Racism: Ours is an outsider who weeps more than the bereaved

By Tochi Juliet
A young, black lady in deep tears after being racially abused

An Igbo adage has it that a man does not chase rat while his house is on fire; however, this saying does not apply to my fellow Nigerians.

Recently, the world witnessed a racial injustice meted on George Floyd, the black American citizen who was killed by Minneapolis police. The death of Floyd generated a lot of outrage within and outside the United States.

My good Nigerian citizens took it upon themselves as some even protested in Lagos street over Floyd's death. Social media was set ablaze, with the hashtag 'say no to racism, black lives matters, Africans are equally human' were all trending on social media.

Situations as this brought tears into my eyes. I cried for my fellow Nigerians. I cried not because of Floyd's death even though I was pained and hurt by the injustice meted on him. I cried because Nigerians have turned to outsiders who weep more than the bereaved.

Igbo people also said 'No one climbs a tree from the top; you have to climb from the down to the top' such adage does not apply to Nigeria situation because they prefer anything foreign to locally made including 'foreign racism to local tribalism'.

This explains better why they should protest against racism in the US while they have tribalism in Nigeria eating deep to every system in this country.

Charity they say begins at home but in Nigeria Charity begins in abroad before getting home that is if it will ever get to home.

Tribalism has sucked deep into the bone marrow of this nation, but it bothers me that no one pays attention to it.

Let's talk about the Federal appointment in the country.

It is no longer news that the Northerners are the rulers of this nation not minding that Nigeria is a country with diverse cultures and ethnic groups. The 'tribal virus' has made a particular tribe highjack the affairs of this nation, and that's why a specific tribe occupies every high position in the country.

I think the country is practising more of gerontocracy instead of democracy. Ours is a government by elders, by family ties and relations, not a government of the people by the people for the people anymore.

Recently it was announced that the Federal Government allocated N13 billion as intervention fund for pest control in 12 northern states. According to the federal government, This allocation is to reduce the effects of COVID-19 on the nation's food sector. That's ridiculous!

The 12 `frontline' states to benefit from the fund are Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe and Borno States.

Do I still need to tell you more, I weep for Nigeria! What happened to other Southern and Eastern states, Agriculture is it meant for only northern states?

One may feel I was exaggerating when I said tribalism has eaten deep into every system in the country. Let's look at the system of education. What exactly is federal character if not sugar-coated tribalism?

In the year 2014, I had an average of 255 in my screening, and according to my department at the University of Nigeria, I narrowly escaped because the cut off was 255 equally. I had a friend who wrote 245 but never gained admission.

However, I was amazed when I got admitted and saw that those with 220 cutoff mark also was admitted, many of which are from the north.

I couldn't understand it. I enquired, and the answer I got was the federal character, and I wondered why the system has to favour a particular set of people not minding we are one Nigeria.

Why such a preferential treatment even in education, were they sleeping while others were reading or what exactly should give them such an upper hand?

In all these, none of my fellow Nigerians is speaking against it even those that carried placards all over Nigerian streets in the name of protest and justice for Floyd.

Let's bring it down-home. What about the parents that feel their child should not marry outside their state or tribe?

A Hausa man believes an Igbo man can do anything for money and such should not be giving a chance, an Igbo man sees Hausa man as an illiterate and a wicked soul who kills at any slightest provocation.

So Yoruba will refer to Igbo's to be ' Ajokuta maomi' and Igbo's will, in turn, will apply to Yoruba's as 'Ndi ofe mmanu'.

Even within the same ethnic group, there is still a division. An Anambra man takes himself to be superior to an Nsukka man. An Nsukka man also sees Anambra as an illiterate who pronounces 'r' as 'l'. I can go one and one making long lists about all these.

It is time to speak up against the ills in our society, stand against the evils of tribalism that have become a cankerworm in our system today. Let's join hands and make Nigeria a better place. It is time we stop being outsiders who cry more than the bereaved.