The soft underbelly of a nation

November 7, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Allison Shelley



Prince Charles Dickson

“Every ethnic group is an oppressed minority somewhere. Every group is a religious and ethnic minority somewhere. Every majority or settler is an indigene somewhere. In one way, we are all settlers; we just don’t remember where we came from or why we came. But ultimately, we are all visitors to this planet, from God we come and to Him we return.” Alh. Nurudeen Lemu.

Somewhere at the beginning of this year, I went to the Federal Road Safety Office to start the process of getting my driver’s license renewed. After all the bureaucratic higgi-hagga, I was done and was given a temporary license, and asked to come pick up the real copy by May. I was finally asked to get it only in November…each time I went to their office, I was asked to come back after one story or the other about events in their print farm.

While I may be complaining, a man I met there was picking his, but unfortunately it was already expired as he was picking it up.

The above discomfort was at the core while I reflected on a news piece that caught my attention, and I will share it and then we will look at our plight as Nigerians;


A 30-year- old, commercial motorcyclist, Tukur Paul on Friday beat his wife, Mrs. Jennifer Paul to stupor over her accusation of snoring. It was the intervention by neighbors and passers-by that saved her from further attack.

One of the neighbors Lawrence Oluwanishola, who witnessed the fight, told NAN that the couple who resides at Masaka, Nasarawa State, were fond of constituting nuisance to the environment through constant querrals. According to him, it all started at about 9 pm on Thursday when neighbors ran outside at the shout of the wife who was seriously beaten by her husband. “How on earth in this present modern world will a man beat up his wife over trivial issue? We learnt that the wife preventing the husband from sleeping just because he was snoring,” Oluwanishola said.

He said that so many cases of divorce in society could be prevented, if minor issues like this are promptly settled by couples. “This is not a case of extra-marital affairs that usually lead to divorce, but a mere misunderstanding that could be controlled with little patience,’’ he said.

However, when NAN spoke with the husband, he said his wife prompted him to beat her after several warnings. “She prevented me from sleeping after having a hard day, I pleaded with her but refused,” he said. Paul said having gone through a hectic day, that he decided to have some rest but was prevented by his wife because he was snoring. “What happened, I will say is the devil’s handiwork? I lost my motorbike which has been helping me to fend for the family. “I immediately contacted the police who were able to help me get it back. I brought it back home and all the while my wife could not call to know where I was. I got home only for me to have some rest and after dozing off; my wife woke me up to tell me I was disturbing her with my snoring,” he said.

Paul, who later apologized to his wife, thanked the neighbors for the brotherly love they have extended to his family. The wife said the incident was due to communication gap, which was misinterpreted. “I was angry because my husband left me and the children without telling us where he went. The couple had been living together for past nine years and the union is blessed with three children.


The above is the Nigerian epic, we have been living together and yes blessed for as many decades as one can count, we have equally endured our curses together as a nation. We are all victims of bad leadership and governance bereft of ideas. The issues that beset us as a nation and a people does it require that we go our own ways, is a question we are not in agreement.

Many ethnic nationalities want to sleep, but they snore, others just want to rest, others cannot find rest. We are suffering deep communication gaps, many feel and rightly so marginalized, others won’t let them sleep.

Christians accuse Muslims, and vice versa, to the Southern Nigerian his mortal enemy is the Northern Nigerian, to the Northerner as we are referred to, the Middle Belter thinks he is being undone, and that Middle Belt has different colors and typology; the political middle belt, geographical and the religious, and the middle belt without a belt.

We have the artificial created South-South which technically is an aberration, and then the Niger Delta which implies ‘our resources’ and ‘their struggles’. We know that really that there is nothing like the Hausa-Fulani, and I wonder why there is no Fulani-Hausa. We have our Igbo brothers which includes the real Igbos, and the half-castes and the outcastes. We all through our snoring are causing discomfort for each other.

Like my experience at the Road Safety Office, the nation remains one like the marriage where some persons went to snore and sleep, others just want to sleep and not snore. We do not need a central printing farm for drivers’ licenses, but we want the money that can be generated via that effort, but really why can a state not have its farm, its own processes and systems at acquiring a drivers’ certification.

Like the story of the couple we keep beating each other at the slightest provocation, the Christian who named his Dog Buhari is prosecuted, the Muslim dudes that killed a woman in Kano are set free, we adjective crime, criminality and death by ethnicity, religion and creed.

Others would think they have a right to snore, and others would believe that they are perpetually misunderstood, another would constantly have to deal with their tricycles (livelihood) stolen all the time. The problem is not Buhari, nor was it Jonathan, and it was not a reluctant Shagari, of google-ed Abacha, or Maradonic IBB; our problem remains a soft underbelly that we are afraid to address once and for all, and for this and many reasons we will continue to beat ourselves, for how long—Only time will tell.










Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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