I was having a patriotic discussion with a “One Nigerian project” specialist and in the cause of our dialogue, it came to really dawn on me that a lot of us are suffering from what my late lecturer, an ebullient and eloquent intellectual, Professor Omafume Onoge, rightly called intellectual endogamy. Anytime I have a one-to-one discussion with this guy about Nigeria, our discussion is always with passion and love for that country. We may differ in ideological approach to tackling the numerous social problems besieging or rather befriending the country, but one thing is clear, we have both imbibed and internalised into our system, the British culture of tolerance. We respect each other’s view and perspective.
Now whilst this informal discussion was ones on, the issue of Bode Eluyera’s articles came up. I told them that I have read all Bode’s series and that some of us may disagree with the writer but that they should not claim to love Nigeria more than Bode Eluyera. “Listen folks,” I had argued, “this guy loves Nigeria more than most of us”. First and foremost, he is not an hypocrite. In the present Nigerian setting, most truths are bitter to swallow but Bode writes it as he sees it. The fact is that seeing the way the country has been piloted and pilloried since 1960, it is not a thing of surprise to see people write with well placed anger and venom. It is not!
You cannot live in some foreign countries that are even less naturally endowed than Nigeria; feel the positive impact and benefits of genuine and sincere meaning of democracy, governance and government, only to go home on just a short visit and all that you see are: poverty in the midst of enormous wealth, insecurity of lives and property, poor infrastructures, lack of a comprehensible social service system, absence of quality health and education policies, ritual killing, rot and decadence. In fact total backwardness! There is just no system that is positively evolving in Nigeria. Everyone does what he or she likes. Corruption is deified and routinized. The law and justice system chooses and picks to preserve and protect well entrenched interest groups.
The elites who are supposed to be the bacon of light and hope are often caught up in their own contradictions. What has happened in Jos has deadened my spirit, it has unveiled the naked need for us to go back to our regional system of government but this time, with the now clearly identified six regional arrangements instead of the former three, namely; South West or Oodua region, South-South or Opobo region, Middle belt region, North East or Adamawa region, the North West or the Dan Fodio region and, the South East or Biafra or MASSOB region.
Let the Federation be, but let us, in the interest of those who have died and those who are yet to die from these well calculated religious, ethnic, and regional carnage, have these regional arrangements. The British amalgamated us in 1914 but the same British knew that culturally, this contraption and “geographical expression” called Nigeria consisted of diverse ethnic nationalities that were linked by among others, major languages and dialects. Our colonial masters were therefore wise enough to have created three regions and had advised then that each region should grow at its own pace.
General Yakubu Gowon in cautiously denouncing “Araba” in 1966 and embracing another designer made “one Nigerian project” as defined by his sponsors, abolished the regions and created 12 states just to spite Ojukwu and the then EASTERN region for declaring the Republic of Biafra. When the war ended in 1970, Gowon in his infinite wisdom ought to have reverted back to our regional system of government since the creation of the states was necessitated by the war. One of the outcomes of that indecision is the gory petals of blood that are being shade in the country because of regional, religious and ethnic suspicion and acrimony.
Could we please go back to this regional form of arrangement. A lot of us are tired of these sickening but recurring blood letting. Today, it is Jos; tomorrow, it could be Markudi. It has got to stop for God’s sake. We could practice the regional system for at least 20 years and subsequently keep reviewing the arrangements as we go along until we arrive at a reasonably suitable saner system. It is an understatement to say that these killings will stop. It will not. In the Nigerian context, it is a given. Our leadership has made it so.
I have read a lot of biased, unbalanced and ahistorical write ups about the Jos crisis to the point where I now literally manifest some symptoms of Asperger syndrome. In most of those self-opinionated angst written with poison pens, I’d introspectively asked whether I am actually reading these established writers correctly. I was flabbergasted by the deliberate attempts by some writers not to chronicle history of patterns of such blood letting. It beggars belief that on very sensitive issues like the negative manipulation of religion and well planned and properly coordinated ethnic cleansing, that educated and well “instructed” mental adults will deliberately and consciously spread falsehood using National newspapers and the internet as their anchor bases. To write on a social malfeasance without recourse to its history, which is well known and documented, is to indulge in journalistic and academic fraud. It is intellectual deception. Now, because these write ups are based on false premises, the solutions proffered are bound not only to be wrong but unworkable.
Most a writer and public commentator need to really grow up. Some of these writers have established pedigree in the pen industry. You cannot be preaching one Nigeria but your articles- and I guess covert if not overt conducts – depict the opposite. If that is not the meaning of hypocrisy, I wonder what is! Nigerian leaders keep living this false life. The effect is that the follower ship too have decided to follow along that chosen path to ruin. Thus what we have is a people suffering from various forms of identity crises who lack honour and integrity.
What then is intellectual endogamy? For a sharper definition, I will like to define it with a graphic example. If you are born for instance in Bida or Asaba or Iseyin and you went to nursery and primary school in Bida or Asaba or Iseyin; went to secondary school in Bida or Asaba or Iseyin; went to a university in Bida or Asaba or Iseyin; did NYSC in Bida or Asaba or Iseyin and then started work in Bida or Asaba or Iseyin, then socially and sociological, you are suffering from intellectual endogamy. If you extend this example to other well placed Nigerians, you would see the ugly negative personality image that had emerged in our country. You have a people who believed in one Nigeria, preach it in both electronic and print media but in private would never ever allow their daughter or son to marry outside their ethnic domain.
