By Patrick James
To work at any form of sustainable development without peace in a society is like building a house without the foundation.
Peace is the solid pillar upon which the building blocks of sustainable development are erected. Sometime I here people talking, planning or wishing for sustainable development in a destabilised, disorganised environment that knows no peace and I laugh! I laugh because I know its practically impossible – it is absolutely a mirage! You can pray from now till eternity. You can fast from mecca to Jerusalem, there would never be sustainable development in any country that is at war with itself or with another country. Sustainable development is the fruit you reap from sowing consistent peace in an environment. Growth and development always go after any people or place where peace resides while backwardness and underdevelopment is the reward a people get for going into rioting or war. Take for example during the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970, where the eastern part of Nigeria was the major battle field, young men and women who were suppose to be the engine room driving the forces of growth in the country were been slaughtered mercilessly at the theatre of war – a meaningless war that brought nothing other than stagnation and retardation to the people of Nigeria. Till this very day, the eastern part of this country are still suffering from the negative effect which has slowed down development in that part of the country fifty years after. War does not only slow down development, it completely hampers the growth and development of a people. War does not only demoralises the psychological well being of those affected, it also drains the scarce resources which should have been used to better the lives of ordinary citizens into purchasing of arms armoury and ammunitions to execute the war. Money, energy and time that should have been earmarked for meaningful projects that would create employment opportunities for innocent citizens is use to buy sophisticated weapons to kill, maim and displace innocent citizens of a country. This will further impoverish the vast majority of people sinking them deeper into abject penury. This is why even when the war has ended, the country still remains poor. Since the citizens are poor, they cannot save, if they cannot save, they would have no money to invest. Without investment, their won’t be economic growth and without growth there will never be anything like sustainable development. Persistent peace in a society automatically attracts foreign investment.
Today, Switzerland is one of the most developed nations of the world due to the peaceful country they have maintained over the years. The constitution of swizerland stated it clearly that under no circumstances whatsoever should the country go into war with itself. They did not only wish for peace they made laws that would ensure a stable and peaceful country. What then is stopping Nigerian from making laws that would ensure lasting peace in the country? What then is stopping Nigerian from making corruption a capital offence? What then is making the Nigeria government to keep fighting insurgency or terrorist with kid gloves? What then is stopping Nigeria to abolish indigens and non indigen dycotomy in every state? Today, virtually every criminal in Nigeria wants to take our stolen money to Switzerland. The country has a roboust economy and the Swiss bank is one of the world leading financial institutions.
Rwanda of yesterday, has now become the investment destination for most investors coming into Africa. Investors are ready to pump-in millions of dollars into Rwandan economy due to the peaceful co-existance now existing between the Tutsi and Hutu. Rwanda is now the tourist attraction of most people visiting the continent. They recently launched an indigenous mobile phone manufacturing company. All these meaningful developments and many more are as a result of the peace and tranquility they are enjoying presently. We won’t be wrong if we boldly say peace is a sine-qua-none for the sustainable development of any country. We won’t be wrong if we say Nigeria needs to invest more in building peace among It citizens of different culture, region or religion while also injecting funds to stimulating economic growth and development.
We won’t be wrong if we make the fight for a peaceful society our topmost priority rather than spending billion in the purchase of weapons to fighting war or insurgency. We won’t be wrong if we invest more in finding lasting solutions to religious, cultural, ethnic or regional bigotry. An investment in peace is the best investment this present administration can give to the Nigerian electorate because without peace nothing works! Thanks for reading, God bless you!
BY PATRICK JAMES