Those Hausa People! Those Igbo People Those Yoruba People!

by Paul I. Adujie

They are the worst people in Nigeria. They are responsible for all of Nigeria’s sundry economic, political and social ills and plethora of malaise! 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.

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Ms Oyibo October 16, 2009 - 1:56 pm

Thank u so much for this article. As a non Nigerian with Nigerian friends it was so refreshing to read an article that clarified a few things for me. I had recently found myself in the position of beginning to have preconceived perceptions of Nigerians from a certain tribe based on repeated observations made to me by Nigerians of another tribe. I had tried to remain unbiased but also had began to come to the conclusion that if so many people said it maybe there was some truth in it. Reading your article has given me the freedom to feel that I can again make intelligent choices on friends based on my original inclination of taking people as you find them – thank you.

Chima June 13, 2009 - 7:40 pm

Excellent article!


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