Nigeria: Beyond Ethnic Profiling


Isa Yuguda, Bauchi State’s former governor is the latest Northern political elite to condemn the rise in ethnic profiling in the land. Following the footsteps of other prominent Northern leaders, the two-term governor decried the persecution of his ethnic group over the past few weeks as insecurity rips the country apart.

Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar in his strongly worded statement also warned of the danger that may accompany ethnic profiling if the media continues to play it up. Kadaria Ahmed wrote her own jaundiced story of how the country treads on the cusp of destruction. She speaks the mind of Northern hegemons but couldn’t escape the knocks that followed her plea. For Atiku Abubakar, Bello Mutawalle, Bala Mohammad and Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, the message is the same: stop profiling Fulani as the country’s trouble makers and rabble rousers. Ethnic profiling, they seem to chorus, is dangerously deadly if allowed to fester.

Nigeria is yet to move past stupidities that had shaken confidence and dampened hope. The country’s foundation, strained and stretched, is yet to guarantee safety, stability and security – and importantly, prosperity – as the nation juggles various existential challenges with each and every part of the country at loggerheads. The country seems caught in the scary crossroads of existence slipping through deep and cataclysmal division along ethnic and fault lines. Facing imminent and existential threats, the country’s leadership appears unprepared with each unit firing salvo across cylinders.

The 1994 Rwanda genocide may readily come to mind but history revealed the war and the death tolls were not as a of reckless ethnic profiling. That pogrom, various sources showed, didn’t emanate from neither ethnic profiling nor campaign of mudslinging. What indeed triggered that extermination between the Hutsi and Tutsi and which claimed up to a million lives was partly the nonchalant leadership and the widespread ethnic superiority that pervaded the country. The result of that was ethnic cleansing.

These leadership failure and ethnic superiority are manifestations of differences and diversity badly managed and used for personal gains. This further explained why no statement, no matter how strongly worded, will douse simmering tension or restore hope, faith and confidence in the entity called Nigeria. What ails us must be addressed same as where the shoe pinches us.

Wikipedia says racial or ethnic profiling is the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of assumed characteristics or behavior of a racial or ethnic group, rather than on individual suspicion. While this definition gives simple meaning to this word, the constant reference to it has added twists to the country’s quest for stability.

This we versus them syndrome is the first problem the country is yet to resolve, this dichotomy has created in Nigeria a country of two entities – the North and South. With this division comes mutual suspicion and distrust. While this may be deeply rooted in both pre and early independence, the crux of this is that the crop of leaders after the first republic abruptly ended have not shown commitment to cast net of safety across the country’s nooks and crannies. This, experts agreed, is the root cause of tensions coursing through the country now.

There is no-one-size fits solution to our myriads of challenges but we can start by healing our past trauma especially the aftermath of that civil war and build a country on equal opportunity, where every components part will feel the touch and presence of government.
––Muftau Gbadegesin,