To those chaps on social media in Nigeria forming “conservative northern men” re: Aisha Ahmad‘s nomination as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, here’s what to do. When she formulates policy and gives directives, feel free to refuse to comply or feel the effect. Only then will I know you truly have virile penises.
The present conservatism is disturbing only because of its pretence. The idea that a generation of young educated men from the north would speak as if they believe any strict homogeneity exists in the region can only be a deliberate pretence. Sadly, this is the pretence that fuels fanaticism and extremism.
The north has always had its variety and flexibility. Your fathers curried the favourable intervention of Rupert East’s Fulani wife not seventy years ago. Your own grandmothers would laugh you out of your minds and then curse and divorce you if you tried half what you try with your sisters and wives each day. And even today, you must feel the pressure from the number of women in the region who call you out, new voices being added each day. And you think the way forward is to put your head in the sand eh? Listen to me, the women are here to stay and they will be your colleagues, your bosses, and there is nothing you can do about it, if they have the stuff upstairs. That is the only arena that counts. So you too can shine. That is where you should do battle, not becoming a tailoring consultant or a dealer in headscarves.
I do not care to defend Aisha Ahmad. I thank her only for demonstrating exactly what the inclusive, cosmopolitan spirit of central Nigeria is–it is the attacks on this inclusivity that I mourn when I am sad about my hometown, Jos, for example. And I wish her the very best at her new role in the Central Bank.