The Nigerian and his fascination with inappropriate behaviour and lawlessness

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“Indecent dressing fuels rape.  It does big time. Those who deny this are rank hypocrites.”

Those words caught my attention on an article l came across and they made me laugh. I will tell you why, later.

Some time ago, a video of a group of Yoruba people, lamenting that the Igbos were buying up virtually every part of the mechanic village, in Lagos, surfaced on social media.

It is not just a Lagos thing. In other parts of the country, people are angry that the Igbos are buying up virtually every part of the state. They argue that the Igbos do not allow people from other tribes, enjoy such privileges in their own Igbo states. So why are they doing to others what they don’t allow in their place?

Besides land and property, indigenes are quick to remind non-indigenes that they do not belong to that state. Therefore, they are not entitled to certain privileges that the indigenes enjoy.

After my service year, l had gone along with a friend of mine, to ask if it was possible to be retained in the institution where we had served.

One of the heads wasted no time in telling us that if we were indigenes of the state or married to indigenes, a job would have been created for us. He asked us point-blank, to get married to indigenes and thereafter, put in an application for a job. It did not matter that my friend and l had served that institution well. Our ability to get a job in that place was dependent on our ability to hook some indigene for marriage. Not on our track records. Why? We are non-indigenes.

I vividly remember that one of the reasons for the first two crisis in the city of Jos, was political power. Indigenes were angry at the audacity of the Hausa who were non-indigenes, to claim leadership of a prominent local gov’t for themselves. They wondered whether the Hausa would have granted them the same privilege in Kano or any of the core Hausa states. Lives were lost in that crisis.

The appointment of a lady who is a non-indigene, as a commissioner in Ondo state, met with widespread condemnation. Indigenes in the state wondered why the state governor had to do that. They wondered if there were no indigenes of the state, suitably qualified for that particular position.

In another state in the middle belt, a Yoruba lady whose husband had just been elected governor did not gain acceptance from the indigenes until she adopted a local name of the people. That local name, became her official name, until they left office.

Every now and then, one comes across people who glorify and promote domestic violence against women.

‘If she is misbehaving, beat her up. That is the only language, women understand.’

‘I paid her bride price. How dare she open her mouth to ask me to wash plates or sweep? Is she mad? My mother never asked my father to wash plates. The other day, she didn’t serve me dinner until 9pm. She came home late from work. I was home before her but in my culture, a man does not enter the kitchen to cook. My father never did. No matter how tired she was, my mother would drag herself  to the kitchen and cook.”

One man went viral for beating his wife and boasting about it on Facebook. Why? She questioned an amorous relationship he had with another woman.

I had to turn down a marriage proposal recently because Oga was always telling me that he was going to deal with me after paying my bride price.

“My problem with you is that, you too sabi book. Hmmmm! If l pay your bride price ehn, l go show you pepper.”

That was a huge red flag which l refused to ignore. Paying my bride price was the license he needed to become an abusive spouse.

For some men,  it is okay to hit a woman as long as you have paid her bride price. Little wonder, a group of women are clamouring for the abolishment of bride price.

People consider it an act of smartness to jump queues rather than await their turns, wherever there is one. They do so without any feelings of guilt because everyone else is doing it.

Cases of corruption seem to be on the increase. Our leaders and politicians no longer hide their faces to steal from the people. It seems the more corruption is decried, the more emboldened our politicians and leaders become, in indulging in corrupt practices.

Why is that so?

The society in which we live, influences and shapes our behaviour, thoughts, values and ultimately our choices. We are a product of the society in which we find ourselves. In a different society with different value systems, the human capability to adapt to changes, come into play and we act accordingly.

You know why l laughed when l read the article calling people ‘rank hypocrites’ for saying indecent dressing has nothing to do with rape?  Because the writer of that article and others who think like him,  seem not to realise that they are what l would call  ‘conditional hypocrites.’ If they found themselves in an American or European society, they would not dare to say such a thing let alone write an article justifying rape.

Imagine them losing out on an opportunity because they had at one time, lent support to rapists by blaming the victim for dressing in a manner that caused her to be raped.

