To a Nation of Stereotypes…

There are certain times in our lives as a people [note that I said people not nation], when we should feel embarrassed at ourselves. And indeed, there is no other time than now for that embarrassment to sink deep into the labyrinths of our psyche, especially at the onset of the sanusification of the banking industry. When the good breeze suddenly hit the CEOs of the nation’s prominent banking halls, it produced all manner of conspiracy theories that began to churn some of our guts. The most useless of them all was that the sanusification of our banks was motivated by an ethnic agenda, spearheaded from the North to check the dominance of these CEOs who were from the east, west and south. How sad, how simple and how unfortunate. Yes, it is sad, it is simple and it is unfortunate. At this auspicious moment of our lives when we should heave a sigh of relief that a Hercules has taken the gauntlet to do our dirty laundry for us publicly, we have no business orchestrating conspiratorial theories of ethnicity.

See, we must not heap all of the paranoia flying around only on the paranoid. These sentiments run deep in our body politic, represented by a virus-infected micro-chip buried somewhere in the central processing unit of our people. Where did that configuration that certain tribes like the Hausas, the Igbo and Yoruba respectively ‘control’ political power, commercial ingenuity and academic finesse come from? Because, if only these three tribes, [out of a nation of more than 250 tribes], were actually to ‘control’ these key areas of our lives, then the rest of us are certainly nothing but minnows akin to the biblical hewers of wood and drawers of water.

But that should not be, should it? Nobody has a prerogative of intellect, commercial ingenuity or political power in a truly federal system. The whole thing is supposed to be Okonkwoic, based on solid personal achievements. We have seen a certain guy from the North, Aliko Dangote wrestle the so-called dogged business acumen of the Igbo from the Igbo in terms of the doggedness he introduced in business. We have also seen a Philip Emeagwali, emerge as the originator of the internet, perhaps to debunk the notion that the Yoruba are the only academic people around. For the sake of the argument, let us also mention the kampe exponent, OBJ, one who has had the good fortune to rule this nation twice. It will be needless to be reminded of the sublime example in the United States, US, where a seeming nonentity like Barack Obama is now president.

It is at the base of these stereotypes that the tribal and ethnic conspiracy theory certainly sprang from. Look at the ethnic profiles of the CEOs that have been sacked – Ibru is from the South-South, Akingbola is from the South-West, Nwosu and Adigwe are from the South-East and the man who sacked them is from the North. And so there is a problem, not so? Not so fast my compatriots, let’s reason this together, you and I – what we have not considered, or should we say, what we have chosen not to consider is that even a Soludo, with all of the toughness ascribable to him from the soludification he carried out was not ready to wield the big stick, even when he knew that these CEOs were being irresponsible with our funds.. He too [it can be argued] was suffering from the disease of ethnicity in the discharge of his responsibilities as CBN boss – all the sanusied CEOs are Soludo’s playmates, and so, how do you expect him to sack them? Otherwise, how come Soludo did not sack them even when he knew that these CEOs were becoming irresponsible with public funds? Are we then going to rely on the gist that made the rounds that these CEOs collected huge sums to throw a birthday bash for Soludo, with the caveat that he turned a blind eye to the many cases of misdemeanor allegedly perpetrated by the big ogas? Are we to rely on another gist that the sacked CEOs collected as much as five billion naira to stop the Senate screening and eventual confirmation of Lamido Sanusi? If there is any iota of truth in these speculations, why would these people want to stop Sanusi’s confirmation if they didn’t have any skeletons in their vaults?

For us Nigerians as a people, the time has come for us to realize that anytime we fan the embers of ethnicity and tribalism we easily wind the clock of our progress back, back to the days before we were colonized by the Brits. For this is not the only time we have allowed specious reasoning like this to becloud our sense of circumspection. We do it all the time. I remember as a boy, that there was a certain military dictator known as Mohammadu Buhari. He arrested and shot dead some drug pushers – Bartholomew Owoh and Lawal Ojulope. You know what? The hue and cry then was not that shooting them dead was a barbaric act, but that the drug pushers were very handsome boys. Oh shiver my timbers – what has being handsome got to do with the fact that these boys were caught-red-handed in the act of cocaine smuggling? And today, what has ethnicity got to do with the fact that the sacked ogas and marams were sacked because they were not any different from the American who organized the heist that crashed the Wall Street, and was a catalyst for the global financial crisis? Does it matter who sacked them? Were they not replaced by people from the same ethnic background as the sacked ogas and marams? Nigerians, we must grow up o!

Written by
MajiriOghene Bob Etemiku
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