Aisha Al-Hassan from Taraba state is about to make history as the first "elected" female governor in Nigeria and the second female governor in Nigeria, under All Progressives Congress(APC).
The first, wasn't elected. Big congrats to her!
“I was not booked to appear at AY’s show. My name was not publicised as part of the people to be at the show. It is not about comedians being united; AY did his show and never mentioned that Basketmouth would perform, so why would people expect me to be there? It doesn’t make sense.”
It was just a coincidence that I was at the venue of the show while it was ongoing. I could not even be a guest at AY’s show because I had another gig on that day I was rushing off to.
“The way we think in this country is very funny. You go to the market to buy a Mercedes and hope to get a Rolls Royce engine, it is not possible. They sold a product and said that some people would perform, so why should people expect that I would be there? There is no beef between AY and I. I am an easy going person and I’m very cordial with everybody,” explained Basketmouth.
A few days ago, the Oba of Lagos threatened Igbo leaders. If they did not vote for his governorship candidate in Lagos, he said, they would be thrown into the lagoon. His entire speech was a flagrant performance of disregard. His words said, in effect: I think so little of you that I don’t have to cajole you but will just threaten you and, by the way, your safety in Lagos is not assured, it is negotiable.
There have been condemnations of the Oba’s words. Sadly, many of the condemnations from non-Igbo people have come with the ugly impatience of expressions like ‘move on,’ and ‘don’t be over-emotional’ and ‘calm down.’ These take away the power, even the sincerity, of the condemnations. It is highhanded and offensive to tell an aggrieved person how to feel, or how quickly to forgive, just as an apology becomes a non-apology when it comes with ‘now get over it.’
Other condemnations of the Oba’s words have been couched in dismissive or diminishing language such as ‘The Oba can’t really do anything, he isn’t actually going to kill anyone. He was joking. He was just being a loudmouth.’
Or – the basest yet – ‘we are all prejudiced.’ It is dishonest to respond to a specific act of prejudice by ignoring that act and instead stressing the generic and the general. It is similar to responding to a specific crime by saying ‘we are all capable of crime.’ Indeed we are. But responses such as these are diversionary tactics. They dismiss the specific act, diminish its importance, and ultimately aim at silencing the legitimate fears of people.
We are indeed all prejudiced, but that is not an appropriate response to an issue this serious. The Oba is not an ordinary citizen. He is a traditional ruler in a part of a country where traditional rulers command considerable influence – the reluctance on the part of many to directly chastise the Oba speaks to his power. The Oba’s words matter. He is not a singular voice; he represents traditional authority. The Oba’s words matter because they are enough to incite violence in a political setting already fraught with uncertainty. The Oba’s words matter even more in the event that Ambode loses the governorship election, because it would then be easy to scapegoat Igbo people and hold them punishable.
Nigerians who consider themselves enlightened might dismiss the Oba’s words as illogical. But the scapegoating of groups – which has a long history all over the world – has never been about logic. The Oba’s words matter because they bring worrying echoes of the early 1960s in Nigeria, when Igbo people were scapegoated for political reasons. Chinua Achebe, when he finally accepted that Lagos, the city he called home, was unsafe for him because he was Igbo, saw crowds at the motor park taunting Igbo people as they boarded buses: ‘Go, Igbo, go so that garri will be cheaper in Lagos!’
Of course Igbo people were not responsible for the cost of garri. But they were perceived as people who were responsible for a coup and who were ‘taking over’and who, consequently, could be held responsible for everything bad.
Any group of people would understandably be troubled by a threat such as the Oba’s, but the Igbo, because of their history in Nigeria, have been particularly troubled. And it is a recent history. There are people alive today who were publicly attacked in cosmopolitan Lagos in the 1960s because they were Igbo. Even people who were merely light-skinned were at risk of violence in Lagos markets, because to be light-skinned was to be mistaken for Igbo.
