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Fani-Kayode and the Igbos – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

Femi-Fani-Kayode-360x270By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo | NNP | August 10, 2013 – I am not in any way attempting to hold brief for the Igbos as they are more than capable of doing so for themselves.  However, I wish to make a few comments about the unsavory article written by Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, titled The Bitter Truth about the Igbos,” published on www.newnigerianpolitics.com on August 8, 2013. There were several innuendos, wanton assumptions, worrisome generalizations and inherent flaws expressed by the former aviation minister that are not only inimical to the unity of Nigeria, but regrettably showcase his colossal and unforgivable ignorance in matters of history, economics and even contemporary politics. I am aghast given the exposure and level of education of Mr. Fani-Kayode, that rather than traveling the high road in the face of provocative utterances made by ex-governor Kalu Orji when he boastfully claimed that 55% of Lagos was developed by the Igbos, instead elected to engage him by spewing bigoted vituperations from the rooftop and descending into the abyss of absurdity. To think that this was a minister I once admired for his “as a matter of fact” propensity and audacity to take on the big foreign airlines makes his offensive tirade all the more vexing. Thus, it behooves me to phantom what has motivated this two-time minister to take on permanent residence in the wilderness of bigotry and dine with the demons of hate. Such petty disposition and scourging diatribe are baffling and unbefitting of the caliber of a former respected federal minister whose constituency was the entire nation that included the Igbos. Such discourse, in the opinion of many, has consigned him to the unenviable corridors of political irrelevance and revealed his true opinion and hatred for the Igbos. This is indeed sad! For Mr. Fani-Kayode to make needless comparisons as to which ethnic group had the first law graduate and which had the first medical doctor is not only laughable, but amply depict his pedestrian level of mental and political maturity, casting him in the light of an ethnic jingoist. In his submission, Mr. Fani-Kayode attempted to boast of the educational superiority of his Yorubas ethnic group over the Igbos. I quote,

Unlike them we were never traders but we were (and still are) industrialists and when it comes to the professions we were producing lawyers, doctors, accountants and university graduates at least three generations before they ever did. That is the bitter truth and they have been trying to catch up with us ever since. For example the first Yoruba lawyer Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the English Bar in 1879 whilst the first Igbo lawyer, Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar in 1937. Again the first Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in 1875 from the University of Edinburgh whilst the first Igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish University in 1935.”

