An old woman had some little inheritance. Being old and without a husband, she had the wisdom to seek an investment outlet, to prevent her small fortune from dwindling. She settled for a grinding machine (in Hausa language, injinnika). Not being able to oversee the operations, she entrusted the machine to a local, traditional, Qur’anic teacher. The grinding machine went into operation. After some time the old woman had cause to confront Mallam: returns were abysmally low, sometimes non existent. She said: Mallam, this machine apparently is not blessed, in that return on investment is very low. Mallam, being truthful countered the old lady: machine is highly blessed! I eat and drink from it daily!
The old lady was a victim of poor governance. There is a puzzle in Nigerian democracy. Before the puzzle there is myth: a monolithic Igbos ethnic group. They are highly harmonious amongst themselves. Unlike other human beings, Nigerians, they think alike in all that they do, particularly when it comes to politics. So lovable and peace – loving are they to one another, that one of their cities, the centre of their Caliphate, Enugu, has the singular distinction of being the crime capital of Nigeria! Victims of crime cannot in all honesty love it. Unless one cherishes being robbed, kidnapped, raped, 419ned, or even killed.
Now the puzzle. If your nerve centre is the crime capital of Nigeria, one would want to assume that you need a good government to drastically bring it down. Unless of course you are all criminals, in that case, you need crime to escalate, to allow each member of the community to express themselves. By pronouncements, by their voting or not – voting behaviour, Igbos have shown preference for poor governance.
Today, a coordinating minister, who unfortunately is an Igbo, has, in collaboration with an Igbo President, brought the Nigerian economy to its knees. All the leaders of Nigeria’s financial regulatory bodies (CBN, SEC, NSE, finance ministry) are Ibos. And we, the rest, know how we feel. The Igbos have a cultural association called OHAENAEZE. It has the power to direct the Igbos, or so we are told, as the wind directs a straw, whichever way it chooses. So if it says Igbos choose your own perdition, they will rush headlong into it, like the followers of Reverend Johnson, the poison dispenser of US.
But Igbos are not fools. A lecturer of mine in the university said any fool can make money. I disagreed then, I disagree now. Fools don’t make money. Money is made on purpose. Anyone who has a purpose cannot be a fool. The reality of the world shows us who are fools: they are those who believe in equity. If you need a functional, caring government before you thrive, or achieve your objectives, then you must be under the guidance of a fool. So there is the need for us to understand the nature of Igbo society.
Though I am not a sociologist, it is different from Yoruba or Hausa society. Success in Yoruba society today is dependent on Western education. I am a Hausa man, but I do not know upon what is success based in our society. If I may hazard a guess, it is based on Qur’anic education. Greater number of the rich in Hausa society did not attend modern schools. Their success comes from trading. In this they are like Igbos. But the Igbos have a network. The Hausa do not have.
Why is it that the Igbos insist on dominating the aviation industry? In order to control the airports.With a coordinating Minister giving waiver on import duties left, right, and centre, you may not have to cracking your brains to know who are the beneficiaries. If you were to say Hausa people are aspiring to the presidency through Buhari, I will tell you that you are wrong. By the time he becomes President, he will implement his agenda as he deems fit. Not so with the Yoruba when Obasanjo ruled: Afenifere said he was implementing their agenda. Not so with the Hausas. When Abacha ruled, or misruled, they took the blame, even though they had no control over him: he was a Kanuri after all!
If we believe that the ethnicity of Igbos as the bonding factor, the glass ceiling that will not allow any outside idea to penetrate, then Igbos are certainly not qualified to rule Nigeria. But they are now ruling by proxy. And Nigeria is on its knees. Gowon and his co-travellers made a mistake. A people who cannot see any good in others save in themselves wanted to relieve Nigeria of their burden, shackle. He insisted in retaining them. This is where it has landed us. Here is a government that says that government must accommodate “mere stealing”; that hobnobs with all characters who have no ethics or guiding principles.
If the Igbos cannot integrate into mainstream Nigeria, then Nigeria ought not survive, unless it is to turn into the crime capital of Africa.
Musa Abdullahivia firstname.lastname@example.org