Whenever some critics lampoon the government or politicians of being sentimental or bias in their decisions or policies, I laugh. My laughter is not premised on mockery, but it is drawn out of the fact that the human nature is basically sentimental. A good instance is the present appointments made into strategic offices and positions by the government of President Mohammadu Buhari led administration. No doubt, the administration has been northernized, and this has led to the public outcries and criticisms against the administration from southern Nigerians.
Recall that after the first military coup de’tat led by an Easterner, Major Kaduna Nzeagu, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, also an Easterner, became the beneficiary of the coup, even without participating in it. Report has it that by this time, the Easterners occupied strategic offices in the country’s government, hence one of their own leading a coup cannot be justified. Also, the sluggish inaction of Aguiyi Ironsi as the head of state to summarily prosecute the ‘coupists’ drew bad blood from the northerners who lost many of their top politicians in the coup. And this was said to have motivated the counter-coup six months into the regime of Ironsi, which led to his being murdered and Yakubu Gowon, a northerner was installed by those who planned and executed the counter-coup.
The Yakubu Gowon’s regime laid the foundation of government sentimental appointments into major governmental positions and offices. And this trend has continued until the birth of the fourth republican Nigerian. A closer look at the appointments done by state governors have followed same trend; with the state governors reserving major appointments for those from their local government areas and communities. Unfortunately, almost all the present governors in Nigeria are guilty of this crime.
Fast forward to the religious circle, a pastor friend of mine once told me in confidence that the owner or General Overseer of his church who hails from the Western part of the country tends to give favourable posting to pastors from his tribe. A situation where only those from his tribe are posted to the church branches in the cities while pastors of other tribes are posted to remote villages and crisis ridden areas. When he confronted the church authorities with the skewed posting, he was asked to accept his postings to villages as the desire of God for him. Unable to stomach this gross act of injustice and sentiment in the supposed house God, he was forced to tender his resignation letter and ditch the pastoral work. He pointed out to me that his last two postings were terrible, as both postings were within the circumference of the Boko Haram ravaged communities which placed his life and that of his family on the line. He noted that in as much as he was tempted to accept the postings as God’s desire for him, but the glaring trend of sentimentalism dished out as God’s desire for him was too much for him to accept.
Take a closer look at all the major establishments in Nigeria, you will discover that majority of those who are in charge of the decision making of the establishments are of the same tribe with the owner of the establishment. In this case, merit and competence are relegated. Yet, these same persons are always at the forefront of those accusing the government of being sentimental and tribalistic. A founder of a church who relegates pastors from other tribes to the villages while those from his tribe are posted to the cities and towns has no moral right to speak against tribalism and sentimentalism of the government. A governor who turns the state government house to the assemblage of his kinsmen has no moral right to accuse the government at the centre of committing same crime it is guilty of. A man who relegates merit to populate his company with those from his community cannot stand tall and criticize the government of being tribalistic. A man in government office who gives more employment opportunities to those from his tribe and community cannot be said to be detribalized. This goes to show that almost all of us in Nigeria are guilty of the sin of sentimentalism.
By Azowue O. Emmanuel