Nigeriana: Portraiture on Ethnicity and Elitism in Nigeria

O. Jason Osai


Drawing from the aphorism, which holds that: "a picture is worth a thousand words," and adding that a painting is worth a million words, the paper subjects a work of art by Agboola Ayodeji to critical analysis within the purview of the degree to which ethnicity, with the consequent ethnocentrism, is a major factor in statecraft in Nigeria. Arguing that the portrait encapsulates the ethno-political and the resultant socioeconomic realities of the Nigerian project, the paper examines the reasons for the inability of the masses to mobilize themselves and embark on nationwide constructive engagement with the government on issues of common interest. It shows how the masses have been blinded to the fact that, irrespective of the differences in tribe, tongue and creed, the common denominators in the Nigerian socioeconomic and political milieu are pervading poverty, malnutrition, disease, collapsed infrastructure, crippled educational system, inefficient health-care delivery system, lack of water, constant power outage, inter-community conflict, insecurity and general hostility bothering on xenophobia. The prevalence of these ills, in spite of the enormous wealth in the country has resulted in their domination and exploitation by the elites. The paper ends with a call on the masses to transcend these primordial sentiments, see the real dividing lines, depart from the prevailing docility and dormancy and demand that public officers give acceptable account of their stewardship or be recalled or voted out at the next electoral opportunity.

O Jason Osai is a 1975 graduate of political science/radio television from Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, USA, from where he also obtained a master of public administration (MPA) degree in 1979. He is currently a senior lecturer at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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