I’ve been paying attention to the ethnic composition of Nigerian criminal gangs with the corner of one eye. My non-scientific finding: our small criminal gangs are a mirror of the fratricidal ethnic divisions, hate, and bitterness among the small people.
In other words, our small criminals replicate tribalism and the intense ethnic provincialism which clog the minds of people in the lower classes in Nigeria and prevent progress.
Take a look at the composition of Evans’ criminal gang: everybody is Igbo.
A few weeks ago in Toronto, the police were finally able to burst a notorious Nigerian criminal gang of credit card racketeers and other assorted fraud. From gang leader to gang messenger, everyone was Yoruba.
From the US to the UK to Canada to Indonesia to Thailand and to Nigeria, every time the law catches up with a Nigerian criminal gang, do not bother to look beyond the name of the gang leader.
Whether it is kidnapping or drugs or credit card and other 419 schemes, the ethnicity of the gang leader always determines the ethnicity of the rest of the gang.
There was an Arewa drug gang bursted by the police in Thailand a few years ago. I looked at the names: all Hausa Fulani.
Because many of these criminals come from the lower classes, they reflect what you see on display among members and children of the lower classes on social media every day:
Small-minded clannishness, ethnic insularity, hate, bitterness and division. Among the Nigerian lower classes, even crime must be kept in the tribal family.
Now, let us leave the ranks of the little people and migrate to the ranks of the world’s leading criminals: Nigeria’s one percent. The looters in the political class. Public office holders. The owners of Nigeria.
Mind you, the rulers of Nigeria in the one percent are worse criminals than the kidnappers, the 419 fraudsters, and the drug pushers described above.
However, are they petty-minded and tribalistic in their orbit of crime?
Well, take a trip with Mallam Doyin Okupe. Before he landed in Aso Rockk Villa with Goodluck Jonathan, he was involved in contract jibiti. Who was he scamming in contracts? His Yoruba people? For where.
Among the one percent, pan-Nigeria is very important. They are the purest embodiment of though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand.
Thus, one Igbo criminal governor in Imo state took care of his Yoruba criminal brother from Ogun state and awarded him juicy contracts on the back of the Igbo people of Imo state.
Doyin Okupe collected on the contract and vamoosed. Did he return to Yoruba land on his way back from Imo? For where. He stopped over in Benue where one criminal Idoma Governor (abi na Tiv?) awarded him another chop and clean mouth contract.
From Benue to Imo to Ogun: no ethnic or religious division. These are members of the one percent. When two Okun jibiti Senators went after each other recently on Channels, I noticed that Harvard alumnus, Dr. Dino Melaye, accused Hotelier Emeritus, Smart Adeyemi, of collecting contracts from Peter Odili back in the day. You see how many ethnic rivers Smart Adeyemi crossed for contract racketeering in the south-south?
Look at Dasuki. He is the true definition of in my father’s house there are many mansions there. No one percenter’s bank account was left uncredited by Dasuki. He did for Hausa.
He did for Fulani. He did for Yoruba. He did for Igbo. He did for Ijaw. He did for Ogoni. He did for everybody.
Your only qualification for his ATM was being a Pan-Nigerian member of the one percent.
So, if you are a member of the lower classes who has spent the last two bitter weeks hurling curses and hate behind ethnic lines, you better ‘borrow’ yourself brain.
Even the petty criminals who rise from among you reflect your hate and small-minded tribalism.
That is why you and the petty criminals are always where you are in the lower rungs of social advancement.
Look at how far unity has gotten our united one percenters. As a group, they have done very well for themselves by uniting across ethnic and religious lines in criminality.
If you unite across ethnic and religious lines in good works, vision, social mission, and nation building, you will do better, much better than the criminal group of one percenters have done for themselves.
I got an email from my son, Mitterand Okorie, yesterday notifying me that he has quit social media for now because of all the hate and division.
You are driving the best minds away. You are losing them to despondency.
People united by crime should never trump your potential to unite for good and maximize your differences for social progress.
Ethnic difference is wealth, not a liability.
Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English, writes from Canada.