Those Hausa People! Those Igbo People Those Yoruba People! etc
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
They are the worst people in Nigeria. They are responsible for all of Nigeria’s sundry economic, political and social ills and plethora of malaises! Those people! Not us! None of them from our backyards! None!
Too many Nigerians are liable to making those generalizations such as you read above. The above certainly represent unreasonable sweeping and intellectually lazy generalizations about any ethnic group in Nigeria, whether the Hausas, the Yoruba, Ndi-Igbo and any of the other ethnic and language groups Nigeria is comprised.
Too many Nigerians are too frequently engaging in debates of national issues concerning Nigeria, approached only from the prism of the ethnic hatreds, prejudices and bigotries against one other group or all other ethnic groups in Nigeria, except their own.
When Nigerians discuss corruption, it is now commonplace to have ethnically slanted list of supposedly corrupt Nigerians. I have had the privilege of living in different parts of Nigeria. I have traveled far and wide in Nigeria by land, and by air. And yet, I cannot claim to have interacted with any group of Nigerians or ethnic or language groups, so that I can claim to know how they “act” or likely to act in specific situations. Which Nigerian can actually claim to have interacted with 140 million of the rest of us upon which to claim to know us sufficiently and then pretend to speak to our idiosyncratic exactitudes? Why do we then speak authoritatively about “those people”?
Ninety percent of the time, these ethnic bigots are neither traveled, enlightened nor informed, and so, they do not in any way, know “those people” those Hausa people, those Igbo people and those Yoruba people of the engage in ignorant generalizations! How does any criticize a book which she has not read? How does anyone become an expert about millions of people in an ethnic group with whom he has not interacted? How do you spell stereotype?
A recent discussion of an identity theft case in New York City, led to senseless generalizations against a particular ethnic group. And soon after that, the news regarding the nomination of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, became another opportunity for ethnic bashing and claims and counter claims of ethnic superiority and ethnic flawlessness! There were those who were sure that Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi will not make a decent leader of Central Bank of Nigeria as governor, because he is from the North and may have a diploma in Islamic studies! Even despite the fact that Mr. Sanusi has been leader of a premier financial institution in Nigeria, the storied and fabled First Bank. And despite the fact that Mr. Sanusi was on tape speaking as someone with full grasps of all the essential issues in Nigeria, just as he has published opinions.
The fact and truth of the matter is that issues facing Nigeria have no ethnic definitions or solutions; or am I alone in this? I wonder if anyone can help me with this private challenge to resolve a national puzzle, which will eliminate our funk? Is the difference in our ethnic make up a major factor in our underdevelopment? Has ethnicity anything real impact on bad roads, underequipped hospitals and unemployment and general poverty? Or is it poor management of Nigeria’s abundant resources? We have poor managers from all ethnic groups, do we not?
It is the case that Nigerians and non-Nigerian are in perfect alignment in their conclusion that Nigeria is profoundly corrupt; this much is subsumed by persons, institutions and governments both inside and outside Nigeria.
Astonishingly, there is equally a perfect or harmonious agreement regarding the extraordinary and spectacular fervor, of religiosities of Nigerians of differing religious beliefs and practices. Except that these religious fervors have not translated into abundance of goodness on the ground in Nigeria. What is the purpose of religion after all? The purpose of religion is to preach animosities, mutual suspicions and disdains?
It does not take a person loaded or endowed with shards of critical thinking skills to notice the irreconcilable contradictory terms of reference here? How can Nigeria be so loudly religious and so loudly bigoted and loudly corrupt? Does a person have to be an oxymoronically gifted observer to spot admixture of oil and water of being religious and bigoted and corrupt? Which holy book preaches hatred of others with fervor?
How can Nigerians be such good Christians? How can Nigerians be such good Muslims? How can Nigerians be so holy, with Bibles and Korans and be pungently corrupt simultaneously?
How can a Christian governor Orji Kalu, Joshua Dariye be so monstrously corrupt? And how can a Muslim Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha so evilly corrupt? Why are so many who were governors of states recently, Christians and Muslims, be among those hunted and haunted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC? How is it that a governor whose state is known for its prayer warriors, or harsh Shariah laws, is able to so corrupt to the hilt, but presides over death penalty armed robbers and poor citizens bicycle thieves and the prayer-warriors have no dent? OK, then. How is it, that a fervently religious governor, an advocate of Sharia legal systems, which abhor looting and advocates amputations, beheading and stoning for poor citizens goat thieves, is the same governor who is accused of stealing billions of Naira in public money? No beheading for his loot ne?
