Rising antisocial behaviors in Nigeria? It is desperation, stupid! Economic desperation!
I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but, I will be quick to tell you that there is nothing peculiarly pathological about the antisocial behaviors which are now common in Igboland as all of Nigerian nooks and crannies. Antisocial behaviors driven by poverty and economic desperation
Were it not the fact that Dr. Oz Osuji is of the Igbo ethnic stock in Nigeria, I would have rapidly labeled him as a bigot and man of biased and prejudiced thinking. We he not such a prolific writer and public intellectual, I would have called him a self loathing Igboman. Dr. Osuji seems to think that as an Igboman that he has poetic license to write critically of Igboland and even savage Ndiigbo in the process and doing so have subjected him to the appearance of being traitorous and treacherous regarding Ndiigbo at first glance
It quite difficult to be measured after reading Dr. Osuji’s most scandalous attack piece against Ndiigbo with the title above which implies or suggests something peculiar and unique about the Igbo character which makes us predisposed to negative individualism with genetic predisposition to antisocial behaviors, when in fact the average Igbo person is his brothers’ and sisters’ keeper
Dr. Osuji is probably unaware of the self-help culture of Igboland, where families, villages, age-grades and churches and sundry community unions and associations join together to ensure the education of Igbo youth up to highest education levels. Dr. Osuji fixation on individualism in Igboland, completely neglected to mention the collectivism and communal efforts in Igboland which have perennially ensured the success of projects in Igboland, large and small.
I think that in Dr. Osuji’s article we find the invaluable caveat to medical doctors which warns thus, “first, do no harm” kidnapping and other antisocial behaviors are on the rise in Igboland as in other parts of Nigeria. In discussing or writing about these social scourges, we have to be mindful not to do harm to our people with sweeping generalizations and painting Igboland with broad brushes of negative labels, there are already enough of these on our people
Additionally, Dr. Osuji also gives credence to the advice to surgeons and lawyers. Surgeons may not perform surgeries on family members or selves because of the familial emotions invested which may impact outcomes negatively, similarly, it is often said, that a lawyer engaged in representing self, has a fool for a client, again, because of the undetached emotions as in the surgeon trying to save a family member, say, mother or child, father etc
Dr. Osuji allowed his personal disappointment as a direct and indirect victim of a kidnapping crime to moderate and emotionally impact his writing or what ought to be an objective if dispassionate commentary on a national affliction, desperation driven by abject poverty! Why, we must ask, do some of our women, known to be usually morally and culturally upright and outstanding, now resort to prostitution in abroad, sometimes with winks and nods of approvals from husbands and other family members? Why, must ask, there is so much desperation in our homeland in the midst of abundance?
Dr. Osuji permitted his immediate and personal emotion to cloud what ought to be a public discourse of the state of human condition now permeating and pervasive in our homeland, Nigeria. He seem to have put pen to paper, as soon as he received the disturbing and disappointing news of the kidnappings and ransom demand, hence his very emotive rendition as conveyed in his scatological piece attacking, in which, he an Igbo person himself, has unwittingly put Ndiigbo under unfair scrutiny and microscopic examination as having some character trait, quite unlike other Nigerians or for that matter, as if Igbos are unlike other humans, and Igbos isolated from the rest of the world in individualism as a human foible
Upon reading a recent story in The Punch Newspaper in which one Dayo Modupe recounted an encounter with Nigerian Customs Service, I commented that it was actually a pleasant surprise that Nigerians are not more violent and going postal, despite the regularity in which some Nigerians seem to want to needlessly subject fellow Nigerians to miseries. The abject human conditions in Nigeria are liable to push sane persons to the outer limits of sanity. Good people change and may engage in anti social behavior due to poverty and the desperation which have become all too common. Symptoms of the extent of desperation are common all over Nigeria, whether in so-called ethno religious violence in Jos, Maiduguri and Bauchi or the MEND demand for resource control or the restive Boko Haram or the kidnappings in Igboland, these are all testaments to our abject condition, poverty of ideas, poverty of creative political solutions and bankruptcy of leadership.
