I recently read an article in one of those websites with the title “Nigeria’s ranking in failed state index: The north is finished”. In the said article a doctor used a report by the Fund for Peace and the magazine Foreign Policy report to blame the north for Nigeria’s woes and even postulated that Nigeria will fail and we will all go back to our different regions. He predicted that the “Igbos have vibrant and enterprising youth”, “the Yorubas will relish the challenge to determine their own destiny” and the biggest loser will be the north.
It is disheartening when this thinking is coming from the learned; people whose knowledge and experience should be an inspiration for others, surprisingly many have demean themselves and have become ethnic and regional bigots. They have allowed ethnic sentiments and chauvinism to befuddle their thinking.
If one blames the north, then who in the north? The northern oligarchy or the peasant farmer in the village?
If the report is anything to go by, then it is a collective indictment of all Nigerians, not of a particular tribe or region. If the truth must be told there is no tribe or ethnic group that can exonerate its members from that blame.
There are many problems with his postulations:
First, the writer assumes that all Nigerians must have origin from a particular tribe, not minding that many Nigerians have pedigrees from two or more tribes. So if the nation disintegrates where will those whose parents are not of the same region go to? He assumes that the nation will disintegrate into three regions only, why not eight or even disintegrates into smithereens? How do you expect people to just be uprooted one day from their home back to their states of origin?
Secondly, by blaming one tribe for Nigeria’s problem, he is saying virtue and identity are the same. The fact that one is Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa or any other Nigerian tribe does not mean he is good or bad. Someone’s virtue is different from his identity. To think someone is “good” or “bad” just because of his ethnic origin is ethically wrong. When Nigeria’s problem is being discussed, mostly people just focus on the federal government leaving the states and local government areas. If it is true that one tribe is “good”, let us see good governance and judicious use of resources from local government chairmen, state governors and ministers from that particular tribe as well.
If Nigerians allow the nation to disintegrates, each region will start the process of building a new nation, relocating people and retrieving their investments back to their new nations. The cost and repercussion will be enormous that it will not be in the best interest of any region.
What Nigeria needs now is for the common man to stop casting aspersions and pointing accusing fingers on each other and know who the real enemy is; the real enemy is not the peasant Hausa farmer or nomadic Fulani herdsman or Igbo trader; the enemy is not the close-door neighbour that is not of the same ethnic or religious belief with them, the real enemy is the Nigerian oligarchy made up of plutocrats from many Nigerian tribes. They can be retired military, police, custom officers, civil servants, politicians or wealthy businessmen. They have connived to loot the nation’s treasury. The common man is busy pointing accusing fingers on each other, while they dine and smile during weddings of their children, naming ceremony and celebrating marriage anniversaries. To them regional, religious or ethnic difference is not a barrier to their association. What matters is how much has accrued in their bank account from their shady deals.
Nigerian academics and professionals should not be gullible to join the bandwagon of ethnic bigots and chauvinist. By joining that bandwagon, they will only set a bad example for others to follow. It is high time Nigerians tell the oligarchy that enough is enough, we need change now.
Dr Dahiru writes from Kano. firstname.lastname@example.org