Nigerians and human idolization

Responding to a post recently, a friend wrote:  “Mob effect and idolizing human being is for the unschooled! I choose to learn positive things at all times instead”. Here lies the solution to most of our problems.

Earlier today, there were reports that Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of INEC was pelted by unruly and wayward youths in Kazaure. Reacting to the report on several social networks, many otherwise educated and reasonable Nigerians hailed, commended and even encouraged the barbaric act of the youths and regarded it as a well deserved revenge for rigging the 2011 election in favor of President Goodluck Jonathan. Now these same people, back when Jega was appointed INCE chairman, jubilated because Jonathan appointed not only an honest academic, but (to many) a “northern Muslim” who will secure “their votes”.

While the act of the rampaging youth, who are probably uneducated and unschooled, is utterly condemnable and highly reprehensible, the response of the supposedly “educated” commentators is even more condemnable and clearly portrays a decaying society. Indeed a society can suffer no worse illness than the inability to differentiate what is right from wrong; the inability to say and stand for the truth no matter who is involved.

The truth is, in Nigeria, things are always about people and not issues. We say the truth when it suits us and are economical with it or simply lie when it doesn’t. Obsessed with individuals, we ignore the real issues-we actually don’t and can’t discern them. We celebrate mediocrity, injustice and provincialism and encourage corruption with incriminating solidarity. We are so sick that we believe certain individuals can do no wrong if they are from our part of the country or religion. We appropriate them some degree of infallibility that clearly portrays our hypocrisy. Take the case of the recent controversy over Buhari´s “dogs and baboons” speech. While many supporters of Buhari see nothing wrong in any possible unguarded statement he might have made, his detractors see nothing wrong in misquoting him and blowing the issue out of proportion, even when other equally relevant national figures might have made similar or worse comments. The two groups are partners in the great confusion of idolization of the Nigerian elite. When everything is analyzed, you realize it is always about the man, his religion or region and never about the real issues such as good governance, addressing corruption, insecurity and mediocrity. There are one thousand and one Nigerians far more honest and upright than Buhari in Katsina, Bayelsa, Edo, Adamawa etc just as there are corrupt leaders all over the country. It is our collective responsibility to insist on honest leadership through legitimate means without idolizing any individual even if elections are rigged.

The 2011 presidential election, despite its flaws, was reported to be the fairest in the history of Nigeria and for that Jega deserves our commendation. It shouldn’t matter if he was a pagan from Isiukwuato or a Muslim from Jega. Those who challenged it went to court and the election was upheld.

We shall continue to argue that, beyond eradicating poverty or unemployment, the real solution for the Nigerian state is education. People who are schooled are never affected by the mob effect and never idolize anyone. Why would they if they have self-esteem? They think and identify the truth and stand by it no matter what. They have integrity which leads to character and you get that through sound education based on principles.

Surely those who pelted him will be held accountable, if not here, in the hereafter, a place they claim to believe in.

May, 2012

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