Originally published on Ynaija.com
Like death and taxes, you can always depend on Nigerian politicians to skirt important issues and focus on misplaced priorities. Masters of diversion and petty politics, Nigerian politicians seem to amp up their politicking once elections start to draw close, or the voting public’s confidence in them begins to wane. They’ve done this, no matter which party is in power since 1999, and some of us are still not hip to it. But perhaps, this will be the time that we learn.
It used to be that the simplest diversionary tactic for politicians looking to curry favor was stirring tribal differences, but since the advent of Boko Haram, the El-Zakzaky shi’ite movement and Biafra going from barely-remembered fever dream to a very present threat to Nigeria staying the country it is right now, politicians have become very wary to taking that route. Instead they’ve turned their focus on to sexual minorities. In 2014, Goodluck Jonathan basically hinged his public perception on taking a ‘hard stance’ on homosexuality and passing a bill banning homosexual unions which was basically a gross human rights violation.
And now, according to this Punch Nigeria article, The Director of the National Orientation Agency, Dr. Garba Abari, at an event that had nothing to do with sexuality, ‘lamented’ the current ’embrace’ of homosexuality by young Nigerians. Here’s a choice quote from the article:
He said, “It is pertinent to note that the advent of satellite broadcasting has continued to pose a serious challenge to our traditional culture and religious values and our identity as a people. Our youths are now being deceived by the international media with values that are at variance with our culture and the teachings of our religion.
“The wearing of tattoos, dreadlocks hairstyle, sagging trousers and the painting of hair have become a vogue among our young men and women.’
Now if Dr. Abari wasn’t actually serious, this would have been laughable. You would think that a doctor and the director of the National Orientation Agency, an agency that deals with media, would know that dreadlock and saggy pants are not a sign of moral delinquency or homosexuality. These are the people who are supposed to create policies that will better the lives of the generations after them, and he can publicly speak on how ‘baggy pants’ and ‘homosexuality’ brought by satellite television are a corruption of their values.
Elections are in less than two years, so this rhetoric will only intensify in the coming months. We write this so at no point are you suckered in and you know this exactly for what it is, the start of yet another election cycle.