Nigerians are ever predictable, so much so that if someone of average intelligence were to be paid a dollar for every correct prediction of the “Nigerian reaction” to a scandal, he would sit at the top of the Forbes Rich List. I kid you not.
The template is basic and goes thus:
Who is the offender and is the offender one of “ours”?
This is a very important aspect of the template and it determines how the rest of the thought process will go. You see, before the Nigerian takes a stance on any violation, crime or scandal, he needs to ascertain that the offender in the said event is not one of “ours”.
“Ours” here being one of my tribe, or one of my political affiliation, or one of my religious persuasion. Truth be told, I have encountered very, very few Nigerians who are capable of objective analysis devoid of the taints of tribe, politics and religion. Do not be baffled that these three scourges will torment us until the planet runs out of human life.
The Offender is One of Ours
If the offender is of the same ethnic extraction as me, quickly I adopt the Ibadan “alamala” politics stance – “omo wa ni, e je o se”. [He’s one of our kinsmen, let him be.] Regardless of how egregious the crime, you will be surprised at how many people still flock under the banner of tribal stupidity to justify it; ready to play the ethnic victimisation card as part of a “reverse psychology” tactic if need be. Pushed to the wall, this Nigerian would remind you that Nigeria is an artificial contraption created for the administrative convenience of the British Government.
If the offender has a broom stamped on his political ID card, believe me he could siphon ALL of the local government allocations for a state, impregnate 20 undergraduates, have an undischarged criminal conviction in some foreign jurisdiction, yet the benighted Nigerian who believes that the broom is holier than the umbrella will see no wrong in it. The same goes for the Nigerian who believes in the “umblerra”; you may produce every evidence of a criminal act against his overlord, yet he will tell you, with a conviction that stuns the mind, that there is nothing overly amiss; it is just the handiwork of their “political detractors”.
If you think the two above are comic enough, wait until what should be a religious scandal hits the news. There are three standard retorts here –
- An outright violent response – mosques burnt, churches burnt, babalawos beheaded… (maybe the last bit is hyperbolic, but you get the idea)
- “Touch not mine anointed”….
- A very lame “it’s the Devil at work, let’s pray against the Devil getting a foothold”.
If the issue is so scandalous, it usually starts with the last excuse, when that fails to work, the religious Nigerian then takes umbrage and tells you “touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm”. If there be a hint of “legitimacy” to the stance of the offender, it more or less results in a violent outburst.
The Offender is not one of ours, who is the victim?
No consideration would ever be given to the victim or the nature of the offence at all if the offender meets any of the criteria listed above. Having whittled out each criterion, consideration is then shifted to the victim or the nature of the offence. Here the analysis very quick. Using the same tribal, political and religious framework, is the victim someone like me? If yes – boom! The Facebook, Twitter and blogosphere vituperations pour in. Bear in mind, there will be other Nigerians lined up on the side of the offender using the same yardsticks.
I wrote this in light of the blog posted by a certain Ese Walter regarding her affair with her erstwhile pastor, and the comments it has since attracted. I have friends who are pastors, whom I respect for who they are – and they’ve had to earn it, not for some unseen halo over their heads and definitely not for their titles. Whether as a result of cultural conditioning or paucity of education, we have become a people largely disinclined to probe for accountability by those in positions of trust, be it religious or political. What I seek to examine here is not so much the veracity of the tale, but the paucity of objective response. Sorry, “touch not mine anointed” is not adequate.
One “elder statesman” after another makes utterly foolish pronouncements day in day out and we keep mute. A newly formed political party of current and ex-PDP malcontents issues a mindless 8 point “plan” not worthy of the paper on which is was printed and we simply trudge along behind them because the party leader is a septuagenarian Yoruba man, whom I must not “insult” because according to my Yoruba culture, he is “old enough to be my father” – till he leads me into the pit.
A sitting president, bereft of any scintilla of financial integrity, squanders my patrimony, yet I egg him on because as a bonafide Kalabari man, it is my turn to share in the national cake; never mind that I am still living in squalor in Joinkarama – the president is my Ijaw kinsman and his wife is my Okirika kinswoman.
And dear Ese, [no, I do not know her] is vilified for being a willing tool in the hands of the devil; never mind that the said “shepherd” ostensibly abused a position of trust, and we are urged, “touch not mine anointed”. A Nigerian pastor went to jail in the UK for sodomising members of his congregation (including the under-aged) and some mindless dimwit still said “touch not mine anointed”. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Similar to what the Catholics say about the Pope’s infallibility – Mr. Clergy-Man, you are anointed only when you act “ex-cathedra”. That toga falls off when you do not comply with your anointing. I still await the day when religious adherents will question objectively their leaders
But then, this is Nigeria, we simply wait for the next newsworthy “scandal”.