Why is it that Nigerians who are fervently religious and even fanatical, are the same ones who are more passionate about their state of origin, even when it pertains to other Nigerians of the same religious beliefs, who just happen to be from another state or from another ethnic group? Are Christians from Hausaland, Igboland and Yorubaland any less of bigoted when it comes to North and South ethnic politics of bigotries? Are Muslims from Hausaland, Igboland and Yorubaland any less bigoted when it comes to North and South national gulfs of isolationism politics?
There is also this additional twist or sour flavor. Nigerians abroad are the most divisive of Nigerians. Some old questions must be asked here again and again to make and push these points and reemphasize them anew.
It must be again and again. Why are Nigerians abroad more vigorous in the defense of their ethnic group, home state and religion or region, than they would, when Nigeria is attacked? Why are Nigerians more ferocious when something is said of Hausaland, Igboland, Izonland or Yorubaland? Anyone who follows internet forums and debate about Nigerians and Nigeria would be quick to detect the docility in Nigerians when non-Nigerians attack Nigerians and or Nigeria, with or without justifications; and conversely, see the ballistic response, when and if identical charges were made by non-Nigerians against Igboland, Izonland, Hausaland or Yorubaland!
Again; you would be forgiven if you thought Igbo, Izon, Hausa and Yoruba etc are component parts of the multi ethnicities make up of Nigeria! It is the equivalent of wishing Ammaggeddon on entire human race while somehow wishing no ill or evil to your ethnic group which is an intricate part of the human race! How could you want to detonate atomic nuclear bomb unto the geographic space of Nigeria while hoping that your parochial and myopic goodwill toward your ethnic group, would extricate your ethnic group from the atom-nuclear blast with which you seek to wipe Nigeria off the earth map? How disingenuous or imbecilic-moronic?
Again; the act of serving, protecting and preserving Nigeria, is the beginning of elemental wisdom, for any Nigerian who seeks to preserve his religion, region, state, ethnicity etc. To think and or act otherwise, is simply tantamount to imbecilic infantilism, the act of shooting yourself in your feet or acting at cross-purposes with your best interests in the context of place, consistent with the best interests of the Nigerian nation as an indivisible whole.
Again; how can anyone wish his heart well, while wishing entire body rot and disintegration? How can anyone wish to preserve his kidneys or liver, without a care for the rest of his entire body?
When will Adamu be able to say he is a citizen of and from Anambra state even though his parents and grandparents were originally from Sokoto? When will Bola be able to say he is from Bauchi state, even though her parents and grandparents were originally from Oyo state? When will Chidi be able to say Ondo state even though his parents and grandparents were originally from Abia state? When will Adamu, Bola and Chidi be able to say they are natives of Calabar and no Nigeria bates an eye?
Nigerians should concentrate on how to make Nigeria a better place live, for Nigerians others who chose to live in Nigeria. But instead, some of are constantly redrawing ethnic maps of so-called ethnic nationalities of some anarchy infused separated nation states. There is poverty and disagreements in Oyo and Ekiti states, and you do not have to be of the Yoruba ethnic stock to see this; just as there is poverty and disagreements in Anambra and Abia states and you do not have to be an Igbo man to see this. Then again there is poverty and disagreement in Kano and Plateau states, and you do not have to be a Hausa or Fulani to see this. And in all these cases, the actors and the consequences are local and nothing whatsoever to do with outsiders from other ethnic or language groups.
There are some Nigerians who delude themselves into believing that a separate independent nation of their ethnic group will amount to some sort of utopia, where they are happy ever after. And so, they are variously awaiting the fantastic phantasmagorias Hausawa Republic, Oduduwa Republic and UmuIgbo Republic. All silliness and absolute nonsense when you think of it! I have known Hausas who squint to look at a Fulani or a Tiv, whether they are part of “pure” “core” North politics. I have known Yorubas from Ogun or Oyo who squint to look at Yorubas from Lagos and Ondo or Illorin as to whether they are genuine Yorubas and Oduduwa citizens and I have known Igbos from Imo, who squint as well at Igbos from Anambra, Port Harcourt and Igbos in Delta State as ethnically and linguistically incorrect Igbos, so these fantasies utopia republics of Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba etc would have soon enough have the frictions and tensions in their new republics as we have in Nigeria now, were the republics in these wild imaginations to come true. Why bother with these delusions?
Those clamoring for the much touted Sovereign National Conference and restructuring, as panacea, must brace for thirty six nationals rife and replete with poverty and arguments, and with the added headaches of visa bureaucracies! Nigerians should concentrate on making Nigeria what we want of her, instead of the distraction of pretending that we can create 36 or 37 nations out of the present Nigeria.