Intellectual endogamy is destroying Nigeria. Someone who suffers from it has a narrow, distorted view of social problems and issues. The person is not broad-minded. He is myopic, ethnocentric and, covertly and overtly hates others who either do not belong to his clan or share in his thought. He pretends to love people from other cultures but is in fact tolerating them. That one is tolerated does not mean one is accepted. Southerners who live in the North and vice versa should know that there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. Given the slightest opportunity, the person who tolerates you can do you harm.
The way some writers and “mental adults” presented the Jos crisis and are still presenting it, leaves much to be desired. I read them as many as they came. I could not but just laughed, not because la
ughter caught me; it was more or less a philosophical laughter. Nemesis comes in different guises. The law of Karma has come home to roost. Welcome on board fellow ‘other regional’ Nigerians to the ‘daily’ awkward meals of butchery and bestiality, ethnic massacre or cleansing, religious and regional slaughter.
I was born in Maiduguri; was just a primary two pupil when the massacre of the Igbos started and how on earth my parents and us escaped that onslaught to my then sleepy village in the present amorphous Delta state is still a mystery to me. And since that opportunity-grabbing strife was not judiciously addressed then, it is mush rooming in different sections of the country but assuming different guises and dangerous dimension. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Unaddressed injustice often incubates and then springs up in terribly disguised forms. 45 years or 450 years in the eyes of man is just like a day in the eyes of God. Years, to God and to God’s people, have their own spiritual interpretation and significance.
Every dog has his day. If you escape your responsibility, you will not escape the consequences of that responsibility. To deliberately escape your responsibility is an act of irresponsibility. The consequence, will always come one day, just one day! Whether you are a Christian, a Moslem, an agnostic, a free thinker or an a atheist, does not really matter: you must receive your comeuppance. It is a natural law. Those who escaped it, are those who sincerely confess it, show genuine remorse and pledged never to participate in such primitive and animalistic behaviour pattern. A burden, which is spiritual, is lifted off their shoulder and that of their unborn descendants. Those who don’t, carry that burden with them to their grave. They may pretend to be happy in their daily life but inside them, they are dying of un-confessed social crimes and guilt.
That the sins of a generation of forefathers shall be visited onto the borne and the unborn generations, is neither a wise saying nor an inscriptive elegy on a tomb. No, it is curse. It may not even be a provable scientific truth but, it is a spiritual fact. What ever we sow in Nigeria is what we will reap. You cannot sow genuine peace, equality, freedom, justice, and reap whirl wind. No! You will reap development based on peaceful coexistence, tolerance, respect and mature understanding. But where a STATE keeps sowing and manipulating religion, region, ethnicity and other primordial deities, that STATE will continue to reap whirlwind.
A generational curse keeps recurring because the generation that witnessed the wrongs perpetuated by their forefathers and fathers did not condemn those wrongs but instead, acknowledged them and continued in their forefathers and fathers foot steps. Since they did not condemn those acts, they in turn indoctrinate their children to continue in that stead, never to confess, never to seek for forgiveness and be forgiven. Consequently, the killing range and field is daily being made manifold. The act of revenge has become food in the menu list of primitive thinkers. Nigeria, as an amalgamated amalgam, has never ever addressed any social injustice that borders on ethnic cleansing and this is why the injustice keeps multiplying.
From the depth of my heart and with sincere tears dropping and flowing down my eyes and into my mouth with its salty taste, I condemn all previous ethnic massacres. I condemn the killing of Fulani women and their children by the Beroms in Kuru Karama just as I condemn the revenge killing by the Fulani people on the Beroms in the village of Dogo Nahauwa. The unfortunate thing is that the victims are mostly and always, poor women, children, and the elderly.
It is this category of victims that the British and most advanced humane democracies, often referred to as “the vulnerable”: people who are too weak to defend themselves. These advanced governments give such people extra protection through the constant reassuring presence of security operatives. In the UK, these operatives are called Community Wardens and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). In Nigeria, it is the reverse. This vulnerable people are killed during crises or are killed and their vital organs removed and used for ritual purposes. With tears still flowing from my eyes and now dropping onto the floor, I called on Jonathan to sack and retire the following people with immediate effect: the Minister for Police Affairs, Ibrahim Lame; the Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo; and the GOC of the 3rd Mechanised Division of Nigerian Army, Jos, Major-Gen Saleh Maina. Finally, to declare a state of emergency in plateau state, Jang removed and General Gowon pleaded with to take over that state until the next election. This is a short term measure. The long term one is for the National Assembly to return us to six regional arrangement with every region having its own Police Force.
My Jos, my rocky topographical Jos, a city that looks like an angelic beautiful bride among Nigerian cities. I hope to come back to thee one day, that is if Nigeria will be. I am not coming to thee to be a settler or an indigene. No! I am only a philosophical Igbo man passing through or temporarily living in your terrain on a chosen defined life journey. You are a part of that journey. JOS, I want you to know that I have my home, I know my root, I know where I come from and to that home and root, I will definitely return. I rest my case!