Problem of Self-marginalization (The Case of Akwa Ibom State)

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Lectures : 9640

 : Posted by
Nuckecy 3 September, 2012
By Joe Etokudor

More than the government, regional or federal, and any other Nigerian groups, Akwa Ibom people have been their own enemy. The Akwa Ibom people’s problem of  self-marginalization has been the product of several tendencies – self – debilitation, passivity, a primitive and diabolical tendency of indulging with nymphs, and relying on different clan deities for direction, coupled with on exaggerated sense of individualism. An exaggerated sense of individualism shows in the care free disposition or the general lack of concern. Prof. Iniobong Udoidem calls this “Nsimbeghe-ism”. Reliance on different deities and nymphs is an indulgence that breeds clannishness, divisions and intrigues which give rise to distrust and spite.

To many, the whole Akwa Ibom Society appears to be under the sway of some witching power or influence that holds a spell over the minds of good people, causing some to live in fear and reverie. These negative influences have helped produce a society that appears to be at war with itself – an atomistic society and in dire need of collective empowerment and direction. The whole society needs a spiritual purging to liberate it from the negative influences that inhibit and weaken many and the adoption of more Christian values. Perhaps it is these negative influences in Akwa Ibom Society that make the people their own enemy, in refusing to agree with each other and in the attitude and actions toward each other. Is it not ironic that Akwa Ibom people are in general very hospitable and friendly to strangers, but are negatively jealous of their own kind? This common tendency is a real problem that manifest in many forms and has also been responsible for the Akwa Ibom people’s self-marginalization.

The Akwa Ibom person-to-person relationship has hardly been cordial and mutual. There appears to be too much anger, suspicion, tension and frustration among the people. One wonders what makes a people so angry at each other that they can freely vent such anger publicly. If it is not the negative influences that abound in the society, could it be the genes or the type of food that spur the people to act out this way? Recently on Akwa Ibomite congress woman in Abuja was widely reported to have openly slapped her colleague in the Federal House as a way of releasing her personal frustration. One is indeed forced to ask why there is such a common tendency to openly express or vent anger and frustration at each other that is fast becoming a behaviour trait of Akwa Ibom people.

This pattern of behaviour tends to vindicate the former Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, Professor Emmanuel Ayandele, who commented about the ethnic hostility that became a common place scene at the University and within the Akwa Ibom Society by extension. According to his perception, the Akwa Ibom Society was an “atomistic society perpetually at war with itself”. Many did and still want to refute such claims particularly as the Vice chancellor was a Yoruba man who hails from the South Western part of Nigeria – an area known for more atomistic behaviour. Many people were more offended because no one would have expected this comment from a man from this part of Nigeria. But from my personal experience as an indigene of this area, it would amount to dishonesty to deny that the society to an extent, earned such a negative stigma. The problem here is not so much of people being angry as it is of being openly angry and intolerant of each other. There is no doubt that to an observer, Akwa Ibom Society would obviously give the appearance of one obsessed with hate of inveterate propensity.

Self-marginalization also manifests in how the Akwa Ibom people prefer to promote small groups efforts rather than the large collective effort of the people. This tendency has been responsible for the Akwa Ibom’s inability to develop more central leadership. Dr Udoma agrees to this assertion in his account in the “story of the Ibibio Union”, “the major problem confronting Akwa Ibom as a people was one concerning segmentation or division.

The was also a tendency for the Akwa Ibom communities living in their scattered manner, to break up into independent segments propelled by the love of freedom “the practice of coalescence was always an exception rather than the rule. The tendency towards segmentation was perhaps a manifestation of the historical fact that from time immemorial, the Akwa Ibom people as a whole have never before been seriously exposed to or confronted by external forces which could have compelled them to unite even in self defence”.

The tendency to polarize is not the only form of Akwa Ibom self-marginalization. There is a common and destructive mentality I call “ crab mentality”. Crab mentality is synonymous with witchcraft and more often is mischievous. It portrays the behaviour of crabs as each of them prevails to ensure that none of them placed in a container escapes from their common condition of restraint.

The Akwa Ibom people don’t tend to support their own to success as they remain negatively jealous of each other even to a point of undermining themselves. Many Akwa Ibom people would prefer a society of periwinkles, where everyone wears a hat like a king and would hardly stand their own becoming any greater. There is also a general complex of disregard for earner achievements.

As a result, consciously and unconsciously, Akwa Ibom people work to undo and bring down each other. This mentality is synonymous with witchcraft because both are ill-tempered; with tendencies to spoil or ruin, grouse or grumble, and refuse to see their own excellence.

The crab mentality is not only self-destructive and damaging, but also a common disease that needs spiritual and pathological treatment. This mentality explains why the Akwa Ibom group has been having problems getting along in unity. It is like an inherent and unconscious characteristic of many Akwa Ibomites, and it is mentality that is rarely found in relative degree among other ethnic groups in Nigeria. Other ethnic-groups in Nigeria know better to defend and extol their own. This same mentality is common with Akwa Ibomites in Diaspora. This mentality is common among the poor Akwa Ibom people, it is common with the educated elite and the rich as well.

For example an Akwa Ibom woman by name, Mrs. Rita Akpan, made history as the first woman from the area to be appointed a federal minister, a case that should naturally call for jubilation and applause. Instead, some Akwa Ibom people responded with destructive petitions writing, and criticisms. Responding to these self-destructive tendencies in a reception in Abuja in honour of Akwa Ibom professionals, the then Governor of the state, Obong Victor Attah made the following comments, “you write these petitions, you denounce your own but those to whom you address the petitions just see you as infidel, a traitor, a mercenary and a very cowardly one at that. They will probably use the information even when they know that it is not true. In the end, we lose both ways. Have we ever stopped to count the enormity of our self-inflicted losses? But for how long must we continue to kill our prophets? How long must we continue to shoot down one of our own simply because, by chance or by design, by dint of shard work or by divine providence, his head happens to be raised slightly above ours? Sometimes, we do these things out of desperation, but then sometimes out of sheer bad mindedness, and sometimes out of ambition.

When you find people of diminutive political stature seeking to occupy a large political space, the result is a grotesque distortion of our social anthropometrics. I believe it is time for an examination of conscience.” I couldnt agree more with the governor. It’s common to hear the elders exercising the same mentality, complaining about the youths and refusing to acknowledge that the youths will surely grow up and should be treated right and given a chance to perform with more energy and enthusiasm. The tendency here is to disregard and disrespect others, particularly their own. Some parents ignorantly use this mentality to limit their children.

This mentality encourages the enthronement of mediocrity in every Akwa Ibomite affair and the discouragement and frustration of the stars and the best among the Akwa Ibom people. This tendency is anti-progress and needs to be thrown away to give way to the spirit of encouragement and extolling one’s own. I have observed that some agents of the Akwa Ibom self-marginalization have been the educated elite who drum up falsehood or divisive creeds to misinformation the people. This tendency complicates issues for the people tool.

The way for Akwa Ibom people in Nigeria to move forward is through unity, learning to be empowered by the strength of their numbers, being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and protecting our collective interest as people of the same origin.

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Article publié le mercredi 5 septembre 2012
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