Economic depression anywhere in the world is often followed by increased spate of higher incidents of crime or crime waves, anti social behavior etc. And it is almost irrelevant whether it is America, Jamaica, Haiti or Nigeria. Anyone who pays adequate, sufficient and enough attention to cyclical economic spirals would know should know. There is, in the majority of cases, a direct correlation between high crime rates or upsurge in antisocial behavior with economic downturns or downward spirals worldwide, this is not peculiar to Igboland, Nigeria or Africa!
No Igbo person and No Nigerian should internalize any anti social behavior or the negative effects of economic depression, abject poverty, capitalist individualism as peculiar to us. Self-preservation is a human trait, which in the extreme, can be perverse and twisted. Warped and perverse human reactions to circumstances are not peculiar to Igbos or Nigerians.
Nigerians have been told to believe that Nigerians invented fraudulence, until it was discovered that Bernie Madoff is not a Nigerian, neither is Jeff Skilling or Ken Lay of Enron. Igbos and Nigerians in general should cease and desist from internalizing, pretending to own, hold patent, trademarks and copyrights to perversities! Human conditions, development and circumstances are what motivates human responses to such, positive or negative responses, as such.
Dr. Osuji, with all due respect, you should stop poo-pooing Igboland… Dr. Osuji seems to see something for which Igbos should apologize, what he termed Igbo nationalism and Igbo nationalists! What exactly is wrong with being an Igbo nationalist? Should the Igbo race not take interest in self-preservation? Is it not even more particularly so, given the checkered history to which Igbos have been subjected in Nigeria from pogroms to civil war to marginalization and relegation? Dr. unnecessarily badgered Igbos in his feeble and woefully unsuccessful attempt to discuss kidnappings in Nigeria. We should discuss the cause and effect of the current human condition in Nigeria. All Nigerians ought to do a better business of putting the collective feet of our current crop of political leadership feet to the fire. And how about making Nigeria’s current parlous economic conditions and the upsurge of incidents of high crimes, including kidnappings, ethno-religious violence and resources mismanagement on the front burner as election issues? Why blame the abject human conditions on Ndiigbo, in fact, Dr. Osuji, why dump on Ndiibo?
Could Dr. Osuji show me or point to me, what other ethnic group, language group or region of Nigeria which has through self-help built an airport as was done in Owerri? Could Dr. Osuji show me other groups in Nigeria which more than exemplifies resilience? I will show Dr. Osuji Ndiigbo as survivors and triumphal and persistent strivers, despite the civil and despite efforts at arresting developments in Igboland, and despite utter neglect by our federal government, Igboland has not fared badly, in self-resuscitation in the aftermath of the civil war… Igboland is f
illed with indefatigable Nigerian citizens bar none!
Dr. Osuji ignores the plights and predicaments to which Igbos and Igbland have been subjected and he should know better! Too many Nigerians across the spectrum are willingly and blissfully, including Dr. Osuji, are ignorant or suffer voluntary self-imposed amnesia regarding Igbos and Igboland. Th writer and novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says it best, when she stated that Nigerians need to discuss our national history, with particular reference to the Nigerian Civil War and lasting consequences upon all of us, Igbos and non-Igbos … our people need healing and true reconciliations …
I write here, to inform Dr. Osui that I am tired of folks using Ndiigbo as scapegoat and Nigeria’s whipping boy! I am so outraged by Dr. Osuji’s article, hence the need to write this response or rejoinder in a hurry, such hurry! Dr. Osuji, I feel a sense of national duty to disagree with him as stridently and as vehemently, as I am personally affronted by his generalizations which does not take into account the desperation driven behaviors he so succinctly describes. A Nigerian at Nigeriavillagequare, only known as Abraxas assessments which I agree with, as he pointed out that there is nothing unique in the antisocial behaviors in Igboland different from other parts of Nigeria, and in fact, the entire world given the circumstances and human condition, and human nature.
