Home » State of Mind » The need to be tactful and diplomatic in talking about Nigeria’s ethnic groups

The need to be tactful and diplomatic in talking about Nigeria’s ethnic groups


Nigeria is composed of many ethnic groups, the major ones are Hausas, Fulani’s, Kanuris, Yorubas, Igbos, Edos, Ijaws, Urobos, Idomas, Efiks, and Tivis. Each of these ethnic groups can be a state, a country in its own right. Each has its own culture and world view that is distinct from others. Members of each of these groups see themselves as different from people from other groups.

In Europe Germans, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Russians, Polish and so on each see themselves as different from other groups. They protect their ethnic identify and interests and jostle with other ethnic groups for their self and mutual interests.

Aware that each group is different the nations of Europe evolved what is called diplomacy. That means that in relating to members of other ethnic groups you exercise the utmost tactfulness. You are talking to people who see you as not one of them; therefore, you must at all times show them that you respect them and not say anything that they perceive as insulting or denigrating.

If members of an ethnic group perceive outsiders to have degraded them their ethnic pride feels affronted and assaulted. They experience a desire to assuage the insult coming their way.

Most international conflicts and wars were caused by perceived affronts to a group’s sense of prestige. To avert conflicts, nations behave tactfully to other nations. If you want to avoid going to war and having your people unnecessarily massacred by others you exercise caution in how you talk about other groups.

Your personal and group’s survival depends on how other people perceive you. You are not invincible and if you rob other people the wrong way they can decide to snuff your life out.

History and experience teaches us that any human being who so desires it can kill another and any group that so wishes it can attack and kill members of other ethnic groups.

Adolf Hitler and His Nazis killed six million Jews and twenty five million Russians and no God stopped them. Get those figures into your head. The Germans killed over fifty million human beings between 1939 and 1945 and no higher force, no God stopped them. Only other human beings, mostly the Russians stopped them.

The point is that human beings are not invincible and if they so choose they can kill you and no one can stop them. If this is the case you exercise caution in relating to other people, especially if they are from outside groups. This fact is known to most adults so I did not really say anything new.

The novice in international politics, Barack Obama earlier this year, to insult Vladimir Putin, said that Russia is not a world power, is a regional power. A price would be paid for this put down. Putin took the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and left Obama and the West making bleeping noises and enacting economic sanctions that hurt the West more than it hurts Russia. You do not insult a great power that has the nuclear capacity to wipe out the entire USA in thirty minutes.

(The last foreign group that conquered and ruled Russia was the Mongols from 1240 AD to two centuries later when the Prince of Muscovy pushed them out. Since then other groups have tried, including Napoleon and Hitler and failed. If America tries it, too, would fail; mother Russia always prevail over all foreign invaders.)

What applies to the great powers apply to African ethnic groups; if you insult an ethnic group you would pay a price. Igbos insulted Hausas and paid the price of been massacred in the 1960s. Apparently, they have not learned the lesson of respect for all ethnic groups that they are supposed to learn and currently still insult Hausas and Yorubas.

Facts notwithstanding, Igbos behave as if they are invincible, as if what applies to other people does not apply to them. They feel free to insult other Nigerians and politicians from other Ethnic groups. They do not exercise tact and diplomacy in dealing with other Nigerians.

A case in point is General Buhari. He is a Fulani. He is not an Igbo. Since he emerged as the flag bearer of the All Progress Congress, APC, many Igbos have declared war on him, calling him all sorts of derogatory names. They have become experts on his character and life’s achievement. They feel free to talk about his supposed deficits and whatever wrong he has done in his life.

In the meantime, they are silent on the fact that their man, Goodluck Jonathan has been in office for six years and has achieved zilch for Nigeria; if anything Jonathan has supervised the most massive looting of Nigeria.

Prudence would require Igbos to say nothing unkind about Buhari, for given his fellowship in a different ethnic group if you insult him you are really insulting all members of his ethnic group. They could feel angry at you.

(Recently, North Koreans insulted the American president, Barack Obama by calling him a monkey. Hang around as North Korea is made to pay a severe price for that undiplomatic utterance. Many white racists may loath Obama but when you insult the symbol of America’s power you have insulted them and you have it coming your way. There is always retribution for injuring a nation’s pride.)

Since Igbos live in the North they make for targets of opportunity; Hausas and Fulani’s can choose to kill them any day and there is nothing Igbos can do to stop it. That is true; if Hausas want to they can today kill millions of Igbos and there is nothing Igbos can do about it.

Surviving Igbos would carry their loads on their sorry heads and run to their homeland, the East. They will probably ask the International community to intervene and they would not do so.