Almost every Nigerian ethnic group has a grouse of some sort with the Nigerian state. The Nigerian state has, by turns, been violent, unfair, neglectful, of different parts of the country. Almost every ethnic group has derogatory stereotypes attached to it by other ethnic groups.
But it is disingenuous to suggest that the experience of every ethnic group has been the same. Anti-Igbo violence began under the British colonial government, with complex roots and manifestations. But the end result is a certain psychic difference in the relationship of Igbo people to the Nigerian state. To be Igbo in Nigeria is constantly to be suspect; your national patriotism is never taken as the norm, you are continually expected to prove it.
All groups are conditioned by their specific histories. Perhaps another ethnic group would have reacted with less concern to the Oba’s threat, because that ethnic group would not be conditioned by a history of being targets of violence, as the Igbo have been.
Many responses to the Oba’s threat have mentioned the ‘welcoming’ nature of Lagos, and have made comparisons between Lagos and southeastern towns like Onitsha. It is valid to debate the ethnic diversity of different parts of Nigeria, to compare, for example, Ibadan and Enugu, Ado-Ekiti and Aba, and to debate who moves where, and who feels comfortable living where and why that is. But it is odd to pretend that Lagos is like any other city in Nigeria. It is not. The political history of Lagos and its development as the first national capital set it apart. Lagos is Nigeria’s metropolis. There are ethnic Igbo people whose entire lives have been spent in Lagos, who have little or no ties to the southeast, who speak Yoruba better than Igbo. Should they, too, be reminded to be ‘grateful’ each time an election draws near?
No law-abiding Nigerian should be expected to show gratitude for living peacefully in any part of Nigeria. Landlords in Lagos should not, as still happens too often, be able to refuse to rent their property to Igbo people.
The Oba’s words were disturbing, but its context is even more disturbing:
The anti-Igbo rhetoric that has been part of the political discourse since the presidential election results. Accusatory and derogatory language – using words like ‘brainwashed,’ ‘tribalistic voting’ – has been used to describe President Jonathan’s overwhelming win in the southeast. All democracies have regions that vote in large numbers for one side, and even though parts of Northern Nigeria showed voting patterns similar to the Southeast, the opprobrium has been reserved for the Southeast.
But the rhetoric is about more than mere voting. It is really about citizenship. To be so entitled as to question the legitimacy of a people’s choice in a democratic election is not only a sign of disrespect but is also a questioning of the full citizenship of those people.
What does it mean to be a Nigerian citizen?
When Igbo people are urged to be ‘grateful’ for being in Lagos, do they somehow have less of a right as citizens to live where they live? Every Nigerian should be able to live in any part of Nigeria. The only expectation for a Nigerian citizen living in any part of Nigeria is to be law-abiding. Not to be ‘grateful.’ Not to be expected to pay back some sort of unspoken favour by toeing a particular political line. Nigerian citizens can vote for whomever they choose, and should never be expected to justify or apologize for their choice.
Only by feeling a collective sense of ownership of Nigeria can we start to forge a nation. A nation is an idea. Nigeria is still in progress. To make this a nation, we must collectively agree on what citizenship means: all Nigerians must matter equally.
The Igbos are the wandering Jews of West Africa… gifted, aggressive, Westernised; at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by the mass of their neighbors in the federation – Henry Kessinger (famous American diplomat)
Back in the days, men made fortune out of war, war was business. But today, the Igbos are making fortune out of business, because business is the new war.
Before we talk about the plight of the Igbos in Nigeria, let us start by defining a word that has been frequently used by the Igbos to define their situation in the country, marginalisation!
According to a good number of dictionaries, to "marginalise" means "to treat someone or something as if they are unimportant."
It also means "to take or keep somebody away from the centre of action." Another dictionary defined it as "relegating someone or a group of people to a lower or outer edge of a community or society."
For so long, the Igbos have bitterly cried out against apparent marginalisation by the Federal Goverment of Nigeria. There is almost a zero federal presence in the east, despite the fact that the eastern region is the most technologically advanced of all the regions.
