(By Okoi Obono-Obla)
“When the Japanese interrelated with the Europeans in the yore they learnt from them and used their technology to manufacture guns and this helped the Japanese people to resist European imperialism stiffly. The African Traditional Rulers were content to collect beautiful clothing and gin from the Europeans Traders! Some of them liked gin, especially Gordon Gin, and even named their children ‘Gordon Gin’!“
Sometimes I wonder aloud how some of us reason and argue. I am beginning to think that Nigerians are among some of the most sentimental and emotional people in the universe. Otherwise why are we always looking or discussing issues from the sentimental and emotional prism or perspective? Why can’t we address issues from the rational and objective rather than subjective point of view? Some of the worse culprits are the so-called ‘elites’.
When I wrote on how Gershom Bassey, the Chairman of the Government owned Cross River Water Board Limited, has monopolized the affairs of the company because he is a friend of former Governor Donald Duke and Governor Liyel Imoke, some people from his neck of the woods, rather than looking at the point I was trying to make started to rain abuses on me. One Ita Okon and Coco-Bassey Esu on the face-book interactive forum, Cross River State Coalition for Change, took me on. They queried why I was attacking their “son”.
When you take on those who are responsible for our scandalous under-development and grinding poverty; the oppressor, who siphon our moneys to Dubai and Europe; those responsible for the chronic unemployment among our young population – those who are the ordinarily the victims at the fringe begin to defend the oppressors for sentimental reasons! Which then gets you wondering aloud: whether it is worth the while to fight the oppressors, since those whom you fight for do not even appreciate the risk we take – forgoing so many things (including our personal comfort) to get an egalitarian society!
You can imagine the level of perverted or warped thinking from typical Nigerian elites. The duo completely forgot that the Company does not belong to the ethnic group they belong to. The Company belongs to the entire people of Cross River State of Nigeria! Concomitant with this is the “it is our turn syndrome!”; “This is the time/turn of the South/South!” So anybody who criticizes President Jonathan is an enemy of the South; does not wish the South/South well. He must be killed; he must be pilloried! One of the ethnic War lords from Ijaw land, threatened fire and brimstones, if Jonathan is not elected as if only votes from the South/South can elect/make anybody the President of Nigeria! Even the Harvard educated, former Federal Permanent Secretary and Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, is not left out of this horrible and demented way some Nigerians reason, when he warned of dire consequences if Jonathan is not allowed to run! So if President Jonathan by happenstance resigns or become incapacitated, Nigeria cease exist? The kind of grovelling sycophancy akin to the ‘whom the cap fits’ or ‘the right key’ during the Abacha days!
I ask this again: Does the Nigerian Presidency belong to the South/South? It is really sad! We flaunt our educational qualifications and class but we do not behave like educated and classy people! We boast how many times we had travelled to European and the United States but do not behave like enlightened and exposed people! The Nigeria Political Elite is among the worse species you find anywhere around the world! It has been like this for almost Five Centuries. We have always produced elites with no focus, vision; ‘Elites’ that are myopic, atrophic!
It was the African Elite that encouraged the now rested Slave Trade in the 15th Century. These were the Traditional Rulers of Africa that were selling their brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces, mothers, fathers and their people to vicious Arab and European Slave Merchants. The consequence for Africa was catastrophic. We have not learnt any lesson from this sad episode. We are still behaving like those African Traditional Rulers of the yore who raided communities and abducted women and children and sold them to desperate and heartless Arab and European slave traders to be taken to unknown places in the Americas.
When the Japanese interrelated with the Europeans in the yore they learnt from them and used their technology to manufacture guns and this helped the Japanese people to resist European imperialism stiffly. The African Traditional Rulers were content to collect beautiful clothing and gin from the Europeans Traders! Some of them liked gin, especially Gordon Gin, and even named their children ‘Gordon Gin’!
When one critics a Nigerian nay African the first thing that person will say to you is: ‘you are saying this because I am not your brother! If I were your brother or Village man will you say this of me?’ ‘If I am from your ethnic group will you say this to me?’ If we worship in the same place (religion) will you not say this me?’ And I’m left wondering, does this really make sense!
If you have a bad brother does he necessarily turn into a good person because he is your brother? If you have a Governor from your State or ethnic group and he is such an incompetent fellow will he necessarily transmute into a competent person because he is from the neck of your woods? How did the Presidency of say former President Obasanjo benefit the average Yoruba Peasant trying to survive the harsh economic environment? How did the Presidency of Yar’adua benefit the average Fulani Herdsmen in the bush of Ogoja tending his herds? Does this Fulani Herdsman who is not even aware of the existence of the Federal Government care a hoot about who the president is? Or where he comes from?
What has the average Ijaw man, Efik, Edo, Urhobo, Isoko, Ejagham, Anang, Oron etc benefited since Jonathan became President? If Jonathan constructs a road in the South-South is there a guarantee that such a road will only be used by those from that region! If a President who is a Christian or Muslim builds an airport or refurbishes one, will the users of that airport be only Muslims or Christians alone! Is there any guarantee that a President, Governor, Minister, holder of a Political Office either through elections or by appointment etc will serve your interest because he or she is from your village or region or ethnic group? There is a case I am handling in the High Court involving people that Former Governor Donald Duke took their lands without paying them compensation. These people are ethnic Efiks just as Duke. You can imagine that Duke compromised the interest of these people who share the same ethnicity with him but didn’t care a hoot about that interest! Recently some Youths from the community of Governor Imoke came to me to advice on the remedies available to them on account of large expense of land the Governor took from their Community and handed over to a private company without payment of compensation. So does the governor ship of Imoke serve the interest of all people from his community?
The elite only remember where they come from or their faith when they are asked to account for their deeds. When they cannot explain their conduct they quickly beat a hasty retreat to their ethnic cocoon or religious enclaves and you will hear them begin to argue or suggest that they are being victimized or witch hunted because they are from so and so region/ethnic group or religious faith! The Nigerian Elite thinks he is an outlaw or above the law and therefore, ‘how dare you ask him to be accountable!’
We used ethnicity to justify criminal conducts and acts! In the traditional society crime was hardly tolerated. If you come from a family of a murderer you are stigmatized for life. Nobody will want to marry from your family if you are considered or adjudged to be a thief. So why do we rationalize the wayward behaviour of persons/occupiers of public office on grounds that such deviants just happens to be or is your brother/relation/ethnicity/religion? This is why our institutions are being run down year in year out. Competence and integrity are not what matters in appointment but where somebody comes from! This is why there is so much injustice, decay and anomie. Even the young people one will expect to show the difference or be upset about all the ills are even worse!
In every sane society the young people are always on the vanguard for social change, but no, not in Nigeria! The young people masterminded the revolution in Syria, Egypt and Tunisia using the social media network as a veritable tool to fight corruption, injustice and moral bankruptcy but in Nigeria the young people rationalize corruption and bad governance because those responsible are their friends and from the same ethnic origin as them. I shudder ceaselessly. Is Nigeria doomed?
One thing I know though is that if we keep thinking and acting in the way we averagely do, then we will keep getting the same result! For a people get the kind of leaders they deserve! I do not see how in a democratic setting, an individual (Gershom Bassey) will occupy a position as Chairman of Cross River Water Board Limited for more than 14 years – from 1999 to date and everybody is complacent not to rock the boat!
Na craze abi na wetin?
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