Thursday, August 02, 2007

Nigerian Status and Class

The BBC reports on the class divisions and stratifications in Nigeria . To be addressed as a Mr, Mrs or Ms in Nigerian social circles means you are a nobody. To be a mover or shaker you need to be a chief . To be a traditional chief is like being a small god - it is seen as the peak of one's achievement in life. A chief should be someone who is well-to-do financially and intellectually and has contributed substantially to the development of the community.

But no longer.

Honorary titles can often be bought by giving a donation of about $10,000 to one's home area.
The moment somebody is financially buoyant the next thing is to be chief because he has more money.
Many people use their titles for political gain. In Nigerian politicians don't sell party programmes, they sell people . It is the face , not the case .

"Chieftaincy titles have practically been bastardised these days," said Financial manager Reginald Ibe, a chief of the Igbo people in the south-east "Now you even have armed robbers, corrupt politicians and all sorts of people being chiefs,"

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was made chief shortly after he first stepped down from power when he was the military head of state in 1979. President Umaru Yar'Adua holds the title Matawalin Katsina - "custodian of wealth of Katsina" - given to him by the Emir of Katsina when he was governor.

"Most of the people who seem to be crazy about titles are making up for some deficiencies or some inadequacies," claims Alhaji Abbu Mohammed from northern Borno State, the Yerima Kida of Biu Emirate, which literally means he is prince of the Kida area.

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