FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeTuesday, December 10, 2013
eoeke@aol.com


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THE DANGERS OF PROPAGATING THE POISON OF ETHNIC PREJUDICE, IN THE NAME OF FREE SPEECH

Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

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“First, words are tools, and as a minimum, we should use clean tools: we should know what we mean and what we do not, and we must forearm ourselves against the traps that language sets us. --J. L. Austin, from the philosophy of action.

ew months ago, one Femi, Fani-Kayode unleashed a poisonous ethnic diatribe against Igbos to stroke up anti-Igbo sentiments in Lagos and other parts of Yoruba land, and precipitate ethnic conflict between Igbos and Yorubas, who have lived peaceful within a boundary of healthy rivalry. At first, I thought it was an attempt by a politician out of work, to find his way back by giving the impression that he care about his people, but I was wrong. It was a deliberate choice to use toxic ethnic nationalism to achieve a political objective. In a very dishonest, hate infested and disingenuous article, Femi Fani-Kayode sort to convince his ethnic group that Igbos are a threat to their survival as a nation, and the claimed that Igbos claim to own Lagos. He made other outrageous, irresponsible and outlandish assertions about his libido, which made me, wonder what he was smoking, when he wrote the article. He was later made to eat the humble pie by retracting his false assertions. In spite of that, he has not reflected on his mission to sow the seed of ethnic conflict between Igbos and Yorubas. He continues to dish out our diatribes against Igbos for no justifiable reasons, apart from xenophobia, for that is what his irrational and unreasonable fear and hatred of Igbos suggests.

Most people have dismissed Mr Femi-Fani Kayode as a mischief maker, who is misguided. I do not think so. The facts would suggest that, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode should be taken very seriously, and what he says thoroughly scrutinised. He is not a confused man. He is a very educated man, who understands the value of ideas, written words and how gullible the masses can be. He has been a Minister in Nigeria and he was known to be very prejudiced and discriminatory against Igbos in his ministry. He is acting out a script, which is not unrelated to the views of some Yoruba elites that Nigeria is not viable in its present form because of its structural problems. Mr Femi Fani-Kayode is not acting alone. He is an attack dog for a sinister group, whose aim is to balkanise Nigeria into ethnic nations with further degree of autonomy, while still exploiting the oil from Nigeria delta region. He is an agent of a vision of Nigeria rooted in sectarian constructs and he is dangerous and his views poisonous. What he is doing is laying the foundation for the ethnic cleansing of ‘Igbos’(non-Yorubas) from Lagos and other towns in west Nigeria and the justification for treating their properties as abandoned property, when they achieve their autonomous ethnic nation, through the sovereign national conference, in a loose federation of Nigerian of independent nations. He is an agent provocateur and should not be ignored.

The actions and utterances of the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode give me very serious concern, because it is exactly the way and manner Hitler started against the Jews and the Hutus against the Tutsis. That was how the foundation of the massacre of Igbos in north Nigeria in 1966 was laid by the likes of Sadauna of Sokoto, who, like Femi-Fani Kayode, singled out Igbos for vilification and prejudiced comments years before the 1966 coup. Those with right sense of history will remember that this is true and those who do not know should search the internet for the views of Ahmadu Bello on Igbos. Anybody who doubts this should get Hitler’s memoire, Mein Kamf, one of the most notorious polemics of all times, and read it, to see from whose hymn book, Femi Fani-Kayode and his likes are singing from.

Femi Fani-Kayode is simply a Yoruba supremacist, who is weaving dangerous diatribes to establish Igbos as arch enemies of the Yorubas, in other to justify what he and his group plan to do to Igbos in Yoruba land; when they achieve their ethnic nationhood. He cannot stand it that a people can migrate to another place and be at home and successful. This is murderous envy at its worst. History is repeating itself before our eyes and we fail to see it, and show no sign that we recognise that Femi Fani-Kayode is playing with fire in a house where there is petrol. Fortunately, the views and attitude of Femi Fani-Kayode, and his group do not currently seem to represent the majority mainstream opinion and attitude in Yoruba land towards Igbos. But that was exactly what it was like, when Hitler started. We know what happens when conflict starts. We know how it played out in Germany, Rwanda and north Nigeria. What does anybody think will happen to Igbos in Lagos, if Femi Fani-Kayode or another Yoruba man who shares his ideology of hate becomes the governor of Lagos tomorrow, or if he secures his Oduduwa Republic with such attitude towards people of other ethnic groups? We need to take him very serious, his beliefs are poisonous. In developed countries, such people are isolated and excluded from mainstream politics and consigned to the fringes of democratic societies where they belong. No party would touch them because they are divisive figures.

The problem with People like Femi Fani-Kayode, Hitler etc., is that they are first and last, ethnic champions consumed by toxic ethnic nationalism, prejudice and overvalued ideas about who they are. They have no sense of justice as fairness, equality of human beings, tolerance and love, as it should be extended to those who are different from them. This is what makes them very dangerous to any society. Anything they do to victims of their prejudice, even if it involves, killing innocent women and children and gross injustices, as long as the victims are not members of their own ethnic group, religion or share any biological bound with their ethnic group , is right and justified. Femi Fani-Kayode shows the features we see in the worst of men. The have a very narrowly defined boundary of their love and goodness. They are selfish, self-centred and self-obsessed. They type of people my daughter describes as I, me and myself.

I think Femi Fani-Kayode should be condemned and stopped from further poisoning ethnic harmony in Nigeria. His utterances, writings and conduct are the true foundation of all genocides. If tomorrow, there is an uprising in Lagos against Igbos, no one should be in doubt who laid the foundation for it. He is a man who has no qualms about putting a knife to the things that hold Nigeria together as a nation. After all, people with his mind-set do not think that Nigeria is a nation, yet they benefit most from its resources. When other multi ethnic nations in the world are recognising the dangers of toxic ethnic nationalism and working hard to eliminate ethnic bigotry, discriminations and stereotype from their polity, Femi Fani-Kayode and his likes, are busy fanning the flame of toxic ethnic nationalism in Nigeria. It is simply sad.

People like Femi Fani-Kayode should be told in no uncertain terms, that their views, attitude and philosophy of life, have no place in the new Nigeria we are trying to build. His views perpetuate ethnic and religious stereotypes and sustain distrust and prejudice, against a people because of who they are. His’, is a primitive attempt to tell Igbos, that his ethnic group is better or superior to them. This is primordial thinking and a sign of serious personality defect.

If Nigerians are serious about building a viable democratic and united nation, based on equality, tolerance and civil vales, it must take the incitement of ethnic hatred very seriously and pressure the government to enact appropriate legislation against it, as many developed nations have done. This immature, irresponsible, dangerous and ignorant behaviour should now come to an end. Inciting hatred against other people on the basis of their ethnicity or religion or denigrating them, do not make them become what the perpetrators say about them, it shows how the perpetrators think and the state of their evolutionary development.

If this is a political strategy, to put a wedge between Yorubas and Igbos, so that Tinubu can align with Buhari to wrestle power form Jonathan, then he should be advised to reconsider his tactics because, all he may achieve is a pyrrhic victory. No good can come out of it. As C. S. Lewis said, “Wickedness is the pursuit of some good in the wrong way”.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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