In my attempt to understand the poor ethics of Nigeria’s Zonal men I came across the gentleman philosopher called Thomas Hobbes. He was an English philosopher who wrote in the 17th century England about his society. In his account of human nature and society, he held that “humans are born into a state of nature where emotions are short, nasty and brutish.”
It is obvious that the zonal men in all Nigeria’s so-called geographical zones are taking us back to the jungle and Stone Age where “emotions are short, nasty and brutish”. Forget about the burnished images of our “comrade”, “militant” “mujahedeen” in suits and ties in hotel suites. All you only need to do is visualize the Ak47 across the shoulders of these MEND “comrades” and these Boko Haram “Mujahedeen”, and the village guns being transported by “Christian” “brothers” to come to this conclusion.
When someone wrote the other time that there is a difference between the “liberation struggle” of the MEND “comrades” and the “holy war” of the Boko Haram “Mujahedeen”, I chuckled. I asked the fellow to show me on the point of reason and rationality the difference between MEND’s and Boko Haram’s terrorism. The difference I thought I see is that one is a “comradely” use of terrorism, while the other is a “holy” deployment of terrorism. I asked if the lives of Nigerians and non-Nigerians that MEND terminated are different from those that Boko Haram decimated. Then he said, “you see the two terrorisms are different…and one is better than…” “Better terrorism” I sighed? Talk of paradox. Talk of the depreciation of discourse.
On that note it became obvious that in our zonal men’s re-enactment of Mr. Hobbes state of nature in Nigeria where “life is short, brutal, brutish and nasty”, language, truth and rational discourse are the first victims. In our zonal men’s ethics and politics, you see a poverty of language, discourse and a distortion of truth to burnish the terrorist image of the spokespersons of the so-called zone.
When challenged to reason rationally, Zonal men get angry. They appeal to the best and most elegant killing toy in town-the Ak47 as the tool of resolution of an issue. In them Mr. Hobbes state of nature comes alive.
Zonal men do not like the values of history and memory. Why? They appeal to “ME and SELF”. It is either me or nothing. Since the “self and me” is about today, history and memory are nullities. Hear them: “This is absolute rubbish, let each zone go and develop its zone, leave us alone with our cocoa, leave us alone with our oil, we too have groundnut, it is self determination or nothing, it is sovereign national conference or nothing, it is true federalism or nothing, western education is haram, Christians are Kaffir, Muslims are terrorists…let each zone decide whether political power benefit “indigenes” of their zone..” Ah!
Unfortunately, after the silly talks that drain from the mouths of zonal men, they then add the dubious clincher; “the North is lazy, all northerners are lazy, the north contributes nothing to the economy…leave our …alone go and cultivate your own resources too…”
It is only in a state of nature that people think only in terms of nature-crude oil and its crudity, cocoa, groundnut, palm oil, rubber etc. I disagree with those who think the zonal men are not making economic arguments when they think this way. They are making economic argument but one that is reminiscent of economic arguments you will hear and find in Mr. Hobbes state of nature.
The argument about each zone’s resources is not what you will find in an industrial age or a postindustrial age of international techno-finance. The question is: Does the labor that transforms these natural resources belong to the zone? What about the capital?
On hearing this atavistic thought of our zonal men, I become slightly upset because my parents’ memory comes alive in me. Such silly claims are inconsistent with the story my parents told me. They are inconsistent with the way I grew up in Nigeria. My father (of blessed memory) spoke Hausa, Edo, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulfulde, and Ebira. My parents taught me Nigeria, and not these silly things called zones or ethnicity. We lived in every part of Nigeria with great fondness. And I thought that I would be able to do same for my children. In preparation for that great moment I teach my children Nigerian identity and not zonal identity.
But when I see the Ak47 slung around the shoulders of MEND “comrades” and Boko Haram “Mujahedeen” and the Christian “brothers” knives and village guns and everyone’s readiness to defend some silly thing called zone and use terrorism to extract more money from Abuja, it seems to me that that day will never come when I will be able to do for my children what my parents did for me. It is not cool at all.
Sadly, each time I read what drain from the mouths of Nigerian zonal men, I see that they are killing the love story of Nigeria my parents told me and which they acted on.
Adeolu Ademoyo, email@example.com, is of the Africana Studies Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.