Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq at the weekend cautioned against ethnic profiling in Nigeria, describing the trend as “a clear and present danger” to corporate existence of the country.
“Ethnic profiling is a cancer that is a clear and present danger to corporate existence of our country. It is a phenomenon that has led to loss of lives and destruction of properties worth billions of naira,” AbdulRazaq said in Osogbo at the grand finale of the 2020 Press Week of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Osun State Council.
“The fact that we speak different tongues or have different origins is not the problem. Differences are established facts of history. The problem has been a culture of negative profiling of one another on the basis of ethnicity. This leads to mutual distrust, unnecessary suspicion, hatred, unhealthy rivalry which eventually graduate to ethnic violence as we have seen in various parts of our country.”
AbdulRazaq, who was the keynote speaker at the event, urged the media to lead the battle against ethnic profiling.
The Governor was represented at the event by his chief press secretary Rafiu Ajakaye.
Speaking on the topic ‘Ethnic profiling and threat to national cohesion’, the Governor said no particular ethnic group has the patent for any specific bad conducts, and urged Nigerians to desist from blaming people’s bad conducts on their origins or religions.
“No tribe is bad. None is created to be bad. What makes a person bad is not their ethnicity. What makes a person bad is a set of anti-social behaviours that hurts everyone, including persons from their own ethnic group. Every ethnic group has its good, bad, and the ugly. So, what is bad is not the ethnicity of any individual or suspected criminal. What is bad are the anti-social behaviours such persons have exhibited to the detriment of the larger society,” he added.
“Whether in news reporting or analysis of national events, (the media) should discourage the use of words or terms that may profile people on the basis of their ethnicity or any other cleavages. Some of such dangerous or derogatory terms, in modern ethnic relations in Nigeria, are Fulani herdsmen, Igbo traders, Yaminri, or Aboki. These terms connote negativity, even when their true and original meanings may not necessarily be bad. A good example is Aboki, a word that ordinarily means ‘friend’. Today, however, the term aboki is misunderstood to mean a fool by popular estimation.”
The governor also urged Nigerians to take up the responsibility of stopping ethnic profiling and promote things that help to strengthen national unity and development of the country.
“As a nation, we need to urgently navigate away from seeing whatever happens in this country or action taken by government at any level from the prisms of ethnicity. It is a dangerous voyage which does no one any good. Rather, it veils us from seeing things from fair and balanced perspective or appreciating whatever benefits derivable from such efforts,” AbdulRazaq said.
“Our obvious diversities must not be impediments to national unity and cohesion. We should appreciate our differences, tolerate one another and move away from all divisive tendencies, and embrace one another for national unity and cohesion. This is when our differences could be a blessing to us in Nigeria.”
Chairman of the occasion and former registrar/chief executive of the national board for technical education (NABTEB) Prof. Olu Aina, for his part, charged media professionals to continuously encourage technical education to make citizens self-reliant and not job seekers to reduce unemployment.
“The recent #EndSARS protest was not an accident but an incident that was bound to happen partly because of unemployment. For the past 30 years, I have been emphasising on technical education and employment of the youths. Media professionals must make more noise on this to avoid another protest,” he said.
Chairman of Osun NUJ Wasiu Ajadosu, in his remarks, commended Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for the recent support to Kwara NUJ and sought similar support from various stakeholders to Osun NUJ.
“It should be noted that just recently, the Kwara State Government supported NUJ in the state with the sum of N17.5m for the rehabilitation of its facility. Although Osun NUJ understands that there is paucity of funds in the state (Osun) with huge financial responsibility, we nonetheless consider it imperative for the government to come to our aid as a matter of exigency,” he said.
Ajadosu also commended Osun Governor Gboyega Oyetola for appointing six journalists into the government, saying it was unprecedented in the annals of the union in the state.