Jelani Aliyu is an engineer and automobile designer. He is celebrated for the design of Chevrolet Volt, an auto brand of General Motors. And he is from Sokoto state.
Seyi Oyesola is a Nigerian from the southwest. He is celebrated for the co-invention of the CompactOR, better known as the ‘hospital in a box’ – a portable medical portmanteau containing anaesthetics and surgical equipment for health emergencies. His invention is a regarded as a breakthrough for medical practice in Africa.
Ndubuisi Ekekwe is a Nigerian from the southeast. He is known for the invention of microchips used in “minimally invasive surgical robots”. He has other inventions in his portfolio, including a patented microchip for iPhone.
These Nigerians are celebrated globally for their contributions to science, technology and medicine. And they come from the north, east and west of the country. And there are many other Nigerians around the world achieving great feats and pushing the frontiers of human endeavour.
Naturally, the achievements of these individuals are counted for Nigeria and not for their “state of origin” or region. But why do some Nigerians stereotype an entire ethnic group for a crime committed by an individual or a group? Why is it so easy to assert negative fallacies like, “all Igbo are robbers; all Yoruba are fraudsters; all Fulani are terrorists, but it becomes a chore to acknowledge truer realities like, “Igbo are good inventors; Yoruba are great scientists, Fulani are exceptional thinkers and planners?”
Why do we define ourselves by the misdeeds of some stray hounds among us, but not by the great deeds of the lodestars around us? Why must we only seek to denigrate, tear down and abuse one another?
No ethnic group is in short supply of misfits, but where there is one prodigal child; there are 10,000 shining examples of obedience, morality and contentment.
Ethnic profiling and stereotyping is insidious. It survives long after the incident for which it is deployed. I think, it is a very corrosive form of hate speech. Sadly, some Nigerians, no matter how highly placed, submit themselves to the temptations of this vice.
Individuals commit crime, not the ethnic group. The motivations for crimes do not come from the ethos of any tribe, but from personal greed, debauchery and decadence. All ethnic groups in the country have a culture which abhors crime. The Igbo, the Yoruba and the Hausa cosmology extols the virtues of modesty, morality, hard work, fairness and justice.
Crime has no ethnic face.