taking back their America” that seems to have been left inundated by “DACA Parents’ immigrants” (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) and as well as leaning towards unchristianly.
In Nigeria, the coalition that made it possible for Adesina’s principal to assume the No 1 citizenship of the country was premised on either hatred of one man – his predecessor, or the complaints that that one man was governing in exclusion of a section of the country. In effect, either hatred or exclusion of a section of the country, became an anathema of governance that must be seen as a weakness that must be downplayed. So, like Sanders’ failure to downplay such traits, – though encouraged by her principal, that allow for disintegration of the country – see her as unpatriotic, hence the adoption of the approach of parroting her principal.
Most of the statement his principal makes that connote hatred is parroted by Adesina. Nigerians after fighting a civil war, which Rwanda never did, are in better stead to appreciate what it means to avoid war or what it means to downplay hatred in their midst. And they seem to have been seriously provoked by Adesina’s PR opprobrium like referring to pastors and bishop who still remain patriotic. In effect, misunderstanding of the different sections of the Nigerian state seems to be what needs to be remedied and not over blowing hatred as Adesina insinuated. Admit differences and collapse them for superior values, so insinuated Sir Ahmadu Bello who was able to do that for over 300 minorities in the North, now being subjugated by mostly two major groups who had all along misunderstood why these immense minorities had once centered their grievances against the southern groups; not seen necessarily as hatred, but seen as a powerful group and that leaning on a great leader could get them corner the greater share of the national cake – anachronistically and burdeningly baked in the south as if there is no cake in the north. It is time to make the cake available in the north for all Nigerians.
A guest on Channels TV on Saturday, anchored by Ayo Makinde (2nd, July, 2022), seemed to have a better understanding of the Nigerian state than a greatly paid official like Adesina. It is not hatred; instead, as he put it: one section is feudal-minded and people there believe and obey what the god father says; another section – south west – listens to the god father on the condition that considerations are attached, otherwise they could act as being sent on an errand as a slave and they get the message delivered as a wise person; and other section – south south and south east will ask: who the hell is that god father. Hatred, malice, evil heart expressed by individuals or a collective group, as said by Adesina, are lesser evil than seeing either the feudal lords or the godfathers that assure stomach infrastructure for their followers, as well as those who do not care for either feudal lords or godfathers – completely excluded from governance – including seeing those who are hated on the grounds of staying put to the realities of republican state being told “I don’t like you” or “you gave me only 5% of the votes as a sign of hatred. When in deed, it could stand as genuine and constructive opposition, very healthy in democracy. If on that basis a given section appropriates to itself the collective wealth of all Nigerians in a squander mania drive, it behooves the rest of the section to acknowledge that there is need to rethink the drowning process of the nation so as to avoid collective suicide.
Political culture or behaviour of Nigerians or its sections is not supposed to be herds culture prone where everybody must join the expected god father driven train.   Diversity obliges that some people could differ and it must be respected. However, the governance process must align with obeying the constitution that says no one should be discriminated against on any basis; even if you assume the person hates you. The pumping machine, like in irrigated farm, which is the government at the centre must administer the water in equitable centrifugal force to reach all the corners and cranies of the country ; that is being inclusive  as there is no how the 36 states in Nigeria must align themselves to either feudal, godfather or “I don’t care about godfather” approach.
Come to think of it, the three approaches are competing approaches and should not be seen as evil capable of eliciting hatred or evil hearts as Adesina sees. When Pastors or Church leaders talk, it is like relaying the aspirations and fears of their people which governance should take note of and not see as hatred or evil. Afterall they are not entitled to carry guns like bandits  in the north seemed to have been allowed. Rwanda with less than 15 million people, and only three major ethnic groups competing, was misruled by General Juvenal Habyarimana, who felt he had greater allegiance to the Hutus who constituted 85% of the population than the 14% Tutsis and the extinction-bound 1%Twa – Pygmies to the detriment of the entire Rwanda. Compared to Major Paul Kangamé, a Tutsi, who had a greater sense of inclusiveness of all the citizens, including having 50% of women in his government and the National Assembly with no hatred or malice intended against anyone. One notices that General Juvenal who was nicknamed Kenani – the invincible- by his Hutu followers and who departed this world on the 6th of April 1994, seemed to have departed with hatred and evil heart, leaving Rwanda under Kangamé to be governed towards an inclusive and peaceful country; notwithstanding its checked worries at the borders where most of Hutu trouble makers are pushed to – mainly Congo DR, Uganda and Burundi. Even the border citizens of all these countries are even enjoying the economic buoyancy of Rwanda, hence unwilling to corporate with such Hutu trouble makers or insurgents. That is love prevailing over hatred spewed by inglorious PR approach.
Nigerians need inclusiveness in governance so as to playdown whatever is insinuated to be hatred or evil heart. And the respect of diversity has always proved that it begets prosperity as against the practice of nepotism and parochialism; and, it is also the predictor of peaceful living among peoples of competing approaches to economic wellbeing, and that is what freedom of speech and press prevails upon to keep governance on its toes, to avoid governance of exclusion. And, mind you, by the time Federal Government and ASUU duel would have been over, you could count no fewer than the number of buried people in Kingali as Adesina claims, (250, 000), students, jambites, lecturers and small business people who depend on universities either dying or suffering from PTSD, Chemical dependency, drug addiction; traumatised or drained away from the system; and Adesina would have seen what is greater evil than hatred as, indeed, he must be seen as the one spewing hatred and not the Pastors or Bishops who are now attending to the souls of the dying and traumatised one.
Ariole, PhD, Professor of French & Francophone Studies, University of Lagos

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