BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

The audacity of bigotry: Who yielded the moral mic to Shehu Mahdi?

In my native Igbo parlance there is a saying that “Nwanne onye ara ka ihere na-eme” (it means that, since the mad man is shameless, it is to his sibblings that his shame goes to).

I wish to start with a declaration of the obvious which is that every ethnic nationality in Nigeria, without an exception, has illustrious sons and daughters in whom they are well pleased, much as they have their fair share of “black sheeps” on the fringe of nobility and moral rectitude, who every now and then bring shame upon their kinsmen by their actions and words. Such a cohabitation of the noble and the ignoble seems like a natural balancing.

However, the problem is when those on the fringe of nobility and moral rectitude, their supposed exposure to formal education notwithstanding, assume the role of spokespersons for their kinsmen.

As they usurp the moral podium and therefrom vent their bigotry, they bring nothing but shame and disgrace to the illustrious, much so if the latter condones the usurper or fails to denounce him.

There is no right-thinking Nigerian of Northern extraction, both Muslim and Christian, who can take pride in the ethnic and religion venom that Alhaji Shehu Mahdi recently spewed at the person and presidential candidacy of the Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).

Shehu Mahdi does not need introduction in our socio-political arena. He has been around for a while and courts controversy by his unguarded utterances. The only difference is that his fear of Peter Obi’s rising popularity seem to have drawn him out of his hole like a puff adder with volumes of venom on his tongue for discharge “Peterwards”.

Having seen that the vast majority of South-South, South-East, and even South-western voters are gravitating towards the Labour Party presidential candidate against his preferred candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mahdi quickly set his serpentine mind to work and came up with the idea that, perhaps, if he could dissuade the majority of northern christians in the middle-belt from voting Peter Obi, then it could benefit his preferred candidate.

Read also: Religion raises political stakes, risks dividing Nigerians

What Mr. Mahdi failed to understand is that times have changed; the poverty and hardship have gone round the four corners of Nigeria in the last eight years and have stung Nigerian masses, like gadfly, to political “wiseness”. So, his advice in the said video, that northern christians should think wisely and vote wisely, is well taken.

They will do just that by voting Peter Obi of the Labour Party. Needless to say that, it is an insult to the collective sensibility of all those that Mahdi addressed his perfidious exhortation to, that he assume them to be incapable of making a good decision on their own, hence, he has to teach them the “right” thing to do.

Talks such as Mahdi’s are often justified with “it’s all politics”. It is not politics. It is lack of character and integrity. To see that Mahdi had the gut to stretch the limits of bigotry and hate speech, is to say the least, a total disgrace to all the illustrious sons and daughters of northern Nigeria whom he claim to represent and speak for. What an audacity of bigotry! Who yielded the moral Mic to Shehu Mahdi?

#LetUsTakeBackOurCountry

Celestine, a social commentator, writes from Lagos

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.