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Op-ed: Which is Nigeria’s major tribe?

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 By Emmanuel Onwubiko 

There are distinctive Phenomena that define the urgency of the now to effect fundamental changes to the ways and manners that Nigeria is governed.

First, is the unfortunate realization that Nigerian youth in their hundreds -of -thousands have embarked on a journey to uncertainty to the land of developed civilizations of Western Europe. 

These young Nigerians are not keen adventurers. They are not tourists looking for where to unwind and relax so as to reenergize.

These set of Nigerians who have taken the perilous route of navigating the Mediterranean seas through the rapidly collapsing and lawless Libyan Coast, are compelled to migrate to anywhere but Africa where at least they are not exposed to untimely death from a range of freelance armed hoodlums.

These youth from Nigeria specifically are not alone in these journeys to Europe through those irregular routes but are joined by Africans from such war torn and lawless parts in West, East and central Africa.

Collectively, these young Nigerians genuinely seeking asylums not for economic reasons but for the reason that lives are constantly under threats in Nigeria and a large part of West Africa, have been called African boat people. Called them whatever name you want. But one fact that is existentially accurate is that in much of Africa, life has become miserable, uninteresting, threatened, and cheap. 

In Nigeria as well as in large part of Africa life has become so cheap so much so that people gets killed and the killers aren’t arrested, prosecuted or punished.

Sadly, the streets of Europe are not paved with gold but those who managed to escape death on high seas and crosses the Rubicon to berth into Europe and especially Italy, have started to get a living from hands -to- mouths. 

These asylum seekers and refugees are experiencing tormenting life time of want, deprivation and poverty. But it is said that necessity is the mother of invention and so amongst the ranks of these refugees have arisen a percentage of them who would rather work menial jobs to put body and soul together than starve to death.

As I write, the British Broadcasting service is airing a special video recording of lots of Nigerian Youth who have stopped begging for their survival in the streets of Italy but have found solace in becoming voluntary street sweepers.

In two quick paragraphs, the British Broadcasting Media summed up the ordeals of these young Nigerians even though the other disturbing trend of trafficking of youngsters for sexual slavery was not mentioned in this specific report.

BBC reports as follows:“Italy has been cracking down on migrants arriving from Libya. This week, three aid agencies have stopped their rescue missions on the Mediterranean route from Libya.”

“97,000 migrants have reached Italy already this year. It’s hard to find a job if you’re in the process of claiming asylum but a group of Nigerians living in a migrant camp in Rome have started a voluntary street sweeping collective. It was founded by Wisdom and Osas, who came up with the idea because they had no money but did not want to beg on the streets.” 

As i said, there are also hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians trafficked into Europe for commercial sexual enslavement. The Nigerian Anti-human trafficking agency (NAPTIP) is too weak and grossly underfunded to check the trend. 

The second phenomenon being discussed here is the rapidly expanding rates of poverty afflicting over one hundred million Nigerians made up largely of young persons who although have managed to go through the unstable but costly public and private school system in Nigeria but can’t find jobs.

This second reality has led to social crimes perpetrated by young persons even as another disturbing trend that is a fall out from the gale of mass poverty sweeping all across Nigeria, is the increasing spread of hate messages, hate crimes and the deliberate misapplication of the security forces by the top hierarchy who are only concerned about defending their political, regional and religious affiliations.

In the current dispensation, the majority of the top echelons  of the security forces are of Hausa/Fulani ethnicity which produced president Muhammadu Buhari.

These skewed and unconstitutional appointments are fueling a lot of distrusts in the society.

However, this large deposit of distrust and discord is used by a certain class of Nigerians to unleash persistent disagreement amongst the largest tribe in Nigeria which remains the poverty stricken millions of Nigerians. 

The absolutely impoverished constitute the largest tribal group in Nigeria but this major tribe are the readymade ragtag army that are deployed by the political elite to unleash violence at opponents so they (ruling elite) can remain in power. 

Few hours back, the Charly boy’s led anti- Buhari protesters were hauled with stones and got bloodied by a bunch of hoodlums (from the North) thought to have been procured by Presidency officials to scuttle the protest to force the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari to return to his desk or resign since he has spent over three months in London and a whooping N11 billion of public fund has been spent for his treatment. 