East and West reunited to become just Germany; we also see efforts by European Economic Community to have a single trading bloc, as it already has the Euro currency to compete with the US dollar and other currencies and economic spheres of the world. There are other such consolidations of nations and economic power blocs. Why are we late in the day thinking reverse engineering of our nation Nigeria? There are more benefits in our national diversities. I frankly do not see the benefits in disintegration of Nigeria. Just discussing it is wasted energy! Europeans see the advantage in selling ice creams or widgets to all Europeans instead of a limited opportunity available in just one European nation. Nigerians should become more expansive in their market attitudes, instead of parochialisms.
Kwankwanso does not agree with Rimi, they are both of same home state of Kano. Akala does not agree with his predecessor and they are both of the same state Oyo. Obi does not agree with the Ubas and they all of the same state of Anambra, that beleaguered state. All these people in Kano, Oyo and Anambra respectively are of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo same ethnic stock respectively, and they have variously accused one another and each other of corruption and inefficiency, ineffectiveness. So, the ills which Nigeria have confronted and still confronts are surely ills perpetrated by every political leader from every ethnic group. You can correctly say that ineptitude, corruption and plain idiocy is an equal opportunity afflictions suffered by every Nigerian politician from your hometown and my hometown.
Or you can remain blissfully ignorant in your belief that only people from my hometown are corrupt, inept and moronic, quite unlike the very nice people, the very educated merit oriented people from your hometown who never do anything wrong. And yes my people have ruined Nigeria, if your people were in charge of NEPA-PHCN there will be no need for generators in Nigeria causing pollution with noise and fumes. And if your people were in charge, there will be clean pipe-borne water in every home and there will be full employment or poverty would have ended etc. Yeah, delude yourself, dream on!
Blaming and bashing different ethnic group interchangeably, surely does not make any sense. Besides, it gives us all, false comfort. Instead of seeing challenges as national and universal to all of us, and seeing therefore the need and urgency to corral our synergy and wherewithal, to resolve to solve, we tend to hide our heads in ethic bigotry or jingoism. Some Nigerians engage in too much platitudinous accusations of one ethnic group after the other, a worse than useless and energy sapping process.
The challenge facing Nigeria and Nigerians is the creation of wealth and better management of our national resources. The fierce competition for resources breeds animosities and religion, ethnicities and religions are mere facades and camouflages used as candy or sugar coated inserts to deceive the gullible. Nigerians should refuse to be the petri dish for cultivating ethnic hatreds, we should instead learn to operate like the ants do, ants are often busy creating pathways, ants never clog each other, ants never have traffic jams, the ants are unselfish as they navigate individual and community interests. The ants carrying foods follow single inward path, while those going out to hunt follow double outward path, this is recognition by the ants, of the importance of preserving their kill, even as the need by other ant to hunt continues. Even the ants know their common interests for their common good!
How about Nigerians?
In my travels, whenever I meet Nigerians, I sort of light up. I am delighted instantly! But they will as a matter of course proceed to inquire without fail, about the local government of my birth! Why is the fact that I am Nigerian never enough? Why must I be pigeon-holed into a tiny local government or state? Frequently, this is in an effort by some, to be able to tell themselves that I could not possibly share their concerns, because I am not from their “side” of the Nigerian ethnic, religious and regional gulfs and divides.
But I do understand the impact of poverty, bad roads, power failure, lacks of clean water in every part of Nigeria.
I simply prefer a big picture and a bigger pool to swim. We will all do better, dabbling in Nigeria’s big pool of opportunities. I am not an arrogant person, but, I must make the point and it takes what may sound arrogant, to make my point. And here it is! Look, I am a big fish I swim in the giant ocean of Nigerian unity and diversities! I am too big a fish to swim in the shallow and muddy waters of ethnicities, religions, regions etc!
Adamantly then, I insist that I am Nigerian from all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja! I am Nigerian and that is good enough for me! I do not need or seek ethnic, regional or religious definitions or labels. How about you? I wish that I can influence all Nigerians to think, speak and act in the manner expressed in this paragraph. Nigerians should focus on actions which would develop and advance Nigeria’s worthy causes.
Similar articles by the same author can be found through a Google search, below is a partial listing.
1. The Benefits of Nigerian Unity and The Perils of Disintegration - published in April 2003
2. Adherence to The Rule of Law – published in June 2003
3. No Apologies For My Views Or Opinions! Rejoinder to Mr. Ihas Idriess – published in April 2003
4. Why Nigerians Should Forget Clamor For National Conference – published in July 2004
5. Nigerians Have Poverty in Common! (Why the Census Hoopla published in February 2007
6. South’s Poverty Is North's Fault? Nigerian Myth 101 – published in July 2005
7. Yoruba Gang Busted? – published in May 2009
8. Nigerian Citizenship Should be Redefined – published in June 2004
9. Biafra, Dead, Buried and No More – published in September 2005
10. Religion, Politics & Nigeria's National Unity – published in June 2007