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Pre-election year and the need for caution

In 2010, my countrymen and women scaled all divisive barriers to speak and work for Nigeria. Ethnic and religious sentiments, majority and minority dichotomy, as…

In 2010, my countrymen and women scaled all divisive barriers to speak and work for Nigeria. Ethnic and religious sentiments, majority and minority dichotomy, as well as political differences were majorly discarded in relation to national political issues and challenges in that pre-election year.
There is no gainsaying that the National Assembly was actually inspired to evoke the popular doctrine of necessity to eventually solve the succession crisis heralded by the protracted illness and eventual death of the late president, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua. It was a pan-Nigerian struggle in which all that mattered to everyone was the survival of the country as an indivisible entity. It was a struggle that eventually shaped our electoral destiny in 2011, which was globally acclaimed peaceful, free and fair in spite of the widespread anxiety and negative speculations that preceded it.
For me as a trade unionist, our country really owes that success to the patriotic and undying zeal of ordinary Nigerians to survive all odds at all times. Our people chose to tread the path of honour and dignity.
It is against this background, and as we approach another important year of national destiny, that I have deemed it important to blow the whistle of caution for Nigerians, especially my colleagues in the transport sector.
Apparently, the choice we make in 2014 through our individual and collective thoughts and actions would constitute our scorecard in 2015.  Indeed, it would be hypocritical to pretend that all is well with our country at this point in time. The challenges are too numerous and obvious for the blind to see and the deaf to hear.  It suffices to say that the current socio-economic and political indices are different and more frightening than those of 2010/2011.
In terms of security, our people are no longer comfortable to move around the country. A lot of lives have been lost and numerous properties lost. In fact, the spate of insecurity constitutes great impediment to trade and commerce, which has also led to hunger and devastation.
At the political level, the atmosphere is as hot as ever. While the government of the day has been unrelenting in its quest for a solution to the seemingly intractable national question, the opposition has become more daring.
The unsavoury situation in the country recently forced the federal government to propose a national dialogue. This exercise is expected to give Nigerians the opportunity to discuss their affairs and subsequently agree on the way forward. Unfortunately, as we prepare for the dialogue, a lot of people are already crying foul and pointing accusing fingers at those in positions of authority who are on the other side of the divide.
The truth, at this moment, is that we are at the crossroads. While the constitution has set a timeline of 2015 for the next leadership change at the federal and state levels through the ballots, the worsening socio-political and economic realities have been a tolling bell on our collective consciousness to speedily invent some creative solutions, such as the planned national dialogue.
As the leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), a union with the widest network, my take is that it is only sincere patriotism on both sides – the government and the governed – that can help in our present race against time.
Concerning the bickering over the proposed national dialogue, it is obvious that the problem is the long-standing mutual distrust amongst the elite.
To attain our desired goal, government must, as a necessity, avoid joining issues with its critics. At this point in time, it does not matter whether certain criticisms are constructive or destructive; sincerity from the government in all its policies and actions will convert its worst enemy.
The truth is that the onus lies on Nigerians to make their country great; absolute power belongs to the people. If we speak and work for peace in our individual homes, motor parks and other places of work, mosques, churches, etc, the result would be unity in diversity.
As road transport workers, we occupy the vantage position to help re-orientate our passengers nationwide. We can do this through our conducts and words while in transit. Our charity, as they say, must begin at home. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Usman Yasin is the national president, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

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