Rape is a very serious offence In western countries. Someone who knows this will be foolish to go to such countries and say anything that would seem like they were making a case for rapists. We already know that in western countries, people hardly frown at showing skin. No matter how scantily clad a woman is, that is not an invitation to rape. A Nigerian who knows this would never refer to anyone as a hypocrite for saying the way a woman dresses, is not an invitation to rape. They are only able to say so because we dwell in a society where rape is treated with kids gloves and rapists are allowed to walk away even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Nigerians in western countries like Britain, America and Canada,  are allowed to own property, contest elections and even get jobs.

I am yet to read about citizens of those countries asking the gov’t not to allow non-citizens have such privileges.

Nigerians see nothing wrong when other Nigerians living in the west, get the same opportunities as citizens of their host country. They celebrate when a Nigerian is given political office or climbs the ladder to head an organization.  Yet, at home, they shout and wail when non-indigenes get jobs and acquire property in their states.

Wondering why they can’t be as free and open-minded towards their fellow countrymen as citizens of western countries are towards them?

I will tell you. They live in a society where tribalism and ethnicity are promoted high above unity and oneness. Hence we will keep hearing things like;

“This is our land. You cannot come here and intimidate us o.”

It does not matter that the same people who claim that their lands are being taken over are the same people selling off the lands. Talk about eating one’s cake and still wanting to have it.

A man who believes in hitting women, automatically has a brain reset the moment he finds himself abroad with his wife. The same man who thinks women are property to be owned just because he paid her bride price, respects himself and his ancestors when he is in the west. In Nigeria, he screams ‘culture and tradition’ when his wife pleads with him to handle chores. Abroad, he does not raise an eyebrow when a white wife tells him to do same. He may even wash her underwear without being asked to. Culture and tradition, totally forgotten.

Women have a lot of power in the west. So the same Nigerian man who roars like a Lion and thinks women should be treated as inferior beings becomes a meek Lamb when he finds himself on western shores. No matter the level of anger his wife has stirred in him; no matter the number of offences she has committed, he does not dare raise as much as a finger on her. He might end up in jail or lose his property. But here in Nigeria, he is the incredible hulk. He can beat and maltreat his wife and still get away with it. He is hardly ever called to order. Instead, the wife is told to look inwards and find out what she is doing wrong. She is asked to work on herself while excuses are made for her abusive spouse.

You think people who jump queues easily over here, would do the same thing if they were abroad? They do so because they can get away with it.

People disobey road and traffic laws without batting an eyelid because they know they will get away with it.

They disobey a lot of laws because they know no one is going to punish them for it. How will they be punished when those in charge of maintaining the laws are breaking them as well?

There is hardly ever any penalty for committing an offence that is not of a criminal nature so people are happy to break the law.  They even regard themselves as smart alecs when they are able to break a law and get away with it. The Nigerian society promotes lawlessness therefore it is lawful to be unlawful.

Our leaders and politicians who steal with impunity and engage in corrupt practices are able to do so because the Nigerian society treats thievery and corruption with kids gloves. Lip service is paid to the destruction of the monster called corruption while behind the curtains, the citizens encourage its leaders to engage in corrupt practices. An upright person is considered a fool if he dares to be different.

The same set of leaders and politicians would not dare to engage in corrupt practices if they happened to find themselves in leadership positions abroad.

The kind of society we live in, shapes our value systems and thought patterns. We prefer to do the wrong things, not because we have no idea of what is right, but just because we can do wrong and get away with it. The truth is, Nigerians only pretend not to know that some of the things they do are wrong. Put the same Nigerian in a different society with a totally different value system, where right is upheld over wrong, he will automatically begin to do right.

A Nigerian and his seeming fascination with inappropriate acts and lawlessness are like we say in local parlance, five and six. His thought patterns and behaviour have been shaped over time by the weak value systems that make up his immediate environment. As a result, he behaves like one who lives in a ‘seemingly lawless’ society. Trust him to adapt and very easily too, in another society with no room for double standards.

The writer can be reached via ebutemay@gmail.com

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