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ETHNO-RELIGIONS TENSION IN NIGERIA

March 5, 2019

Greetings, folks!

Tribal tension is currently raging between the peoples of the Yoruba and Igbo tribes of Nigeria. It has received appreciable reactions by wise and informed persons from both sides of the divide, and some neutral observers to boot. I am not one to over-flog an issue. So, I will only summarize the situation as I address it from a couple of non-flogged perspectives.

1) Divide & Rule Politicians Are The Real Culprits:

If I said it once, I said it a gazillion times, that Nigeria’s destructive, divisive ethno-religious bigotry is the machination of select evil individuals in Nigeria. Some of them are called political godfathers, who believe that Nigeria belongs to them. They believe that they must determine who does what, or who holds what position in the leadership of the nation. The evil ethno-religious bigots among them hate peoples of different backgrounds. They are the problem of Nigeria’s unity. Hence, it is my view that Nigeria’s true problem is not a matter of Yoruba tribe versus Igbo tribe. It is not about Hausa tribe versus the Yoruba or the Igbo or Edo tribes, either. Nope, it is not any tribe versus any the other; no, sir/ma’am! And, it is not about Christianity versus Islam, or any other religion. It is not really about political parties, either; no, sir, no ma’am!!!

Rather, the problem is bad persons in Nigeria. Importantly, the bad persons do exist in all the tribes, all the religions, and all the political parties. They are relatively minuscule in number, mind you, but they have managed to subjugate the entire population. They have the might to suppress majority public opinions or desires. They do whatever it is that they want to do, and then tell the world that they are representing the opinions and interests of the people of the nation. Sure, they may actually represent the hypocritical views of a section of the population that sold their souls to them. They may also represent the views of some underprivileged mindless youths who worship them; the ones that they buy for peanuts as thugs to commit mayhem for them. But, they certainly do not represent the views of the greater majority of the intelligent people of Nigeria, meeeeeeeeeeen!!!

One of their tools of trade is Divide-&-Rule, and they do this through religious and tribal sentiments. They are aware of the gullibility of the “masses” of Nigeria in matters of religion and tribe; so, they clash the tribes and religions for their selfish gains. It pays them politically and financially well to instigate the ignorant foolish youths in their own tribes and religions against other tribes and religions. There is ongoing public enlightenment campaign in the nation against political thuggery. But, unfortunately, the self-serving evil politicians are still able to recruit ignorant foolish youths to do their evil bidding. They pay them peanuts to commit atrocities, while their own children are safe and prospering in faraway western countries.

With these kinds of sinners among all the tribes, tribal and religious tension has been a very protracted tradition in Nigeria. There is ever-going ethno-religious war trumpets from one tribe or another. In 1967, Biafra war emanated from this evil tradition. Now, some fools who did not see the horrors of that war are spoiling for a second war. They are being instigated by the crooks who thrive on blood money. Some of the crooks did see the Biafra war, but they don’t give a damn what it takes to achieve their present evil political and economic goals. This is what is currently playing out in Lagos. It started manifesting on the 23rd of January, 2019. That was when the political crooks instigated some ignorant Yoruba Lagos indigenes to deprive Igbo people that are resident in Lagos their constitutional right to cast their votes for political candidates of their choices.

The wonderful news is that overwhelming majority of the good people of the Yoruba race reject and condemn the evil machinations of the political crooks who brew the trouble. Many have spoken out against it, including one Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe. He wrote a great treatise on the subject. The outpour of condemnation by the Yoruba nation inspired me for this piece, because I want to complement their good comments on the other side of the divide. I want to caution the Igbo youths that I may reach, against unguarded, inter-tribal inflammatory words. I have already heard some trumpets of war emanating from some of my ignorant Igbo youths. They stupidly challenge the Yoruba nation to a war, based on the stupidity of the few evil Yoruba thugs. No sensible Igbo person would insult the entire Yoruba nation for the evil deeds of few fools that are instigated and paid by few political crooks to commit atrocities for their selfish gains. This is the type of grave mistake that started the Biafra war.