This is even as millions of deprived Nigerians are dying from treatable diseases due to poverty and lack of accessto quality healthcare services in Nigeria. 

Nigeria is now a ruined entity but the casualties are the major tribe of Nigerians identified by me as the absolutely impoverished and deprived. 

Sadly, Nigerians who can be categorised as belonging to the major tribe are now used as canon fodders by the elite to prosecute their wars. 

As I write, Nigeria can best be described as an epicenter of troubling ethno-religious boiling pot of disharmony and discord which are constantly stoked by a tribe of political and economic elites who at best can be described as politico-economic predators. 

These predators play on ethno-religious sentiments to create upheavals even as they always benefit from these social conflicts. But why are the majority being used by the minority to serve the interest of this class of political and economic predators?

The above predators are indeed the tiniest minority since the British colonialists transmitted the baton of political independence in 1960.

But soon after independence, another sinister variant emerged in the garb of the military rulers who wielded political powers for many years before eventually transmitting the baton of political offices to their acolytes called civilian politicians in 1999.

In Nigeria due largely to the overwhelming influence of capitalism and the worship of consumerism, these political and economic predators have successfully  hijacked the apparatuses of governance control; and economic powers meaning that survival within the political space called Nigeria is tied to their apron strings.

The political dominance of this clique started even before the British colonialists but got consolidated soon thereafter. 

However, there comes a time in the development epochs of a nation when there arises the need to take stocks and decide to change the status quo since philosophers say the only thing permanent in life is change. One intellectual power house that can provide the revolutionary tonic to effect the kind of change that can transform the oppressors into living and leading lives of decency is the then Prussian born (present day Getmany) philosopher Mr. Karl Marx.

A meticulous reading of the writings of Karl Marx tells us that the best way to attain good governance is to retrieve the Country from the hands of predators and hand it over to the people. Marx is eminently qualified to guide us because of the fact that he witnessed excruciating oppression during his days and even on two occasions got expelled from France because of his revolutionary line of thinking. 

In his thinking, Karl Marx reasoned that change means the emergence of new structures, and novel forms. 

He argued that what causes change is simply the quantitative alteration of things, which leads to something qualitatively new. 

For example, as one increases the temperature of water, it not only becomes warmer, but finally reaches the point at which this quantitative change changes water from a liquid into vapor. 

Accordingly, reversing the process by gradually decreasing the temperature of water, one finally changes it from a liquid to a solid, to ice. Similarly, a large pane of glass can be made to vibrate, the range of the vibrations increasing as the quantity of force applied to it is increased. 

For Karl Marx, this is the process that has moved history from the primitive, communal to the slave, and in turn to the feudal and capitalist epochs.

Indeed, Marx’s prediction that the capitalist order would fall was  based upon this notion that the changes in the quantitative factors in capitalism would inevitably destroy capitalism.

With the low key expression of one who was describing how water will turn into steam as the heat is increased, Marx wrote in his capital that “while there is a progressive diminution in the number of capitalist magnates, there is of course a corresponding increase in the mass of poverty, enslavement, degeneration and exploitation, but at the same time a steady intensification of the role of the working class. 

Then “the centralization of the means of production and the socialization of labor reach a point where they are incompatible with their capitalist husk. This burst asunder. The knell of private property sounds.  

This, on the social level, is what Marx describes as the qualitative leap, which is “the leap to a new aggregate state…..where consequently quantity is transformed into quality”.

In effect, the simple interpretation to these scenarios if applied to our peculiar case study is that the major tribe of Nigerians constituting the poor, the deprived, the unemployed, the young, must banish all the trappings of attachments to primordial sentiments of religion or Ethnicity and work collectively to end tjeir enslavement. It’s either this liberation movement is waged or we all perished. The tokenism of passing the not too young to govern bill is just a gambit and a bait to hoodwink these persons that constitute the clear majority. Let us repossess our Country now. 

Onwubiko is Head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) blogs@www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwa@blogspot.com.


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