Friday, July 20, 2012

You No From Here

by Jonas Dogara
I be Port Harcourt boy. Wetin I mean be say, dem born me for PH, I grow up for PH and I done live a big part of my life for PH. So, if somebody from anywhere in the world ask me where be my hometown, I go say Port Harcourt. And that answer go tell them where dem born me or where I grow up. E simple like that.

Naija map with the 36 states and FCT
The interesting thing na when Nigerians ask me where be my hometown. I no go fit say PH. Because, according to our own definition of hometown, PH no go be the correct answer. Nigeria say I no be indigene. She say PH no be my hometown because my forefathers no come from there. Dem come from another town for Rivers State. A town where I never spend more than two weeks at one time. I fit count the people wey know me there. When I go there, I dey spend plenty of my time to explain to people which person pikin I be. Na Christmas and New Year and burials dey carry me reach there most times. But officially, na my hometown.

I get cousins wey dem born for Lagos, grow up for Lagos, go school for Lagos and now dey work for Lagos. Their own even bad pass my own, because dem dey reach our hometown like once every five years! But officially Lagos no be their hometown. Dem no be indigenes.

This way of seeing things done result in plenty problems wey we no suppose to get for our country. The first part be say e done turn millions of us to second-class citizens for our country. If you no dey live for your State of Origin, na automatic wahala you get so. In fact, for some parts of our country we done get some bloody wahala dem between aborigines and settlers, even though all of dem na Nigerians. Most of us know the stories. But that na matter for another time.

As I dey so, I no fit contest for Local Government Chairman for Port Harcourt LGA. Most of my friends wey be PH people like me too no fit contest. We no be indigenes. But na there wey everybody know us. Na there people fit say who we be and wetin our character be and if we fit lead well. The funny part be say, I fit contest for Councillorship! I no understand where that rule come from, but na so I see am. Now, I qualify to contest for Chairman for my LGA. But, who know me for there? Think of my Lagos cousins and how their own go be. Their own wahala chop winch!

A few years ago, before Maiduguri become part of Afghanistan, one of my friends wey from Delta State dey live there. For him to collect PTDF Scholarship forms, the guy get to travel to Asaba, because the forms for Maiduguri na for Borno State indigenes alone. I dey sure say na the same thing go done happen to the Bornu people wey dey Delta State.

Some of the people wey I grow up with for PH from the north. Their States no fall into the ‘Catchment Area’ of the University of Port Harcourt. And we know say sometimes the difference between person getting and not getting admission na Catchment Area. Some of dem been get that wahala. So government dey tell us say make e better to go school where we from. If we say we want national integration (wey make we dey do NYSC), why we need Catchment Areas to enter university? Why people no fit go whichever part of the country dem like and get the same opportunities? Now wey fear done enter our body, people no wan go NYSC for some parts of the country again. Dem go like stay for their Catchment Area. Government no gree. Dem dey quote law and constitution for us. The minister wey dey responsible say na ‘sacrifice’. The question na ‘to which juju’? If this no be confusion, abeg tell me wetin confusion be.

Courtesy Mike Asukwo
 Work for State Civil Service na another important wahala. For people wey no dey live for their State of Origin e hard to get. For those wey manage get the work too, wahala still dey. Because, Governor fit wake up one day, and tell dem ‘Ghana must go!’ or in this case ‘All other Naija must go!’ Recently, Abia State Government decide say e go good to pursue all the Nigerians wey no from Abia comot for their civil service. On any level wey you look am, e no make any sense at all and you no go wan believe say our law dey allow this kind madness. But na so we see am. I thank God say Him cure their craze before e pass ‘be careful’.

I grow up to hear say in the years after Independence, Igbo men dey legislature for Lagos and Hausa men dey government for Enugu, all because na where dem dey live be that. E hard to imagine now! I get to mention say some state Governors done do well because dem put people wey no from their states for their cabinets. That na something wey we suppose clap for. 

But that alone no do. We need more. We need to make am a constitutional matter. The laws need to change so that all of us go equal, no matter where we from and where we dey. We need to get the right to live somewhere and say ‘here na my home’ and nobody go tell us say na lie. We need to move to an era when we get all the rights, priviledges and responsibilities for where we dey live; when Naija person no go be second-class citizen for him country. We need to redefine ‘home’.

If we do that, then we go dey one step closer to that Naija wey we dey dream of.

For me, law or not, I know my hometown. Na Port Harcourt. Where be your own?

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter


  1. No be only for civil service. What about the hausa children wey don fail finish from secondary school but fit enter any uni they want and study any course they want because of educationally-less-developed-states? The thing tire me. We suppose adopt the system of kenya where your state of origin is your state of abode. My home town na Port Harcourt too, but my state of origin na Abia.

    1. Uzygirl, I dey sure say 'educationally-disadvantaged' states include some states from the south of the country too o. But wetin you talk about state of abode na the key. Dem suppose dey group people with regards to where dem dey live and not where dem ancestors come from.

    2. Na true you talk oh - some southern states follow too; but the northern ones plenty pass sha. Last time I checked na 4 elds for south and 20 for north. But pardon my generalisation abeg.

    3. Well Uzy, at least we agree say we get proper wahala wey need solution. Make we begin try to solve am anyhow we fit o.