By Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo
Our beloved VANGUARD Newspapers has an Igbo man as Editorial Board Chairman. He is Mr. Nnanna Ochereome, a celebrated journalist and column writer who recently ruffled Yoruba feathers. I understand he was said to have referred to Yorubas as “sophisticated morons” who allow themselves to be taken for a ride. This was in reference to GMB’s political maneouvre of “honours” for MKO Abiola and his declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day.
Editorial Board Chairman did so in what he thought was a private moment. He thought he was simply Nnanna Ochereome, a private person enjoying private moments on one of the many social media platforms of the day. He forgot that like gold fish, all public figures, writers in particular as well as politicians and men and women in showbiz, don’t have the luxury of any private moment.
In fact public figure or not, once one communicates a view in public it is no more a private matter for him to define how it is viewed. One Sarah Olabimtan, a Yoruba lass by the sound of her “Ola” name, in an emotive piece argued that Nnanna was quite right to call Yorubas morons. Her riposte claims, that Nnanna is known for anti-Yoruba sentiments despite living for the most part of his productive life in Yoruba land, in Lagos.
“Sophisticated MORONS! That was how Mr Nnanna Ochereome, the Chairman of the Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspapers, described the Yorubas for being ecstatic over the recognition of (the) MKO Abiola as (the) winner of June 12,1993 Presidential polls.
“He fired the missile in a private chat on the social media. It wasn’t an editorial opinion or in his weekly column..
“Nnanna, known for his anti-Yoruba sentiments, was reacting to a caustic attack on the Yorubas by Sunday Areh who is an Aide to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta. But methinks Nnanna Ocherome is right”.
I have no beef with Editorial Board Chair Nnanna and his views. Neither do I have any with Olabimtan Sarah’s. What is more, being a professional, Nnanna is said to have apologised to the Yoruba to calm the frayed nerves of his hosts. One Paramount Traditional Ruler threatened he’d order all of Nnanna’s tribesmen drowned in the seas of the Lagos coastal waters if they had in 2015 dared vote anyone other than the chosen party (APC) candidate of their hosts. And the Lagos Paramount Ruler, Oba Rilwan Akiolu is firstly a Muslim. He was also a former top cop who’d retired as an Assistant Inspector-General.
Kabiyesi ignored his glorious nationalist call as a top cop, sinking to the abyss of such unexpected ethnic jingoism from one so favoured by the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a Muslim he also went directly against the basics of his religion. Islam forbids racism in the strongest of terms. It enjoins fairness as the fundamental maxim for leadership.
God in His own words in a Hadith (a saying of the Holy Prophet of Islam) had over 1,400 years ago stated that He detests injustice and orders all Muslims not to treat other beings unjustly. It is further reported that over 200 years ago, the head of Muslims around here, Amirul Mumineen (Sarkin Musulumi) Muhammad Bello had said that Leadership succeeds only with justice and fairness even if the leader were a non-Muslim and that it fails once it is based on injustice, even if the leader were to be a Muslim.
Yet, Yorubas, an overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims, who are hosts of Editorial Board Chairman Nnanna of the Christian faith in Lagos have been firing at him from both barrels ignoring history. He was skewered, good, like suya (“tsire”, the correct name for suya in Hausa) on the social media. You’d say, he called it up, on himself. But then with the little history we have and the fact of what we see on ground today in the Nigerian equation, are Yorubas morons? It is obvious they sure aren’t morons. If anything what such comments as Olabimtan’s work to is to, ‘Oliver Twist’ us the more, to exact much more than a fair share of what Nigeria has on offer for the Yoruba tribes.
Af course, talking about morons, Igbos too are not by any stretch of the imagination. Even in the Lagos State House of Assembly as well as the House of Representatives they have elected representatives. In the same vein are Christians morons, looking at the definition of morons Nnanna put forth? In a Nigeria where majority of the populace are decisively Muslims, the Christian community cannot be referred to as morons either. Particularly up north, where the Muslim-Christian ratio, even with all animists factored in, in percentage terms is surely in the region of 75% to 80%.
Despite all the tilting towards Christians in all that government does, despite the fact that Christians have led Nigeria for many more years than Muslims, the Muslim community is daily bombarded with claims of a so-called Islamisation agenda. For the satisfaction of a rabid anti-Muslim lobby, the CBN was forced by Christian-led governments of Obasanjo and Jonathan to illegally and unilaterally remove Arabic inscriptions on the national currency. Those who can’t read the English script are thus left unfended for. English, for the record, only crept in to the area now known as Nigeria hundreds of years after Arabic which was the earliest means of written communication here.
To benefit maximally from the Nigerian nation, Yorubas and the South generally manipulate the discrimination cry, with such opportunities as provided by Chairman Nnanna with his “Yoruba morons” charge. All the while, it is obvious the real morons are my people, Muslims and Hausa-Fulani Northerners. After all it is Hausas and Northerners who are short-changed even today in a government they made. It is Hausas and the North who are left to fend for themselves with government focusing on the South, the Yoruba South in particular. The Yorubas and Southerners generally have clearly cornered more than 80% of all resources and choice appointments so far by the Northerner Buhari APC Government these past three years.
That is why, in my view if anyone qualifies as a fool, the fool that keeps the Nigerian union, it is the Hausa-Fulani Northerner. It is vital that other partners in the Nigeria Project also learn how to be morons and fools of the type that my people are, so that the union waxes on. If we all want to have it wax on at all.