This suggests unequivocally that the Igbo-speaking Nigerians have been unjustly treated. There is a well calculated ploy by the powers that be from other ethnic nationalities to ensure that the Igbo region stays perennially underdeveloped.
What the Igbos are going through can be traced to none other than Yakubu Gowon. Gowon should explain why a people who were by far the dominant majority ethnic group were suddenly relegated to only one out of the three states created by him in the old Eastern region.
Why alter demography just to make the Igbos a minority in a region where they were the majority? Since then, the Igbos haven't been able to get this injustice reversed and till date, they have seen more states and local governments created in other regions across the country.
Nigerian historians are unanimous that the 1963 census remains the most transparent in the country till date. The 1963 census stated that one out of every four Nigerians was an Igbo, which means that if things were done equitably in this country, the Igbos should have a 25 per cent representation in all federal institutions as well as a 25 per cent share of all states and local governments created since independence.
We must tell ourselves the truth and stop living in denial. Nigeria as it stands today is sitting on a keg of gun powder and if we must stay together as a country, we have to sit down and discuss the terms and conditions of our coexistence.
No section of the country should be treated better than others. I have heard some northerners mutter several times that power belongs to them. "Born to rule," the old Sokoto State slogan is a clear confirmation of what has been psyched into the system of every northerner.
And they keep saying "One Nigeria?" Isn't it obvious that the northerners are more Nigerians than other Nigerians? That's why they could openly threaten the nation with violence like they did in the just concluded presidential election.
It was peddled about that if Buhari had lost the election, there would have been trouble in the country and as a result, a lot of people voted against their wishes especially in the north. So many issues need to be addressed in this country.
For example, how do you explain why Arabic is on the naira when the official language of the country is English? How do you explain why an Hausa man is allowed to carry daggers freely when others get arrested for carrying a razor blade?
Please, can someone explain to me who the real Hausas are?
I have travelled to virtually all the northern states and in most of the states, the people I met claimed not to be Hausas but from other tribes. According to them, that they spoke fluent Hausa doesn't mean they are Hausas.
Nancy who's from Kaduna always makes it known to whoever cares to listen that she's not Hausa but Zango Kataf. My guitarist who's from Nasarawa State grumbles whenever I call him an Hausa man. Amina, my Fulani neighbour screams and curses whenever I call her an Hausa lady. So who then are the real Hausas?
What states are they occupying? Stop using politics to bamboozle me that Hausa is a majority. Stop using politics to lump Hausa and Fulani together because you want me to think you are highly populated.
In the just concluded presidential election, Katsina State had over two million eligible voters, I have been to Katsina several times and I can't remember ever seeing so many people there. How did they come about the figures in the presidential election?
May God save this country from desperate politicians because it doesn't make any sense politicising the population of the North when we see otherwise each time we travel there.
It is in the same light they claimed Kano was more populated than Lagos in the census conducted during Obasanjo's regime. We are tired of these lies. If we must remain an indivisible country, the true population of the Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas and every other ethnic group in this country must be made public as well as the number of Christians and Muslims. Enough of the Hausa-Fulani scam or the Zango Kataf man being counted as Hausa.
Finally, the fact that other ethnic groups see the marginalisation of the Igbos as relative or just a perception and not based on the objective realities on ground is a shame.
The Nigerian army today cannot produce a bullet but the boys in Awka are producing not only bullets but guns. An unbiased Federal Government would have taken advantage of that and create employment as well as exporting to generate money for the country.
With a little government encouragement, Aba can easily rival the industralised nations of the world in production. If Ndigbo won't be allowed to enjoy the freedom, to develop and maximise their collective and individual potential through unfettered access, use and exploitation of God-given resources – human and material, the country might soon be plunged into another years of Biafra vs Nigeria and this time around, there will be a victor and a vanquished.