Chinua Achebe knew (2)


Last Friday, I noted that this piece was informed by an audio recording someone sent to me. I didn’t open the recording, let alone listen to it. The person that I’m informed is in the audio recording, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, isn’t one of my favourites when it comes to dissecting Nigeria’s challenges. Among other things, he comes from a tribe where they traditionally hate ‘the other tribe’, so his type can’t lecture me on what Nigeria’s challenges are and ‘who causes them.’

I never bothered to read the things he wrote when he was here. For his type doesn’t build nations, his type only fester divisiveness among peoples by focusing on and peddling one story, one angle, their own narrow angle. They give a simplistic explanation to a complex problem, they forever point accusing fingers; they and their tribes don’t contribute to the problem. It’s always the other tribe. Some may take this man as the last word on what the challenges of Nigeria are and who is responsible. I don’t. I avoid divisive persons; they’re poison – encouraging hatred, sowing division. Rwanda happened because of characters like him.

Going by his profession as a banker, this man must have had an academic background in the actuarial sciences. I have an academic background in the social sciences, political science specifically, and at three different degree levels. So what I studied all my life is how the machinery, the dynamics of society, government, politics, politicians function. I studied how the input and output, as well as the feedbacks that are in the engine of any polity, interact and the effects they have. I studied under the best minds in political science that Nigeria has produced. These are excellent intellectuals who objectively analyse how a polity functions. They weren’t trained to accommodate sentiments; they didn’t train me to let hatred for ‘the other tribe’ becloud my observation and analysis of issues.

So this person, whose voice was in the audio, can’t lecture me. I should lecture him, and be his supervisor if I happen to be a lecturer and he happens to be my student running a PhD programme in Political Science. People of his calibre are blinded by tribal hatred. They cause hysteria rather than proffer meaningful solutions to problems. The opinion leader who hypes problems rather than proffer solutions is no leader. Whoever follows what such a leader says will become more confused and frustrated. It’s what has become the lot of many Nigerians who follow opinion leaders such as this former CBN employee.

He believed tribe is Nigeria’s problem, when a clean dissection of issues, with illustrations, shows this is far from the truth. That he didn’t read Political Science shouldn’t mean he shouldn’t have a clear view of what the issues were. After all, Chinua Achebe was a literary person, yet he clearly identified the trouble with Nigeria. Everyone would follow their path on issues though; the banker followed the divisive path his tribe had wired him for.

Note that when people of his kind sit in offices; occupying posts as representatives of their tribes, they behave the same as ‘the other tribe’ they accuse of causing Nigeria’s problems.  The pocket of the Nigerian elite is their priority. They loot, sometimes in a bid to further their careers – political or professional. As for the professionals, we’ve heard it reported, for instance, that some engage in oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region to have enough funds to bribe people in order to be appointed as Chief of Army Staff. As for the political elite, they loot to store enough resources to buy political party structure and be what they want to be. Looting is done by all occupiers of offices from every tribe. But they always return to their kinsmen to claim that ‘the other tribe’ does all the looting.

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As minister, governor, or Director General, not many office holders can be exonerated from the looting spree and it’s always in billions of naira. I don’t know if they share what they loot with all members of their tribe. If they do, a majority of their tribesmen won’t be as poor as members of ‘the other tribe’ that they claim are Nigeria’s problems. Has anyone seen a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in whose house millions of dollars were found, locked up? His people are no better than the majority of the tribe they traditionally hate. Yet his tribesmen are all over the place, co-opting other Nigerians into perennially accusing ‘the other tribe’ of being the cause of Nigeria’s problems.

There are as well the tribes who say they want to break away from Nigeria. They have leaders who badmouth Nigeria and ‘the other tribe’ on every platform. While saying what they say, their own elite are never cited as collaborators in how Nigeria got to where it is. Yet their elite are among those who quietly shared 13 per cent derivation oil funds for which the immediate past Accountant General, Idris Ahmed, was removed from office. That was the fund ‘the other tribe’ once supported them to get from federal allocation for the purpose of salvaging oil-induced environmental degradation. Elite from their tribe share looted funds, but kinsmen won’t see them as causing problems for the country. It’s the other tribe that causes problems.

The other day, the Attorney General of the Federation approved that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should prosecute the case of a former Minister of Aviation from this same tribe. She was among the elite from different tribes who shared N5bn naira loot. Note that the elite across tribes know how to use their privileged positions to protect one another. The reasons may vary from political to economic interest. After a senator from this same tribe was sentenced for looting the treasury while he was the state governor, his fellow political elite worked to set him free. The senator has since shown gratitude to the politician who led in the effort.

Before the last election primaries, he said if the politician, then a presidential aspirant, who assisted him, won the presidency in 2023, he would be a sweeper for him in Aso Villa. I suppose he meant he would do for his fellow political elite what he knew how to do best – sweep the treasury clean of funds. It should be noted, however, that the same presidential aspirant that this senator said he would sweep for, is from ‘the other tribe’ that his tribesmen always demonise, and I’m certain he too demonizes behind closed doors. You see, they stoop to lick boots when doing business with fellow elite across tribes pays them; when it doesn’t, they tell their kinsmen that ‘the other tribe’ consists of demons who cause Nigeria’s problems.

This pattern creates a national dilemma, for instance, security dilemma. The looting, done by all tribes in agencies and in the military, ensures that the government becomes helpless in the face of incessant violent attacks. Soldiers are demoralised because of poor salaries and delayed payment of other entitlements. Soldiers are killed in dozens because items of equipment don’t get to them on time, and the desire to sacrifice for the nation is ebbing. But, does anyone recall a former senior military officer from whom a multimillion naira building was seized in Wuse II, Abuja? I went past the building the other week, and I was telling someone that this military officer belonged to tribes where they believed only ‘the other tribe’ caused Nigeria’s problems. Of course, his tribesmen wouldn’t remember that their son, by looting so much, was a contributor.  The foregoing shows that the elite from every tribe equally contribute to how the elite from ‘the other tribe’ are able to do whatever they are wrongly or rightly accused of. They loot as well as abuse their offices too, so they shouldn’t talk when the elite from ‘the other tribe’ do whatever they do. Yet they tell their kinsmen that it’s ‘the other tribe’ that is responsible for all wrongs. No tribe as a whole, with those helpless people in their millions, sets out to harm Nigeria. It’s the elite across tribes – the leadership – who’re organised enough to mess around with the nation’s destiny. We see it happening around us. Achebe clearly dissected this and he had rightly placed the blame.


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