Charles Dickson urges northern leaders to do more for their people
“When a people have suffered for too long, they will drink fairytales on fairylands with insatiable gullibility.” (Hamilton Ayuk)
I had written on the topic Northern Nigeria and her mythical realities some four years ago. As with many things Nigerian, those that should listen, never do, those that should do something are never bothered. So again let me remind us peradventure.
The North may be the truth, or falsehood, call it nonsense, be bitter or be complimentary about it, I really do not care–or better still I care enough to tell us the way I see it. And it is a do-no-favours essay. The words of Malcolm X sums up my next few paragraphs. “You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”
The myth–Aboki is supposedly an Hausa term that is used to describe the man up North. He may be Hausa, Nupe, Berom, Fulani, Shua, but largely he is ignorantly Hausa to all and poor; he is either mai-guard (gateman), mai-ruwa (water), mai shai (tea), mai-doya (yam), mai-reke (sugarcane), mai-miaa (black market fuel); whatever he is, he just has to be mai-something or mai-everything. He is a symbolism today to other Nigerians of violence and false face of Islam. He is ‘misunderstandingly’ understood…to this add the herdsmen narrative.
Then we have the Alhaji, he is everything above except that he is presumed rich, and in recent times dangerous too, he could be a sponsor of Boko Haram too. But for a ‘typical’ southerner, there is the allure of his riches whether via politics, oil, or ‘voodoo,’ who cares? He is there in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos. He really doesn’t care about his North; he is a hypocrite to the core without his knowledge. He has done almost nothing for his home state whether Kano, Borno, Zamfara or Plateau other than milk it where possible.
Now to more of those mythical realities and issues, that has left a region on her knees. No other time than now has the North faced an identity crisis and fight within herself. Who are the Hausas, who are the Fulanis, and how about the Hausa- Fulanis? What really is the place of the Islam North, real, media creation and how about the Christians in the North in specific terms, Hausa Christians, Fulani born Again?
Is the North still united, as was the case? What about her oligarchy and a few leftist socialist activists that set the talakawa agenda, what happened? What is it that needs to be understood about the alamanjiri system and institutional begging in the North?
Is it really about marginalization and if indeed, who marginalized who, Abacha, Shagari or IBB, Yar’adu or Buhari, what did we really do with power, one which we have held on to but remain largely economically and educational defunct and marginalized.
The North and the agitating Middle Belt is an emotional wreck, a perfect picture of an abused bride, which today is even afraid of a hug of reconciliation, with rehabilitation and reconstruction a far cry. We are chasing Igbos out because they demand secession, restructuring, fiscal federalism, etc. If the North decides to go away from Nigeria, will the other component part fight to keep it and would it be really 19 states? Is Plateau State North when there’s no love lost between the Plateau people and the North? Does Taraba believe in North, Southern Kaduna, parts of Nassarawa, Benue, Kogi, etc.?
People still believe that up North we are all empty land mass and goats, unproductive, and leeching termites stuck on Nigeria because of the oil. If not, why the hue and cry of an erratic false Jewish Messiah called Kanu? When Zamfara’s mines are gold for the asking and we could develop a self-sufficient and exportable agrarian community?
When stories of precious stones litter the grounds of Plateau, Nasarawa or the rich Mambila Plateau. What is the Arewa ideology? What does Ango Abdullahi, Ibrahim Babangida, Atiku Abubakar and the rest stand for?
Everyone is on a blame ride, but as ‘Northerners’ have we blamed brother T.Y. Danjuma, or IBB, Mallam Lamido, Dr. Babangida Aliyu or Rev. Yuguda and ministers, legislators, and their ilks. What examples have they set? Dangote is the richest, and we boast of the poorest communities.
So much is wrong with the North–I challenge my brothers from Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara, etc., to tell me two companies that make N30 million a month after salaries are paid and utilities are sorted.
What really have the likes of Ango, Buhari, IBB, Abdulsalam done in real terms to galvanise the economy of the North, one whose crumbling was facilitated by the insecurity unleashed on the region by religious fanaticism aided by our elitist refusal to educate and empower our people.
A huge army of unemployed youths in the North ready and willing to be used, points to the fact that there was urgent need for the revival of the Northern economy and job creation. But how are we doing that, other than power flexing our birthright mentality?
How many Ashaka/Larfarge cement companies do we have in the North? NASCO in Jos is dead, funeral rites only being delayed. Same for the Kaduna textiles industry despite all the promissory notes of Nasir el-Rufai.
What and where have the billions of 17 years gone to in the North? Universities out of private initiative litter the South, and up here what are we doing, joining issues with Biafra, and ranting while we should do the needful.
The North has equally failed“to give her people opportunity, education and resolve conflicts through regular democratic processes”. “In terms of human capital and young people, I think the greatest investment any country can make, not just an African country, is educating its youth and providing them with the skill to compete in a highly technological, advanced world economy”. Nigeria has failed in this regard and the North has woefully crashed in same vein.
The North will rise again. How, if I may ask, by threatening a lame-duck Kanu and Biafra that has no price, or priding ourselves that we can stand when we have refused to start standing.
The South-West despite Bola Tinubu’s crookedness is chasing a semblance of regional integration; the South- East and South-South are not left out. States have even gone ahead to use their emblem and are creating identities. We are still seen as Fulani herdsmen asking for reserves on other peoples’ lands and seeking nomadic education because we can’t do regular school.
We need to bash ourselves, the larger North, the smaller Arewa needs to stop lying to itself and her people. There are current realities, where do we fit into it?
I will end this admonition in the words of one of the problem sons of the North, TY Danjuma, “We need to think more, pray more, plan more, work harder, relate better, and talk less. Battles are better fought and won through wisdom and strategy than through inflammable pronouncements and political tantrums.” This is to the North but it does apply to Nigeria, the current hate quotient is high – for how long, only time will tell.
Dr. Dickson is a Freelance journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org