Nigeria: The Death of Objectivity and the Rise of Sentiments By Salihu Tanko Yakasai
Last Saturday, I was in Lagos for a meeting. And upon arriving at the airport while waiting for a friend to pick me up, a fight broke out about 10 feet away from where I stood, between a Yoruba man and a Hausa man. I paid close attention to what was the bone of contention and I realized that it was Hamza al-Mustapha’s acquittal a few days earlier by the Appeal Court in Lagos over charges of the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. It took the intervention of people around before they were able to stop the fight.
This incident suddenly reminded me of our ever clear and present fault lines as a nation. The deep seethed parallelism that lies beneath our diversity. Since the acquittal of Major Hamza al-Mustafa, these fault lines have been brought to fore in so many respects. While the South predominantly disagreed with the Appeal Court, the North (especially Kano) was in a celebratory mood, rejoicing and welcoming this judgment.
The incidence was like a Deja Vu to me as I have witnessed few other issues in the last couple of months that have sharply divided Nigerians into two camps, and this development is what I intend to bring to light, a certain pattern that I’ve noticed, which is building up in this country along ethnic and religious sentiments, rather than looking at each issues from an objective point of view.
Few weeks back, during the 15-year remembrance of Late General Sani Abacha, majority in the north (especially on social networks) were putting up his pictures and pouring praises and prayers on him, while my southern brothers and sisters were vehemently castigating him from all angles. On June 12 as well, the same thing happened, whereby the south was praising Abiola while the north was more or less mute on it. Then the flavor of the month, the current one being deliberated which is the issue of underage marriage, which I don’t even want to get into before I derail my article from the main reason of writing it in the first place.
In all these instances, al-Mustapha’s case, Abacha, Abiola and underage marriage, objectivity was lost during these debates, and replaced by sentiments. It’s even good to have an opinion about it, and choose to support any side as you deem fit with facts to back it up, but what caught my attention was the rain of unprintable insults that were flying all over during these debates, and the generalization which I detest the most. Just as Pius Adesanmi rightly coined it in his recent article, the rise of “Ebunism” is alarming in this country. Why can’t one have his views without those that are opposed to it lambasting him with derogatory insults? Why can’t we agree to disagree amicably? Why must you impose your devil on me, and make him my saint?
The more we go down this lane, the more the division and hatred will deepen among us. I have since disengaged from engaging anyone on a debate, I’ll say my views and read people’s comments on it. Those that make sense and have better argument than mine, I take from them, and those with inflammatory remarks that can easily degenerate into bickering and “Ebunism” I simply ignore. For the rise of sentiments will surely keep polarizing us, instead of objectively analyzing issues, and finding a common ground.
Tanko Yakasai is a proud husband and father of two. He is a broadcaster with Freedom Radio, Kano. Yakasai believes in the unity and development of Nigeria, which paved his way into community activities through NGOs in transforming our society for the better. He is a registered member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
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