These days most people know Igbos as the kingpins of Nigeria’s 419 scams, as credit bank scammers, bank loans scammers and doers of other evil deeds.

In a word, Igbos are universally perceived as amoral and criminals. Since they have made no contribution to the world of science and technology hence are not relevant to the world’s survival if their fellow Nigerians killed them the rest of the world would look away.

What else is new? Africans are either enslaving their people or killing them so why should the rest of the world lose sleep over the killing of members of an African ethnic group. The Hutus killed almost a million Tutsis and the UN did nothing! As we talk some African groups are slaughtering others in the Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo Democratic Republic, and Uganda and so on. The world does not lose sleep from these Africans mayhems (if white folks were involved the world would be concerned).

Oh, the United Nations General Assembly may pass a resolution condemning the killing of Igbos by other Nigerians but the Security Council will not do anything about it.

Folks like Collin Powell and Barack Obama perceive Nigerians as crooks so why should they go to war and have their young people killed to protect thieves? Sentimentality is not realism.

If Jews are killed by Arabs, of course, America would go to war to protect the Jews. Why? Take a look at Nobel Prize winners in the sciences and learn the answer: it is mostly Jews who have put America’s academia on the world map of intellectual achievement. Jews fled from Europe during the second world and came to America’s universities and transformed them into world class universities; before the second world war to go to an American university was pretty much like going to today’s Nigerian university, third rate university! You defend the source of your strength. Igbos are not a source of strength to any one, not even to their selves!

The point is that Igbos would be killed and no one would come to their rescue. This is the reality facing them.

If so they ought to do what other human beings do, become diplomatic and tactful in relating to members of other Nigerian ethnic groups.

But, instead, like the eternal fools they seem to be they talk about other Nigerians as if they are almighty God himself and no one can harm them.

They are seen as irrelevant in Nigerian politics and that negative perception of them does not penetrate their delusion disorder; they keep masquerading around as very powerful and important persons.

During the Biafra war, other Nigerians mowed Igbos down and starved their children to death. That exposure to the reality of Nigerians power does not seem to faze them and they continue talking as if they have the power to do to other Nigerians whatever they want.

Igbos do not seem to live in the world of reality; they seem to live in the world of fantasy where their wishes for power is reality; they engage in magical thinking where wishes are taken as reality. They are a powerless people deluding their selves into believing that they are a powerful people! They fancy themselves important.

Important to who, if one may ask? Important to those who see you as idiots? Powerful in regard to what you did that proved your power? These people have zero power. All they are known for is boasting about their phantom power, hence they are called: Ndi Nbaonu, people of the boastful mouth.

These people are nothing but behave as if they are God himself; this is problematical. They have to learn to be tactful and diplomatic for their own good, and for their survival.

If I were Igbos, I would simply keep quiet and not say anything negative about Buhari. For the first time in their sordid lives they ought to resist that neurotic desire they have to put folks down so as to pretend to be superior to them. They ought to heal their neurosis (delusion disorder) and quit pretending to be superior to other Nigerians. They can show their healed mental status by not rubbishing other Nigerians, especially Buhari’s names.

Nigeria is entering the campaigning session come January 2015. What folks say may mean life or death for them and their people. Poor bastards would be killed because some idiot Igbos hiding out in the white man’s land feel safe to insult Nigerians. And when their people are killed they ignore the role they played in their death and blame other Nigerians. It is always other people’s faults; nothing is ever their faults. In their deluded minds they are always innocent and perfect whereas other persons are flawed.

I have alerted folks to the need to not say anything that would inflame the political situation in Nigeria. On this note I exit and go pay attention to what I consider important in my life; certainly, Nigerian politics is not important to me.

Addendum 1

When I came to Nigerian Internet forums, almost a decade ago, what struck me was how naïve and idiotic the Igbo participants were. None of them appeared to have any clue what politics is all about. They talked like they were born idiots.

Listen up: Politics is war. Politics is war by nonviolent means. Politics is cold war. In politics groups align and fight each other peacefully. When that cold war no longer suffices the war becomes hot war, shooting out war.

A small misstep in political calculations and the human polity descends into hot war. In hot war folks are killed.

If there is hot war in Nigeria today it is Igbos who would suffer the most. Why? Like fools they trooped to the North (been killed in the North, as they claimed was done to them in the 1960s, apparently, did not deter them from going to where they were killed). They troop to the West.

I bet you that more Igbos live outside Alaigbo than live in Alaigbo. Igbos flee from their godforsaken land to go live with other Nigerian ethnic groups even though few non-Igbos come to live with Igbos!

This means that if there is hot war in Nigeria many Igbos would be killed in non-Igbo parts of Nigeria.

