Monthly Archives: November 2016

NIGERIA AND THE POLITICS OF DIFFERENCE AND DIVISION

What is it that makes us identify with other people as we go about our daily lives? What is the natural context for human existence and interactions? We tend to gravitate towards people who we believe are like us, even if we don’t know them. We tend to trust more people we believe have same fears as we do and see the world as us. Simply put, the natural format of human existence is Tribal. This could be based on ethnic, colour, language, geography, faith or any other emblem of collective similarities that exist. So when a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-faith nation is being formed, you are fighting against the natural tribal nature of humans. You are trying to bind together people who do not naturally see themselves as together. 

Good and visionary leaders will try to construct new threads and narratives that link people together in the name of national unity. They appeal to higher goals of our common humanity and communal interdependencies so as to engender a spirit of oneness and nationhood. Where such leaders do not exist, people will naturally backslide into their tribal caves bit by bit and It will soon become a fractured nation of they and us.

It is sad that in Nigeria, the people allow themselves to be used by politicians; who will fan the flames of ethnic and tribal sentiments to win power and then go ahead to cooperate with all ethnic, religious and tribal co conspirators to divide our commonwealth amongst themselves. The Dasuki List contain politicians from all ethnic, tribal, religious and geo-political zones. They were indeed one unified nation under God when it comes to corruption. But they become divided and tribal when campaigning or when being prosecuted.

It is a shame to read the nonsense from Femi Fani-Kayode over the past few days on his incarceration experience with the EFCC and meetings with Kanu in prison. I believe everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but Fani-Kayode is found of using intellectual veil to disguise his fallacious and inconsistent diatribes. You need to read between the lines so see that he is pursuing his own personal agenda and does not represent either the Yorubas or Nigeria. How much of the money they shared did he invest in his ‘beloved’ Yoruba communities? Like Asari Dokubo who made Billions under Jonathan but invested practically all of it overseas in neighbouring countries and practically non in Nigeria. How many Niger Delta citizens does he employ? You claim to fight for a people and yet give your jobs to foreigners. Such hypocrisy is symptomatic of Nigerian politicians and many activists.

The summary of my blog is that even in tribes, there are families of various status and rankings that comes together. My point is that a tribe is bonded together by separate unitary and separate lines of division; just as a nation glues together different tribes and faiths. We cannot always retreat to our tribal bunkers every time we are aggrieved. We need to understand that we are all now interdependent on one another.

Nigeria_politicalDuring the Janjaweed massacre in Darfur, the world joined forces to condemn (rightly so) the atrocities of the Sudanese government against South Sudan people and rebels. The global narrative at that time was of a war between the Muslim north and Christian South in Sudan. The South appeared as if they were an homogenous Christian people fighting for independence from a tyrannical Islamic North. Well few years later, the Christian South Sudan gained independence from Sudan and became the newest country in the world.

As many of you will know, the “united and Christian” South Sudan that appeared as a united and homogenous group during the war of independence have been fighting each other ever since. Over 100,000 people have been killed not by the Islamic North, but by the “Christian” South Sudanese themselves. They fought side by side to break away from the North, only to turn the same guns on each other after independence. They have now divided themselves by their different ethnic and tribal groups even though they are all still mainly Christians. There has been no peace in South Sudan since. So their assertion that their problems were wholly from the tyranny of the main Sudanese government has been shown as a fallacy. They were united fighting the North only to gain independence and start killing each other. This is a lesson for every nation who tries to play the tribal card. Today, Kanu and his likes want a Biafra Republic, because they feel hard done by the nation Nigeria. If there is ever a Biafra Republic, I can guarantee there will begin new internal war and fighting between constituent tribal units of the new nation and the usual pattern will repeat itself.

So the solution is not breaking our nation up, but agreeing that just as corruption can bind all our leaders together in common purpose regardless of their ethnic and tribal origins; Nigeria can be governed as a unified nation if we get the right leadership in place. There is already a proof of concept in place. The leaders come together and united when it comes to stealing. That shows unity can achieved if that passion is turned towards more constructive activities. If they can unite to steal, then it is possible to unite to rule a cohesive nation; bound by lofty goals of our fathers.

