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Blame game: The Nigerian scapegoat peppersoup

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Even devil sef dey wear white…

Today’s paper is an absolute mess, there are mistakes all up and down, who edited it? Ed did, Eid edited it. Ed edited it? Alright? So I edited it, I did edit it, but it wasn’t my column. Well, whose column was it? Colin. It was Colin’s column. It was Colin’s column? Yeah, Colin’s column. Well, where is Colin? He called in! Call Colin about his column. Colin? Says he didn’t write it. Rita. Rita wrote Colin’s column. Well, where’s Rita? Here. Yeah, I wrote it, but I didn’t proofread it. Well, who proofread it? Prue and Fred. Prue and Fred you proofread it. Yeah, we did, we did. Prue and Fred proofread what we had, but the photos were bad. Well, whose photos were they? Jessica’s? There are Jessica’s photos. Jessica’s photos.

I don’t like that. This office works best when things are fast and rhyming. Jessica, you are fired, Futtah, you are promoted…

In many societies, the “blame game” is a prevalent phenomenon where individuals and groups deflect responsibility for societal problems onto others. This tendency is particularly pronounced in Nigeria, where political, economic, and social issues are often attributed to a myriad of scapegoats rather than being addressed through constructive solutions. This essay explores the dynamics of the blame game in Nigeria, examining its causes, manifestations, and consequences for the nation.

Once upon a time, a sitting governor of one of those states, forgetting that he just won a second term went ahead, in ranting about the state of governance in the state, blamed the last administration, he had gone so far that, an aide who could not help it, sent him a note to remind him that he was the last administration.

The blame game better known as the scapegoat phenomenon is one that knows no decorum, no shame and there is no embarrassment in it. A politician starts out in PDP, joins APC, and then blames PDP, he leaves and moves to LP and blames both PDP and APC, along the line he goes back to PDP and says that he has gone back to where his heart is—Even devil wears white.

The game is simply not for learners…that’s why while we watch, the blamers like the former vice president and his once upon a time running mate and presidential candidate of the LP are stopping the blame to plan a game.

The blame game in Nigeria is rooted in several factors:

Historical Legacies: Nigeria’s colonial history has left deep scars, with the artificial creation of the Nigerian state leading to persistent ethnic and regional divisions. These divisions have been exploited by politicians, fostering a culture of blame rather than unity. Ibos blame everybody but themselves, marginalization is better understood from the concept of the marginalized of the marginalised, mind who you follow, you might be blamed.

Another fact is widespread corruption and ineffective governance which has eroded public trust in institutions. Politicians and public officials often shift blame to avoid accountability for their failures, perpetuating a cycle of corruption and inefficiency.

Economic Disparities: Nigeria’s wealth is unevenly distributed, leading to significant economic disparities. This inequality fuels resentment and finger-pointing, with different groups blaming each other for their economic woes. I listened only recently to a governor in the south-south (another aberration resulting from the blame game) crying foul about how oil wealth is shared by all but no one sees the mineral wealth of the north, in this blame game no one is held accountable for the wealth waste.

Political Manipulation: Nigerian politicians frequently engage in identity politics, using ethnicity, religion, and regionalism to deflect blame and rally support. This manipulation deepens societal divisions and distracts from addressing core issues.

The blame game in Nigeria manifests in various ways:

Ethnic and Regional Tensions: Ethnic groups often blame each other for economic hardships and political marginalization. For instance, the resource-rich Niger Delta region accuses the federal government and other regions of exploiting its resources without adequate compensation.

Religious Divisions: Religious tensions, particularly between Christians and Muslims, are exacerbated by the blame game. Incidents of violence and terrorism are often attributed to religious groups, inflaming sectarian hostilities.

Political Rhetoric: Politicians frequently blame their predecessors or political rivals for current problems. This rhetoric distracts from policy solutions and fosters a culture of perpetual campaigning rather than governance.

Public Discourse: In public discourse, the media and social commentators often engage in the blame game, focusing on assigning fault rather than proposing constructive solutions. This trend is amplified by social media, where misinformation and sensationalism thrive.

The blame game has several detrimental consequences for Nigeria:

Stagnation of Development: The focus on blame rather than solutions hampers progress. Critical issues such as infrastructure development, education, and healthcare are neglected as leaders and citizens engage in finger-pointing.

Erosion of Trust: Persistent blame-shifting erodes trust in institutions and leadership. When leaders fail to take responsibility, public confidence in governance diminishes, leading to apathy and disengagement.

Social Fragmentation: The blame game exacerbates social divisions, deepening ethnic, religious, and regional cleavages. This fragmentation undermines national cohesion and makes collective action more challenging.

Perpetuation of Corruption: By deflecting blame, corrupt individuals and institutions evade accountability. This perpetuates a culture of impunity, where corrupt practices go unchecked and unpunished.

Addressing the blame game in Nigeria requires a multifaceted approach:

Promoting Accountability: Strengthening institutions to hold leaders accountable is crucial. This includes enhancing the judiciary, anti-corruption agencies, and oversight bodies to ensure that public officials are answerable for their actions.

Fostering Unity: Efforts to promote national unity and reduce ethnic and religious tensions are essential. This can be achieved through inclusive governance, equitable resource distribution, and initiatives that foster intergroup dialogue and understanding.

Encouraging Responsible Leadership: Political leaders must be encouraged to focus on solutions rather than blame. This involves cultivating a culture of responsibility and service, where leaders prioritize the common good over personal or partisan interests.

Empowering Citizens: Educating and empowering citizens to engage in the political process can reduce the tendency to blame. An informed and active citizenry can hold leaders accountable and demand better governance.

Improving Public Discourse: Media and public commentators should prioritize constructive dialogue over sensationalism. Responsible journalism and public discourse can shift the focus from blame to solutions, fostering a more productive national conversation.

Sadly, we cannot and will not take any of my suggestions above because we still will blame someone. The blame game in Nigeria is a pervasive and deeply ingrained phenomenon that hinders progress and perpetuates division. Addressing it requires a concerted effort to promote accountability, foster unity, encourage responsible leadership, empower citizens, and improve public discourse. By moving beyond the blame game, Nigeria can unlock its potential and build a more cohesive, prosperous, and just society—May Nigeria win.

Prince Charles Dickson, Ph.D. is the Team Leader of The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre). He is a development & media practitioner, a researcher, policy analyst, public intellect and a teacher.

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