How many non-Igbos live in Igbo land? Very few. So even if Igbos killed those non Igbos living in Igbo land they would not break even.

Now, why am I saying all these? I am saying this for if you have eyes to see you would see that it is mostly Igbos who are cursing out Buhari. Just read the materials posted on this forum and you would see that Igbos, fools as ever, have made it their god damned business to curse out Buhari.

Why are they doing so? Don’t they know that the political big wigs in Nigeria read the stuff folks post here? Yes, Hausas keep an eye on what is posted here. They know who is abusing them here. They know who when push comes to shove they would be angry at, and who they would slaughter.

As an aside, since Igbos appear to be born fools killing them actually does not matter for killing fools do not matter.

Here is the deal. The PDP has been rigging elections in the past. No PDP government came to office with clean hands. In office they have looted Nigeria dry. We all know this fact.

Therefore, men of goodwill are looking for a way out. Buhari appears the only way out. Jonathan is literally a dullard; I do not believe that he has any kind of intelligence in his thick skull. I do not even think that he knows what is going on around him. With him occupying Aso Rock the looters are in haven; they can loot to their hearts content. No one is about to stop them.

The reportedly almost always drunk Jonathan cannot stay sober long enough to bother with corruption in Nigeria. Even if he is sober he does not have the mental capacity to ask legitimate questions and certainly cannot do anything to improve Nigeria.

In this climate men of goodwill who are looking for clean government in Nigeria aligned with the only bright spot in the Nigerian political firmament, Buhari. Of course he is not the best candidate but given what is available no one is better than he.

But what do Igbos do? They abuse the man.

And unbeknown to them the man is going to win, not only win but win by a landslide. How do I know so? Ask me come February 14, 2015.

I am supposing that some Nigerians understand how to conduct polls, opinion surveys? If so they ought to conduct such surveys for the presidential election. I bet you that they would find that over two thirds of Nigerians want Jonathan out.

Only in the Southeast is Jonathan supported? And this is curious since for the life of me I cannot point to what he did for Igbos (may be what he did for them is to allow their idiot sister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to help him squander Nigeria’s money…that fat cow ought to be hung upside down, as Italians hung Mussolini and his mistress).

If the PDP rigs the election for Jonathan, again, Nigeria would descend into an inferno that even God himself cannot douse the fire.

This election simply should not be rigged; if rigged the PDP would not get away with it this time, mark my word.

If the election is not rigged the APC’s Buhari would win. If that is the case why don’t freaking Igbo fools simply keep quiet and stop abusing the man?

Having abused him and he wins would they understand it if he ignores development in the East (I do not think that he would do so for he is a godly man, a decent man).

If I may give the Igbo born idiots on these forum one gratuitous advice it is that they should keep their goddamned idiot mouths shut. They ought to simply shut the fuck up and for once in their idiot existence say nothing. Whenever they open their mouths they make life difficult for their idiot selves.

I can see Igbo know nothing clowns say that I sing the praises of Buhari because I am angling for handouts from his putative administration. No, I am not seeking anything from the man. If what I wanted was position in Nigeria I would by now be part of the Nigerian ruling class. I chose to live in the west to do some philosophical thinking; my goal is to provide Africans, indeed, mankind with a new world view. I also know that philosophers’ philosophies are seldom embraced in their lifetimes. I have quietly written philosophies that I know would prevail in the future world. This accomplishment is more important to me than been given a stupid political job in Nigeria.

I support Buhari for one simple reason: of all the persons competing for the position of President of Nigeria he is the best qualified man for the position.

Regarding education you do not need more than secondary school education to do anything in politics; Buhari went to secondary school and military academies; military academies are equivalent to university education.

Winston Churchill had only school cert from Harrow (secondary school) and training at Sandhurst; now, look at what he did for his country.

Jonathan with so-called university education from a provincial university at Port Harcourt is as educated as a clod.

Finally, since folks must comment on their leaders and potential leaders, why don’t those Igbos who feel an inner obsessive-compulsive pressure to say something nasty about Buhari bite their tongues and keep quiet and if they must say something try very hard to say something nice about the man. It would not take a lot of doing to say positive things about the man since he has many fine qualities, including honesty, integrity, and incorruptibility and caring for the weak and poor.

Yes in the past, the man appeared to have made an offensive statement about Sharia been good for all Nigerians (which the Christians obviously do not like); I believe that he has learned his lesson and now understand that there must be freedom of religion in Nigeria or there is no Nigeria.