Yes, indeed! Less than ten Igbo soldiers, without any referendum to solicit the approval of the Igbo population, fomented the trouble. For whatever their personal reasons were, they killed some officers and leaders of other tribes. If they had asked my opinion, though just a little Igbo boy then, I would have told them to go to hell with their plan to kill the victims. I wouldn’t care what their reason was. On their part, the northern soldiers that retaliated the killings of their “brothers” did not give a damn that stereotyping, judging and punishing a whole tribe of people for the sins of five or six men, is very sinful on its own, too. The essence of this message to the Igbo youths that are spoiling for war is: When a Yoruba man does or says something wrong, please try and control yourself and limit your condemnation to the culprit, and not the entire Yoruba nation, meeeeeeeee!!!

This plea is Part One of this treatise, which comes to you as a series. It is safe to say that today’s “indigenes” of lands around the world were mere visitors, or sojourners, or migrants in those lands, yesteryears. Most of us migrated from elsewhere to wherever that we are today. The farther back the migration past of a given group is, the more ownership, or more indigenous the people claim in their present settlement. In not-so-distant past, wars commonly happened as migrants arrived in new territories to sojourn or settle. Many migrant groups forcibly conquered the portion(s) of the land that they sought and migrated to. And, in some cases, the invaders completely dispossessed the “indigenes” of the entire land. In some other cases, the migrants actually enslaved the indigenes. They were invaders and conquerors and land-grabbers, meeeeeeeeeeen!!!

In the Americas, for instance, and in line with my thesis statement in titling, the “earlier indigenes,” the Amerindians, were invaded by Europeans. It started with the accidental “discovery” of that “New World” in 1492 by Christopher Columbus; followed by the eventual colonization by Europe. The European conquistadors and their beneficiaries soon became the owners or “indigenes” of the land. The “indigenes” that they met in the land, the Amerindians, are now near to extinction. In North America, they have degenerated from a conquered and displaced people of estimated 112 million population in 1492, to the estimated low of 2.1 million, and possible estimated high of 18 million population by the 1800s. Now, referring to my thesis again, and going further back in history, one may also ask: Where did the Amerindians migrate from, and when? One thing is for sure, they did migrate from somewhere to their locations in the Americas; and, I before long, I will tell you why.

Similarly, the Nok people and their culture occupied the entire region of West Africa over 40 thousand years ago, including the land now known as Nigeria. That was long before the Yoruba people, the Igbo people, the Hausa, the Ijaw, Edo, and all the groups or tribes that we know today as Nigerians arrived on the scene. The Nok culture seemed to vanish under unknown circumstances around 300 AD. Again, one may also ask, where did the Nok people come from, and when, exactly? And we can go on, and on, and on, down that history lane, until the entire humanity is connected to the same family tree of the world. I speak of the first parents and first abode of the human race—Adam and Eve and their garden of Eden—from where we all spread.

Some of us subscribe to this religious Adam and Eve and their Garden of Eden progenition history. Others subscribe to the theory of evolution from the ape. Either way, the puzzle is the same. Planet earth is said to be about 4.5 billion years old; and, the first primates (the species that humanity belongs) appeared on earth about 50 to 55 million years ago. Anyway, while I let the anthropological scientists figure out their controversial creation and evolution theories, let’s get back to my own simpler brief story about migration of humanity from one location to another, as it relates to my peoples in Nigeria.

Now, let’s go with the religious Adam and Eve belief and story, which is dominant among the non-scientific masses of the world. The entire present human race started from Noah’s Ark with what was left of the original children of Adam and Eve after the big flood. Before the flood, we had all spread from the Garden of Eden to populate wherever humanity had occupied in the world. The point here, in conclusion, is that all the present-day Nigerians were once migrants or sojourners in the land sometime, because, our primary progenitors started from the Garden of Eden, or Noah’s Ark. And, from what we know now, the Garden of Eden is not in Nigeria; neither was Noah’s Ark. While some archeologists claim that the Garden of Eden is somewhere in modern Turkey, others insist that it is near the Persian Gulf.