Igbos and Igboland have had it rough. There is glaring disparities and discrimination in citing of projects. And for instance, Onitsha and Aba have been big commercial hubs since I was a child, and any reasonable government should know these salient facts; If I were president of Nigeria Aba and Onitsha would have had LARGEST international airports outside of Lagos and Kano, only and solely determined by the volume of business and traffic and profit and not some other ancillaries and extraneous expediencies! But Dr. Osuji and other Nigerians know that this has not happened in Nigeria!
Dr. Osuji and others who may erroneous deceive themselves into believing that antisocial behaviors are peculiar to Igbos and Igboland, may be told that, only recently, there was news of a man, a Nigerian man, whose mother lived abroad, (in Britain)? The man arranged for his MOTHER to be robbed, she was robbed and murdered while visiting Nigeria… the man and his mother are not from Nnewi or Olololo! I condemned the guy and his friends for the heinous murder of anyone for money, particularly, his own mother, BUT, we should all inquire into what drives such desperation; Neither the man or his mother was of the Igbo race/stock… but I do understand, at least in a psychiatric sense, what drove the desperation to rob his own mother!
We should endeavor mightily, to look for CAUSE and EFFECT in evaluating our human conditions, even as I express my disapproval of Dr. Osuji’s generalizations, I will have to assume that he intended no harm to our people, nevertheless, I worry about this idea of giving Ndiigbo another, additional negative label. I worry about generalizations; sweeping generalizations with such a broad brush
Ndiigbo have been marginalized and relegated in various ways during the past 41 years… economically, politically and structurally. Anti social behaviors in Nigeria and worldwide, are not peculiar to Igbos … It is beyond dispute that anti social behaviors increases in spate and degree during economic stresses/recessions/depressions. It is incontrovertible that the Eastern part of Nigeria has suffered unmitigated neglect from our central governments for so long.
The following is excerpted and in quotes, from WHY ARE IGBOS KIDNAPPING OTHER IGBOS FOR RANSOM MONEY? Ozodi Thomas Osuji
“This paper traces the current spate of kidnapping and other anti-social behaviors in Igbo land to what it calls warped Igbo character and pathological Igbo society; it says that Igbos have wild individualism that seeks individual achievement without caring for the larger society, leaving all to fend for themselves and the ignored youth resorting to criminal behaviors. It says that Igbo land is approaching Somalia where law and order broke down and that unless something is done and done soon that Igbo land will become Somalia, with no law and order, with chaos and pillage the order of the day and Igbo life become nasty, brutish and short” Oh my goodness!
We should not blame one segment or one demographic in the Nigeria for symptoms of decadence in Nigeria; But if we must blame Ndiigbo selectively and with particularity, how about putting the social, political and economic conditions/circumstances in Nigeria/nationwide in perspectives?
Why must we pick on Ndiigbo? There are antisocial behaviors throughout Nigeria and throughout the world. In Nigeria for instance, if we must point fingers, particularize, or generalize, How about the ever recurring violence, intractable and internecine violence in Jos, Bauuchi, Maiduguri etc? Why must we pick on Ndiigbo? How about the political violence in Edo, and South Western states of Nigeria
We should leave Igbos and Igboland alone! Why kick a guy who is down or why blame the victims of marginalization and relegation? There is nothing peculiarly Igbo in the suffering, hardships and DESPERATION in Nigeria, which motivates self-preservation and survival of the fittest instincts… if anything, we may find rationale, additional rationale in Igboland as it has been under more SEVERE stresses than the rest of Nigeria which is under economic and political stress as it is, and have been for years! We should lend our names to and we should not give credence false accusations and negative labeling of Ndiigbos or other Nigerians.
In order words, whatever is wrong with Igboland is equally wrong with other parts of Nigeria… all of us who are patriots and well wishers of Nigeria…. must fathom lasting solutions to our national challenges, malaise, and general state of national funk!
. We should be careful not to assist those who would make victims of us or help to repeat our checkered history and beleaguered state of affairs; such is not good for Ndiigbo or Nigeria or for that matter, any human collective. Generalization is for the intellectually incurious and intellectually lazy.
Igbo Kwenu! Nigeria Kwenu!