Conscience, not subject to majority rule
“If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.” (Nelson Mandela)
Truth is bitter, as the saying goes. The truth is, the Creator made man in his image without distinction. They were no majority and minority.
Truth in our day is suppressed but not for quid pro quo but for some to benefit from the ignorance of ignoble beings.
Can anyone make you inferior without your consent? Should people join in the majority race against conscience? “Never do anything against conscience” is an aphorism I grew up with. How is it that the majority of employees in the Civil Service in Nigeria has private businesses, and only appears at work when it is time to be paid their wages?
Why do the majority of activists only blame the Federal Government for all problems plaguing their region? Why do they not hold their governors and political representatives accountable for the under-development caused by their inability to bring development to humanity’s door?
Elsewhere, some care nothing for majority rule until elections are due to be held. Abraham Lincoln, in a bid to return sanity to the United States during the civil war, didn’t woo the court of public opinion when he suspended the Habeas Corpus Act.
He did so because he believed that conscience is not subject to majority rule. People with conscience do not have a violent agenda, are not narcissistic and are never intellectually lazy. They believe in a cause for the common good. Every day presents us with so many chances to shape our identities and empower the lives of compatriots.
But the lives of many people are not empowered in Nigeria. Behemoths at every corner dis-approbate the empowerment agenda. The national philosophy of Nigeria seems to be one of bigotry, lies and competition. And this gives rise to that feeling of false superiority that made an irredentist in a public place blurt out that, “Anybody who doesn’t believe in our cause is a fool.” This, in turn, propels many to create disorder in so-called minority areas to drum up support.
The logjam of majority and minority are worn around our necks like collars. It is the coinage of men bent on depriving people of stately opportunities. It is like this in America where the Blacks are called minorities by the Whites. But the Whites in their wisdom do not accord the Jews minority status. The Jews in the U.S. are a very powerful lobby group, treated with dignity even though they are not in the majority. African-Americans represent more than eight times the number of the Jews in the entire world. The Jews, however, do not give anyone the latitude to view them as oppressed, powerless victims.
In Nigeria, all we judge is where a man comes from so as to assign people to the plantation where lassitude is cultivated to limit the involvement of people to national life. Character isn’t as important as being a majority. Issues concerning people aren’t as important as being a majority.
Are we living a lie in Nigeria? Lies give people a feeling of powerlessness – that negative quirk that can lead to depression and anxiety because they have no say in their lives. And so when herdsmen go about terrorising people in the states of Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa-Egon, Kogi, nothing happens. Those states are peopled by the minorities after all. The marauders are goaded by the belief fed them over time: They are a majority and are a special breed. As special breeds their brief does not include disorder among their own kith and kin.
But as soon as they strike in Enugu, a zone for the majority, Nigerians go on a crying jag. Only then does the government become proactive and issues orders to apprehend the rampaging punks. The lives of the minorities destroyed for years in all the other affected areas, don’t matter.
The same discrimination applies to the pollution problems of the Delta. Nothing is done because the people there are called minorities which they might not be if large reserves of oil were found in Lagos, Kano and Enugu. It is obvious that people who coined the word “minorities” aren’t well-meaning.
The United Kingdom’s Magna Carta, a declaration that enshrined fundamental human rights, was signed in 1215, more than 800 years ago. How much longer will it be before Nigerians are offered the same rights?
Is the word “majority” tied to an ethnic group’s percentage of the population in Nigeria? Does the term “minority” have anything to do with numbers? I get the impression that these so-called majorities are on a mission to make so-called minorities feel like victims who had to be protected by so-called majorities.
According to Geddess & Grosset’s New English Dictionary and Thesaurus, definition of the word majority is: “ The greater number or part of; the excess of the larger number of votes cast for a candidate in an election, full legal age; the military rank of a major…..bulk, greater, mass, more, most, plurality, preponderance, superiority; adulthood, manhood.” I was hoping to see words like “superiority occasioned by numbers” but there is none. I thought I would see “special status” as a matter of course, conferred on people due to their population but saw nothing like this. I come to the conclusion that this coinage by man is a fraud.
(The same dictionary defines minority as “the smaller part or number; a political or racial group smaller than the majority group; the state of being under age.” Nowhere did it state that minority denotes a lack of power.)
People who have less support for their views are said to be in the minority and such people do not have to live under the facade bandied by the majority that they need rights provided by the majorities to belong to polity. I demur. We are all Nigerians.
If the Nigerian state truly desires to be great then she must eliminate the majority-minority twaddle that defines the Nigerian state. The current president can lead by example by going to places where he received minority votes. He should talk to the people there about their concerns, notably in the South South and South East.
This country, more than anything, needs economic growth, a victory against insurgency, and jobs. The majority-minority tag is a cheap distraction against life-affecting under-development.
According to Prof. Dele Owolawi, “Under the law of nature, man and societies are meant to evolve just as it obtains in the life-cycle of a butterfly from egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis to a full blown butterfly but ours seem to have gone the contrary.
“The question to be asked is, are we devolving? Did we leave undone what we ought to have done, or did what we ought not to have done as an individual or people?
“The Universe has a way of subtly imparting lessons to a race that have deviated from the path—a lesson of life. These lessons are far from being an act of punishment but rather a lesson of awakening from one’s state of slumber.
“As the law applies in the life of individuals, so does it in a nation, a race, and of course, in a global society. Let’s ruminate over what’s bound to happen if the analogy of the butterfly’s life-cycle is reversed, in no time, the butterfly will seize to exist. The butterfly will be going against its own set of divine rhythm.
“One may be tempted to question the rationality behind this analogy by saying we’re not butterflies after all, we are humans with freewill. Very indisputable fact, but is our freewill not meant to be channeled toward noble things for our own evolution and by extension evolution of our society/human race?
“If we all comply with the divine rules, not as a bigot though, and respect human laws put in place as a mundane extension of the divine laws to keep the society in balance, things are bound to work out well for all and sundry.”
Look at the whole United States election circus. Campaigns usually start two years before the elections and seem to go on forever. They cost billions and the money could be better spent on the homeless and the poor.
The girl-child despite campaign organisations here and there is not truly as empowered as she ought to be. The majorities do not lead the charge even when it is common knowledge that a healthy self-image improves confidence among young women, which is especially important for the development of future leaders.
The reason the word “minority” is applied to African-Americans but not to Americans of Chinese or Japanese descent, is that they have higher incomes, education levels and more stable family lives; even more so than many “whites”. Their populations are much lower than other racial groups in the US, making it obvious that they are not judged by their numbers. This says a lot. Let’s go get quality education of the mind, challenge the status quo but not to destroy it. Stop blowing oil pipelines like Pyromaniacs. Stop kidnapping, murdering, arson in ways Heinrich Himmler – would have envied.
Those who were sent to the hangman’s noose at Nuremberg deserved their fate. Years after the demise of an ex-general and poet another ex-general who was amongst many others that superintended over his fate, said he wasn’t sure if the evidence against him was properly cemented. Whither conscience?
• Abah, a teacher and writer, lives in Port Harcourt