          Migrations Of Igbos And Yorubas: World over, ancient history is fraught with ambiguities and conflicting accounts of events, and locations, and dates. This is the deficiency of the ancient oral tradition of passing history from one generation to the next through the word of mouth. So, a good portion of the world history is based on theories and hypothesis; to make up for the lost unwritten information. No wonder, humanity is in perpetual quest for new discoveries. One of the most popular versions of the Igbo origin is the migration of Jews from the Middle East, as contained in the Christian Bible. The same Eri that is in the Christian Bible was the leader of that migrant group.

          Eri was the 5th son of Gad; and Gad was the seventh of Jacob’s twelve children. Jacob, who was also known as Israel, had migrated to Egypt with his family and 70 other relatives. The bible does not say the whereabouts of some of the twelve children of Jacob after the migration to Egypt. And they are commonly referred to as the “Lost tribes of Israel.” Upon arrival in West Africa, Eri and his group travelled along the bank of Omambala River, until they found a suitable location in Aguleeri in the present southeastern Nigeria. They later spread out and settled in the southeastern part of today’s Nigeria, eventually assuming the name “Igbo people.”

One of the popular accounts of the Yoruba migration says that the ancestors were the descendants of Cush, the son of Ham. And Ham was the third son of Noah. For thousands of years, they settled in the ancient cities of Mecca and Medina, which is presently known as Saudi Arabia. When Prophet Mohammed introduced Islam around 600AD, they were driven out of Saudi Arabia because they refused to give up their trado-religious faith for Islam. They migrated to the banks of River Nile in Egypt, where they mingled with Egyptian Arabs, Nubians and the Sudanese. Many settled in Egypt, but majority eventually migrated to north-eastern zone of Nigeria. There they met the Shuwa Arabs and the Kanuris of the Borno people. They mingled, and even bred with the Arabs and Kanuris, before the final southwest migration to Ile-Ife. From Ile-Ife, Oduduwa encouraged his children to spread and populate the land known today as Southwest Nigeria, among which is Lagos.

Today, civilization and immigration laws have modified the rules, and, the old-time invasion of a territory by a foreign group is no longer tenable. Well, at least, I should say that it is no longer common. What is left of it has been modified for modern time political and diplomatic correctness. Unlike the old days when migrants invaded and conquered their targeted land, if you migrate to a new land today, you pay for whatever you possess, including the piece of land where you live or do business. Indeed, unlike the ancient times when the migrant invaders taxed the conquered indigenes to death, today’s migrants pay taxes to the authorities in the host land for the right to live and do business in their territory.

This is how it is today for the Igbo people of Nigeria who migrate from their southeast region to the southwest city of Lagos. They arrive in peace, and pay their dues to possess whatever they possess in the land. Yet, some Yoruba “indigenes” of Lagos describe them as “invaders” of their land, who must brutally be punished. The ignorant Lagos “indigenes” with this misguided mentality often go beyond threats, and actually attack the Igbos, without provocation. They are often incited by the people that I call the real perpetrators of the evil, the select political power-insane crooks, for their selfish evil gains.

Nigeria has fought a tribal war once, and, some crooks are inciting some ignorant fools in the country to plunge the nation into another war!!! The Yoruba fools in Lagos jump to the war call of the crooks that sponsor them because they did not see the horrors of the first war. If they did, they would think twice before rushing to another tribal war. Some Igbo youths are so misguided, too. For instance, some have risked and lost their lives in allegiance to the self-serving Nnamdi Kanu of the Igbo race and his war-mongering antics in a tribal “marginalization” problem that should be addressed diplomatically and politically.