Be that as it may, the salient questions should be; has that educational superiority transformed Nigeria into a first world country with a GDP largest than those of the United States, Japan and China? Is Nigeria any more industrialized than Somalia or war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo? On account of that superiority, are we seeing foreign students from all walks of life flocking to Nigeria to learn from our professors in our well-funded and equipped world class universities? Due to the claimed educational superiority over the Igbos, has Nigeria become the undisputed hub for scholarship, jurisprudence, medical innovation, ingenuity and creativity? My friends, what is perturbing and equally disheartening is the fact that such pretentious pontifications are emanating from the so-called political elites that are supposed to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. With such narrow-minded ethnic purists at the helm of affairs, should we ponder any further as to why our nation is abundantly awash with corruption, bad leadership and assorted ethnic wars? Should we ponder any further why we continuously lack behind in most global indices while the likes of Singapore is surging economically and ahead of Nigeria in almost all spheres of human endeavor? While the likes of South Korea, a country which was once at par with Nigeria in the economic sense is making waves technologically and leaving giant footprints in the electronic and auto industries, Fani-Kayode, Orji Kalu and their co-travelers are vigorously fanning the ember of ethnic discord, chanting war songs rather than discussing ways to rescue the country from the looming tsunami. A recent review of South Korea’s GDP reveals the mess that is Nigeria as it (South Korea) ranks #15 in the world against Nigeria’s 39th. This information becomes relevant and puts into perspective our lot with bad leadership given the fact that Nigeria, not South Korea, is the world’s 8th largest oil producer. One of my mentors, a fellow political scientist, once noted during a paper presentation at an international conference, “That the worth of a nation is measured by its level of tolerance.” By this statement, the revered political scientist was referring to the ability of a nation to accommodate the interests of its minorities or the marginalized segments of the population. But if Fani-Kayode’s venomous discourse is anything to go by, Nigeria by this estimation is worthless given the height of intolerance blazingly exhibited by its political elite. We must admit and sadly so that Fani-Kayode’s holier than thou attitude and unilateral ascription of self-righteousness belie a deeper affliction on a nation whose progress has been amply retarded by the curse of ethnicity and religiosity culminating in the stagnation of a mass of people that should have long taken their place in the world. Nigeria appears to be the only country on earth that sheepishly adheres to the policy of “Federal Character”, placing ethnicity above competence and ability, resulting in abject ineptitude of ministers, permanent secretaries and even presidents. Due to political expediency, this process, to the detriment of our corporate existence, has produced the likes of Mr. Fani-Kayode, who today, has a platform to debase other nationalities. What is particularly disappointing about Fani-Kayode’s article is the fact that education and exposure have had no impact on his worldview and his relationship with other nationalities that share the Nigerian space. The purpose of education and why most people seek it years on end is to improve one’s lot and provide us the mental ability to challenge our own assumptions while engaging in self-evaluation. From the aforementioned, we do not need a soothsayer to advise us that there is something inherently wrong with our polity that requires far-reaching corrective measures and perhaps, a sober assessment of the Nigerian project to determine its sustainability and practicality in the face of current realities and agitations. In the grand scheme of things and at the end of the day, we must ask the cogent questions rather than basking in past glory that has taken us nowhere. Does it really matter who owns Lagos, does it really matter who owns Port-Harcourt, does it really matter who owns Abia; what should matter to every Nigerian is the need to develop those areas and build the much needed capacity, institutions and infrastructure that would enhance the ability of the country to be an economic force. With Mr. Fani-Kayode, Orji Kalu and their likes comfortably nesting in their primordial tribal mentality of yester years, we must not dream of attaining the sophistication and tolerance of the United States where an Austrian immigrant in the person of Arnold Schwarzenegger can become governor of one of the biggest states in the union, California; or a Canadian-born citizen, Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan; or an Illinois-born Ronald Reagan the governor of California? Will the Fani-Kayodes of Nigeria allow us to dream, my friends?

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=31768

Posted by on Aug 10 2013. Filed under Articles, Columnists, Femi Fani-Kayode, Headlines, NNP Columnists, P, South-East. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Fani-Kayode and the Igbos – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo”

  1. Dear Phil,

    The manner in which unguarded statements are being made across the length and breadth of Nigeria, insulting the sensibilities of other ethnic groups is definitely worrying.

    I know for a fact that the so called “deportation” of destitute did not start yesterday. If I remember correctly, on my visit home in 2009, such destitute were taken back to my own State of Osun from Lagos. And from all indication, it has been an on-going policy which all the states of the nation were fully aware of and participated in by identifying and receiving those they regard as their people.

    When Ohaneze goes to the extent of “excommunicating” the Igbos serving in Fasola’s cabinet because of the fall out of a policy which did not start yesterday, it really makes you wonder if we should continue to delude ourselves that this marriage will last.

    The questions one begin to ask are: Where Peter Obi and Orji Kalu asleep before and have now just woken up? Why are they making it look as if Lagos State’s policy is an anti-Igbo policy when it is not? Are they suffering from amnesia when the policy of one state out of a number of Yoruba states is made to look as a Yoruba policy against the Igbos? Why did Obi not take up his grievance officially or unofficially with his Lagos State counterpart Fasola?

    I must confess that the way and manner fingers are regularly poked in the eyes of the Yorubas especially by my Igbo brothers and sisters (and more often for no reasonable reasons) is breeding an unusual resentment.

    Sad as it may be, the fact is for as long as there is an army of Peter Obis and Orji Kalus who are ready to play the ethnic/tribal/race card in a perceived game of politics, rather than dealing with any issues they are aggrieved with through formal and informal channels, Nigeria will continue to have a horde of Fani-Kayodes ready and willing to guide their own perceived turfs.

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