The Minority As Underdog

You may agree or disagree, like it or not, the truth is that the foundation of all of Nigeria’s problems is injustice. This is further compounded when those who have taken advantage of others will not enjoy their spoil quietly but will, as they say, ‘piss in the face’ of their victims.

The signs are beginning to manifest barely two months into President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and that is why attention is being drawn to it in this piece. Nothing is new, it is the same old story all over again.

For those who have followed Nigeria’s political developments, there is a trend; any ethnic group that has his son at the helm of affairs gets the swagger and with the swagger comes arrogance, which is followed by careless/reckless statements, which ultimately generate resentiments from other ethnic groups until a change takes place.

When the easterner is in power, it is an anointing from the land of the rising sun, for the norrtherner, they are born to rule. In the case of the westerner, their intelligence and economic wizardry is unrivalled and the south -south claims its God given natural resources entitles him to be in control – no consideration for others.

The same behavioural pattern has trickled down to all of the regions and states. They cry marginalisation at the Federal level but in the state where they are in the majority, they do not give consideration to the minorities. The examples traverse all of the states but let us take a few representative samples here:

In Akwa Ibom state we have the Efik and Annang battle, Benue has the battle between the Tivs and Idomas, in Kogi we have the Igalas and others, Delta- Urhobos and others, Ogun – Egbas and Ijebus, Kaduna –the Hausa/Fulanis versus southern Zarians and so many others, no state is left out.

Interestingly, like they do at the federal level, even as they discriminate and perpetuate these injustices, they find good logical reasoning to justify their actions, reminiscent of the colonialists’ justification of apartheid policies with the poor intelligence mentality of the black man.

I have often wondered if the outcome of the 2015 presidential election wouldn’t have been different if President Jonathan had come from any of the big ethnic groups.

I wonder because I am beginning to see headlines like “The minority can have their say” and comments such as ‘that one is baba they cannot try him’ and I wonder because, the people making these comments are not just ordinary citizens or illiterates you see on the streets, they are well read and enlightened individuals.

They will want all the sanctions and the probes to go to Jonathan and his men but will not want similar treatments for their ‘town’s man’ as we say in Nigeria.

Why are people shying from calling for the heads of other past leaders who have contributed to the rot that has infested the Nigerian government? Is it because Jonathan is from the minority area? Because in Nigeria it is only the minority’s head that is fit for the fire, the minority’s head is pot.

As Jonathan sits down and reflects, wherever he is hibernating now, he will also discover that he has not treated other fellow minorities with fairness, he allowed  the same sentiments to affect crucial decisions affecting other Niger Delta ethnic groups and that cost him a lot of goodwill. That is why we should ask ourselves the question: When will the whole rigmarole end?

Do we really want an equitable and egalitarian society in Nigeria where all interests will be factored in? Unless we decide on the correct answer to these questions, we will be wasting our time. Another appointment has been made at NIMASA, another northerner.

Let us not be deceived, those in authority must realise that they will be laying land mines for their off springs and future generations of Nigerians if these issues are not laid to rest, the advanced democracies have settled theirs years ago.

That is why those who have benefitted through the chants of change must not be selfish with it. They should see it as an opportunity to correct the real distortions in the system. The challenge of injustice is bigger than that of corruption. We are unable to tackle corruption here because we have all taken sides with our ethnic kiths and kins.

For us to clear this mountain therefore and leave a good legacy for generations yet unborn, we must bury our sentimental attachments to ethnicity and religion in our governance process that is the only way this change can work.

Also, to cleanse the system, we must start from the foundation, it must not be selective. For example; how did corruption in the NNPC start? Who are the personnel responsible? Are these people still alive and around? If yes, call them to question.

If you ask me, who to probe and what period to be covered by the probe investigation should not be the prerogative or responsibility of the presidency but institutions responsible for bringing people to justice – EFFC, ICPC, Police,DSS and others.

So, when a presidential spokesman comes out to say that we are probing only the Jonathan administration, he is rubbishing the whole anti corruption process.

It shows that they are not yet ready to cleanse the system, the cleansing will ab initio be faulty because it will be based strictly on selective justice and will therefore end up like Obasanjo’s EFCC.

You cannot use different standards to measure individuals who committed the same offence. We must begin to put away the mob mentality and allow institutions to work the way they should in Nigeria.

Mr. Sunny Ikhioya, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.

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