The Yoruba-Igbo tribal conflicts have become a perennial tradition in Lagos, and the standing grievance of the Yoruba youths is that the Igbos left their southeastern region and “invaded” their Lagos territory, acquiring “too much” of their inheritance or landed property. The rhetoric question on the lips of all the good objective peoples of Nigeria is this: Did the Igbos acquire the Lagos property in the ancient true meaning of “invasion” as the Yoruba youths put it; did they forcible acquire the property at gun-point? The answer is, no! The Igbos negotiated and paid for the property, in modern business transactions? The Lagos youths sold their property to the Igbos, often at exorbitant prices. And some of them simply senselessly squandered the proceeds on parties. Then, when they woke up from their stupor, they turned around to accuse the Igbos of invading their territory and dispossessing them of their inheritance. As an adage goes, they ate their cake, and still want to retain it in their possession.

With this grudge, the recalcitrant Yoruba youths continue to look for excuses to foment trouble for the Igbos. The “sin” of the Igbos in the current tension is their desire to exercise their constitutional right to vote for their preferred candidates in the presidential and legislators’ elections of 23rd February, 2019. The recalcitrant Yoruba Lagos “indigenes” insisted (still insist) that if the Igbos want to continue to reside in Lagos, they must vote for the political candidates of the “indigenes’” choice. The “indigenes” descended on the Igbos to enforce this demand, disrupted their voting exercise, and burned the ballots that they had already cast. Then, the Yorubas went further to set some of the Igbo businesses and shops ablaze. I am writing this about 24 hours before the next round of elections (governorship and state legislators’) of March 9th, 2019. The February 23rd mayhem is most likely to continue in Lagos. The fear is that it would be bloodier this time around, because some Igbos have vowed not to “turn the other cheek” if the Yoruba political crooks and their ignorant foolish foot-soldiers try a “second-leg” of their ugly match. They seem ready for war this time around.

As I said, the good news is that the majority good people of the Yoruba race have continued to condemn the recalcitrant Yoruba youths and their evil sponsors, urging them to cease and desist. I listened to a Yoruba elder, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe on TV. He warned the recalcitrant Yoruba youths of the possible consequences of repeating their atrocities. He warned that Igbo people are not going to fold their arms and just lament this time around. He warned that the Igbos are more rugged and “more aggressive,” and they would be waiting to revenge the act of February 23, 2019. Now, that’s what I’m talking about!!! Yes, indeed, good people in all tribes and all religions must come together to fight, in various ways against the bad people. We must transcend ethno-religious boundaries, for the common interest of the nation.

As the good people of the Yoruba race condemn and caution their youths, so should the Igbos, too, and, they do. Naturally, some Igbo people who are incensed by the unprovoked mayhem of the recalcitrant Yoruba youths are threatening fire and brimstone. Unfortunately, retaliation threats coming from some ignorant Igbos is not limited to the recalcitrant ignorant Yoruba persons and their evil political sponsors. Their unguarded words have the unwarranted tone of Yoruba versus Igbo war, which is obviously senseless.

Stereotyping is an ugly thing to do between any races or communities. When a man does or says something wrong, the only sensible thing is to direct the condemnation to the man. It is senseless to attack the entire family or entire tribe, or entire religion of the culprit. I lament with every opportunity, the tribal and religious bigotry eating up Nigeria, which is caused by the bad people in all the tribes and religions, for their own selfish evil gains. So, for me, the real problem with Nigeria is not between the tribes or the religions. It is between the bad people and the good people in all the religions and all the tribes.

The solution is for the good people in all the tribes and religions to come together across the boundaries, and gang up against the bad people in all the tribes and religions. The common denominator for the campaign is ‘bad,’ and not tribe or religion. It should never be about tribes versus tribes, or religion versus religion; rather. Rather, it must become good people within all the tribes and religions versus the bad people within all the tribes and religions of the country…No more ethno-religious bullshitting, meeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!

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