So Nigerians, don’t allow yourselves to be used and abused by these rascals called politicians and militants. Don’t allow the flames of division to thrive amongst us. These people are not leaders they are thieves and politricians, who trick the people for their own personal gains. Let us become faithful, loyal and honest to our country and make their days numbered who will not fight for the unity of our collective purpose and destiny as a nation. It is time to wise up. We are more united than we give ourselves credit for. God bless Nigeria.

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NIGERIA, A NATION OF CONTRADICTIONS FUELED BY IGNORANCE

One fact I have always accepted is that if everyone on this planet were like me, this will be a boring place for us all. Hence the diversity of temperaments, likes and dislikes make the earth a more dynamic, adventurous and interesting place to live. But looking at the socio-cultural posture of Nigeria, it is clear that inbuilt contradictions exist in most Nigerians and many are not fully aware of it. On one hand we criticize others from another ethnic group for behaving in a way that seems in consonance with their perceived cultural or religious believe (even if misguided); yet we try to claim an hegemony of our own cultural or religious values. So we are right and they are wrong; even if we do the same things we criticise them for.

A perfect example is the sad case of an Igbo woman who was killed by mob in Kano for allegedly insulting Islam. This was an horrific crime committed on an innocent lady and there can be no justification for it. There was rightly a national outrage and condemnation of this barbaric act by many fellow Nigerians. nigerian-police-abuse

But any social media user would have seen the weekly videos and pictures of suspected thieves or kidnappers being stripped naked, beaten and even killed all over the Southern parts of Nigeria; from Lagos to Port Harcourt to Enugu. So my question is, what is the difference? In Kano, an ignorant mob killed an innocent woman for alleged infraction of their religious sentiments but all over the south we frequently assault and even kill suspected “criminals” based on our mob justice and synthetic outrage. Which is worse?

Truth is we are all guilty. The fact that the motivations differ does not make the crimes any different. The foundation of our criminal justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. This safeguard exists for a good reason. All over southern Nigeria, I have seen cases of the mob supporting and praising the police for beating in public suspected criminals. But who decides guilt? I will tell you a story to illustrate this foolishness of a shameful national pastime many engage in. This is a true story.

Chinedu a student in Lagos called his fairly well to do cousin Peter for help to pay his school fees due in a week’s time. So Peter asked Chinedu to meet him in Ikeja so that he can give him some money. Their rendezvous was the car park of a popular bank. On getting there, Chinedu waited for his cousin to arrive. After five minutes, Peter arrived walking briskly and a bit out of breadth. He was holding a sports bag. “I need to quickly use the toilet next door, can you hold this bag for me” declared Peter to Chinedu after they exchanged pleasantries. So Chinedu took the bag and waited. Within 3mins a mob rushed in and confronted Chinedu shouting that he is thief who stole electronics from a shop in the market behind. All shouts of “I am innocent” was ignored. They took the sport bag from him, opened it and found the stolen electronics in it. They then commenced beating Chinedu, so much that it took the police to rescue him from being killed. The mob were convinced he was the thief simply because he had the bag with him. Had Chinedu been killed, the mob would have been satisfied they have delivered justice to a thief. But from the background I gave, you can see that Chinedu was an innocent boy, who was framed.

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This is why it is foolish to jump to conclusions without the facts. This is the reason why we have courts to determine the pertinent facts and give judgement based on evidence. You can never be sure of guilt until you get all the facts in every situation. Mob justice does not bother with facts or even the objective truth. They just use their rage to delver justice as they see fit. This is what happened in Kano. I am sure most of the mob that attacked this lady in Kano did not see or hear her commit the alleged infraction directly. They simply went by the words of someone with his own evil agenda. And this happens all over Nigeria daily as well. The fact that Kano was religiously motivated does not make it any worse than what the rest of the nation indulge in.

So we need to develop a sense of due process in Nigeria from the north to the south and stop being hypocritical by condemning something we also engage in. We need to be interested in facts and evidence rather than the rush to judgement. We should stop showing outrage with what happens in the North, only to do the same things ourselves albeit with a different motivation. Human life should matter and we all need to begin to give others the benefit of the doubt we expect to be given. A sad indictment of our education system is the many graduates that lack critical thinking capability.They do not know how to ask the right questions or critically challenge a thesis proposed to them. Blinded by all manner of sentiments (from religious to ethnic to moral), they believe easily the lies of others and allow themselves to be used as tools for criminal activities through mob action. We must all begin the change by making sure we do not allow ourselves to be used in future. Everyone must be responsible for their own actions. God help us in Nigeria.

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