By Mukhtar Garba Maigamo
The trending video that surfaced after President Buhari attended the UNGA in New York, showing an unprovoked assault on some people that are considered “Hausa-Fulani” or “Northern Muslims” by their provocateurs on account of their facial countenance and, or the apparels in them, is a perfect example of the deep-rooted hatred, obsessions and insecurities bedevilling many people in some parts of this country which translated into this dismissive ‘othering’.
It is even very possible that these two or three people in the video who are being verbally assaulted with a barrage of racist abuses and the most opprobrious language, share no cultural or ethnolinguistic affinities with Fulani, but because of the fact the racialization of the Buhari/APC government has taken a firm root, the entire people of the North are lumped together as either Fulani or Hausa-Fulani (whatever that means) and demonized by many people in the South, including even the most educated ones. What a profoundly ignorant mischaracterization!
This sort of ignorance has historically also manifested in the ‘Aboki’ and ‘Gambari’ ethnic slurs these people used with profound contempt.
But the striking irony is that there are many people here in the North or even residents of Daura (hometown of Mr President) who might have felt disillusioned with the Buhari’s administration, who could also share cultural, ethnic and religious affiliations with him. Still, they are worst-off today, and there are those also who do not share these features with the president. Still, by their circumstances or by way of geography, they are lumped together and mischaracterized as Fulani or Hausa Fulani.
But the danger of this otherization and the racialization of APC is that it could provoke ethnic and religious sentiments during elections and make people rally around a maligned candidate- whether he is the right choice or not, in terms of capacity and ability to deliver.
When, because of your pathological hatred of a single person, his party or associations, you pigeonhole an entire stock of his ethnic nationality and derogate as dregs of the country, you are invoking his people’s consciousness to rise against you whether or not they love him.
This same thing happened during GEJ when some clannish zealots otherized the entire country, but south-south. Under GEJ watchful eyes, Edwin Clerk and his passengers went about with rhetorics and threatened fire and brimstone against anyone who raised eyebrows against their posturing.
His wife also went about demonizing the North as the habitat of almajiri (the almajiri that are menacing the North too, and whom many people in the North were campaigning against).
Her infamous diatribe, “our people no dey born shildren wey dem no dey count. Our men no dey born shildren throway for street. We no dey like the people from that side” was the final straw that galvanized the anger of people to rise and rally around ethnic solidarities to defeat GEJ.
The victory of APC in 2015 and 2019 was, therefore, a combination of many factors, including the idealization and evocation of sentiments for candidates put forward by the party.
And this will continue to play out if the antipathy like the one we’ve seen in this video continues.
Mukhtar Maigamo writes from Kaduna. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.