Folks should not play on Christians’ fear of sharia and say that Buhari’s election means converting Nigerians to Islam; that is not going to happen and is not part of the man’s agenda. And you must give some of us credit and ability to discern a guy’s agenda. The man simply wants to bring about clean governance in Nigeria. Given the mess Jonathan’s Nigeria is in, is that too much to ask for? Give the man a chance, will you?

Addendum 2

Thank you, Dr. Justin Odulana. I appreciate your interest in having me write in polished language. I strive to do so when the occasion calls for it. However, you must know that even the best writer writes in language that he believes suites the audience he is addressing.

I am supposing that you have read our beloved bard, William Shakespeare. In his writings you find the best English verse, even prose; who can read Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice and King Lear etc. without marveling in awe at the man’s command of the English language, not to talk about the knowledge of contemporary philosophy he conveyed in those great tragedies (Hamlet, for example, essentially summarized the philosophies of Rene Descartes, Spinoza and Leibnitz which the bard, no doubt, read and placed in the mouth of the intellectual characters in the play). Yet the same Shakespeare when he was addressing the baser aspect of human nature did not hesitate in writing what in his time was street language; consider Othello and its earthy language.

The point is that writing is done in language the writer believes is appropriate for the situation. I watch as Igbo clowns on this forum address General Mohammadu Buhari in foul language. I ask why they do so. They harp on the fact that he came to office from a coup d’état.

Strictly speaking George Washington and the American founding fathers removed the British government in British North America illegally, through violence, not through the ballot box. Sometimes undemocratic measures are employed in pursuit of good governance.

You cannot always judge a man by his one mistake in the past. If it was a mistake to overthrow the Shagari government hasn’t Buhari shown the people what mettle he is made of? Why would folks deliberately harp on his one dark spot?

You ought to judge a man from the totality of his works, not just from the one mistake he made. The man is running for office through the ballot box, is he not? That means that he has embraced the democratic process as the legitimate way of becoming a ruler of the people.

Those who therefore harp on his past one mistake are disingenuous, they write as if all there is to him is his one mistake.

In regard to Buhari’s education, have you noticed that this same crowd is talking nonsense about his level of education? The Nigerian constitution rightly requires only secondary school level of education for running for public office in Nigeria.

Buhari went to a government secondary school. Not every kid could get into those schools. He must have been one of the best and brightest of his generation.

Buhari attended top military academies. Those are equivalent to universities. The man is therefore well educated and his detractors know it.

Buhari is a man of action and is not given to verbosity. He does not talk too much. He is a quiet man and does not waste his time talking in flowery language that would make him seem a good orator. But since when is excellent oratory a recipe for good governance?

Goodluck Jonathan can hardly be said to be a good orator. Nnamdi Azikiwe, I am told was a good orator but few would consider him a good governor. I do not see what he did for his people when he was the premier of Eastern Nigeria and certainly do not see what he did for Nigeria as a whole.

We all know what Obafemi Awolowo did, beginning with providing his people with free elementary education. If Awolowo had won the post-independence election in the 1960s and became prime minister I am sure that given his antecedents he would have placed Nigeria on a development trajectory.

The point is that good leaders are not always characterized by outstanding oratorical skills. If Buhari is not as good orator, so be it. What matters is that he has a well-articulated vision of what he wants to accomplish for Nigeria.

He wants to give Nigerians clean government and, hopefully, set us on a path to economic development. In the end, since the man is the only clean spot in today’s Nigerian political landscape we ought to give him a chance.

Give change a chance. Another four years of Jonathan and his PDP means another four years wasted on graft.

Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing, over and over, again and expecting different results. We know what the result of PDP rule is; it would be insane to continue with PDP’s rule and expect different result, good governance.

You may wonder why I am very harsh on Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Here is why. Every month her ministry cuts checks for governors and federal politicians to come pickup. If she is an excellent money manager (I know a thing or two about running public bureaucracies since I have been the director of some of them in the USA) she would write a clause into the memorandum transmitting the checks to the governors. One simple sentence that goes like this: �in accepting this money you agree to Federal auditors to audit how your government spent the people’s money” would go a long way in checking corruption. How?

She would then hire a bunch of accountants/auditors and have them go and periodically monitor how the moneys the governors were given were spent. If they were not spent and accounted for in �Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” her ministry’s attorneys would then haul such governors to its internal court (administrative court) and have them answer for how they spent the people’s moneys.

Instead of doing what those of us who understand administration do, this woman hands the peoples moneys to the governors fully aware that such moneys are misspent and that does not bother her. She is thus part of the problem of corruption in Nigeria, not its solution.

I end by thanking you for insisting that we write in polished language. I hope that this piece meets your approval.

Ozodi Osuji Ph.D
[email protected]
(907) 538-1086

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