To say there is mutual suspicion between northern and southern Nigeria is an understatement. I make bold to say that this suspicion didn’t start in 2015 but 1960 when Nigerian attained independence.
Over the years I have noticed some stereotyping that has refused to go away. As a popular saying, if you tell a lie often enough it will be accepted as the truth “. I believe that is what has been happening over the years.
The most common myth which is annoying and should be stopped is labeling Hausa/ Fulani as a single tribe. For the record, there is no tribe as Hausa / Fulani. It’s either you are Hausa or Fulani and not the combination of the two. The Hausa/ Fulani was coined by the south West press and for years it has stuck. That misinformation should stop as it has reached its expiry date. Although Hausa and Fulani intermarry it is still not enough reasons to lump the tribe together. I have seen Igbos marry Yoruba and vice versa and I have not heard people calling their kids Yoruba/ Igbo.
Another stereotype is calling every northerner a Hausa / Fulani man. I remember when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Boss Mustapha as the Secretary to the government of the federation, someone was telling me that the President has appointed another Fulani. I told him Boss is not Fulani and is a Christian but the person didn’t believe it, it was like trying to sell snow to an Eskimo.
The funny thing about this is you will see senior journalists, senior lawyers, and some respected intellectuals that you expect them to know but are utterly clueless when it comes to the north. Suffice to say, education is different from enlightenment. They don’t believe there are other tribes in the north, they will see you with Christian names even your name is Emmanuel, once you tell you are from the north they will tell ask you” so you are a Muslim? No matter their level of education. This is sad.
Another myth that tops the bunch is once you get an appointment and you are a northerner, it is because of the quota system or nepotism because, in their world, northerners can’t get any merit position.
I saw a disturbing video recently of some protesters in the United States raining invective on a man obviously a northerner telling him, how did he get a job at the Nigerian Embassy and also called him all sort of names that I can’t repeat here. In their warped minds, he cants obviously be qualified to work at the embassy since he is a Hausa/ Fulani man. The irony of the whole thing was that the man may not even be Hausa or Fulani.
I have met and had northern and southern friends. I have met brilliant northerners and dull ones ditto I have met brilliant southerners and very dull ones. Brilliance and intelligence are not an exclusive preserve of any tribe and region.
Indeed, the north may be educationally disadvantaged but it still doesn’t make them lesser intellectuals. That’s why I believe the government should stop giving different pass marks or benchmarks for northern and southern students. When you lower the bar, the student will also lower their thinking capacity and abilities but when you raise the bar, the student doesn’t have a choice but to step up. He knows it’s either he performs or loses out. That is how it should be. Let us have only the best. We have brilliant students all over the country. I will give more myths in future articles.