What does it cost to be valued as a Nigerian? To be considered important enough for the government to drop all it is doing and focus on your matter, raise hell if it feels like you are being misused or made to feel less than a valid entity of this shared space of ours?
And a hump.
Other than that, the rest of the country can and will run on autopilot, the devil may care.
The past couple of weeks have been traumatic to say the least for the average Nigerian; as matters continue to rise to a head, with tensions glaring everywhere and the frustrations of the poor choices the majority made on behalf of the rest of us, begin to settle in. The only problem is that unlike the poor choices most of us have had the good fortune to make early on in our lives – the skid marks from this one appears to want to sear a burning hole in the heart of the country.
No quick fixes for this one. An ethno-religious jingoist is at the reins of power of a multi-ethnic and diverse country like Nigeria. Indeed, the pot is beginning to boil over.
While this administration consistently focuses on crushing unarmed Igbo youth from the South East of the country; a region which the president hates so much that he made the (in)famous 97% versus 5% statement; as one of his first policy directions soon after getting into power; informing 100% of Nigerians that the alleged 5% from a certain region of the country who had refused to vote for him, might as well count themselves out of the country and begin to pack their bags in search of a new country.
And without much ado, this is what is unfolding now.
A people who should be cowed into just being in Nigeria as a common Nigerian; not allowed a room of breathing space – that is what South Easterners have been reduced to.
When the average South Eastern Nigerian coughs, Buhari reacts. The guns of war are rolled out and the proverbial sledge hammer is brought out to crush the Igbo ant that dares to have an opinion in a country where they are constantly marginalized, derided and segregated. Every situation in the country is blamed on them.
The inept CCT chairman goes to a shopping mall. There, he assaults a Nigerian security guard who coincidentally is from the same geo-political region as he is. He is caught on camera, beating and slapping around the guard; whose only offence was trying to do his job in a country where bigmanism is the first rule of law.
His defence? Something something “Biafran Boys”.
It doesn’t matter what the issue is. Just blame Ndi Igbo and you are fine.
Two people may fight and attempt to murder each other in a market in Kano. But by the next day, all the Igbo shops in sight would be set ablaze; while the predominantly Igbo settlements would become mini refugee camps; as people flee in there and band together to repel murderous attacks by hoodlums.
No one needs to know the exact origin of the two players in the fight. If one is not from Kano, then he is Igbo and meant to be crushed.
It was always funny watching the attempts of the Kogites while in school; struggling to associate themselves and identify as Northerners in order to avoid discrimination and targeted attacks whenever things went south. Funny because to the average Northerner, once you crossed the Abuja divide; you ARE an Igbo man and should be treated as such.
These woes, these fault lines, they did not develop in a day.
But Nigeria as a country did not need a president who would rather poke a knife right into the heart of the fault line and begin to force it further apart; rather than look at the issues and attempt to unite and placate the country and give everyone a sense of ownership and belonging.
And this was our argument when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was president; taking development to the North to the detriment of the South East. We argued that this was how a president who understood diversity should act. Reach out to those who may feel marginalized by your presidency and carry them along. Ensure that they feel the impact of governance in their lives.
No Nigerian should feel left out because “one of them was not in power”.
However, we were told that was a sign of “weakness”. Hopefully, we are enjoying the show of strength we are being subjected to now.
Over and over and over again, this president has shown us that if you are not from a certain region of the country and do not possess a hump (tozo) and a pair of horns; then your lives and aspirations are worthless.
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If you are Igbo, then you are even more worthless than worthlessness itself.
Case in point: “bandits” are sacking entire communities and hoisting insurgency flags in Niger state; a location that is a mere two-hour drive away from the capital city of Abuja; a state that shares boundary with the capital city has fallen to insurgents.
These same insurgents we have been assured times without numbers have been beaten back and subdued by the Nigerian Army are one short stone’s throw away from capturing the capital.
But while Emperor Buhari fiddles away as the nation collapses beneath him; the entire force and weight of the Nigerian Army is channelled towards repelling Bible-carrying, tracts-sharing and unarmed Igbo youth; whose only plea is to be separated from a union which no longer suits them.
Again, what does it take to capture Buhari’s attention and get treated like a Nigerian; a bona-fide citizen of Nigeria?
Two horns and a hump.
Other than that, the nation may burn for all he cares.
Indeed, there was a country!