Ethnic and religious bigotry: Who is to blame?

Nigeria is a heterogonous nation of different tribes and religions, the major tribes being Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba; Islam and Christianity being the major religions being practiced by its populace. Even though, the religions teach love and tolerance, it is very worrisome to see how our dear country is full of bigotry, intolerance, envy and hate. We are being unjust to ourselves. People refer to all northerners as illiterates; just because of regional, political and religious differences; this is very irresponsible of anyone. In as much as I would not like to join issues with anyone, but it is my responsibility as a good citizen of Nigeria to contribute in any way I can to set the records straight.

Young people like me did not witness the events of the 60s and 70s, however have a good knowledge of the years that followed. The media is very important for dissemination of information and propaganda; which if not handled properly can misinform and feed all sorts of junks to people. The media in my country can be said to be solely owned by the south. The northern Nigeria has failed to invest appreciably into this sector. Unfortunately, the handlers of the media have erroneously fed people wrong information, and poisoned their minds and thoughts. They have continuously attack the north especially the Hausa Fulani using this weapon. The media has made an average southerner and even the northern Christian to believe that the Muslim Hausa / Fulani is his enemy and problem. No man is infallible except those chosen by God; there might have been mistakes along the way; I do not think is a reason for the continued persecution.

The levels of hatred, humiliation, abuse and injustice is beyond comprehension. There were instances when our southern neighbors make all sorts of deductions about the north that they have never visited nor known. You cannot sit down and write rubbish concerning a people without actually studying them. That is an abuse of the knowledge you claim to possess. The white man did not sit in the comfort of his country to do same rather he explored the different parts of the world. Nobody has monopoly of knowledge that which you know, someone somewhere knows it better than you do, but due to your ignorance you failed to accept it. This is the situation we found ourselves. It is appalling, disheartening and un-called for to hear people even academics making claims and assertions that lack verifiable proofs.

I will in this paragraph mention two instances I witnessed, where people who are considered intellectuals depicted their bigotry and hate against the northern Muslims. Firstly, when we were privileged to enjoy the PTDF M.Sc. overseas scholarship to the UK; some of our southern colleagues look at us as lesser humans, and less intelligent to deserve or merit the award. This is because those were the notions inculcated in them, and it would be difficult to change. However, as Allah has designed even before we were born when the results of the first semester were released; we cleared their doubts, and emerged triumphant. A second scenario was when Malam Umaru Musa Yaradua was sick, and flown abroad. I overheard a former colleague of mine from the south east telling his sister from the same region in a language I understand (unknown to him), that it serves the north right. The jinx will be broken, and that if Umaru dies one of their own will become president. Interestingly, the lady questioned the humanity in him; how can he wish his fellow human being such evil. His perception did not perturb me because as a Muslim I know Allah has predestined everything; when you will be born or die, everything you will achieve in life. One good lesson I learnt that day, was that there are good people everywhere irrespective of tribe and religion.

Furthermore, at the political scene it is imperative for the so-called intellectuals to learn and understand politics and its arithmetic. Alas, political gladiators have created more harm than good for the Nigerian society; it is obvious there is distrust between the citizens. Political awareness is very important; for instance, look at the pattern of voting at the just concluded 2019 presidential elections. During the current electioneering regime, lots of people including the elites exposed their ignorance. The abuse and intolerance was too much, and people killing themselves for those who have no concern for them, this is awful!

Similarly, on the fight against corruption; people are overwhelmed. However, lots of Nigerians worry about it when they are not the beneficiary. Some people in the public sector are even more corrupt than the politicians they mock. Hence, there should be sincerity of purpose and intentions by all. One should not cheat, steal, extort, or engage in criminal and scandalous activities in order to make money.

Lastly, my appeal to all is to shun envy, bigotry, hatred, intolerance and bitterness. By doing so you will be different from the illiterates and appear civilized.

Dr. Adam wrote this piece from Kano

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