North in Nigeria: Lost Values & Political Issues


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North in Nigeria: The Lost Values And The Political Issue




Paul Mamza



January 15, 2005


This subject of discourse is very timely and critical in this our time, and it’s a paramount issue to be critically addressed in order to forestall purposeful leadership direction for the future of the northerners. However, leadership in a given community, nation, state or race/tribe(s) compose the feeling of vision, mission and direction or front by which the visionary leader aims to guide his/her people to the promised land. For the Northern region, the region was fortunate to have a visionary leader who conceptualize scientific method in nurturing and developing other recruits to carry on the leadership vision. Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto of blessed memory visionized the type of leadership methods for the northern region as well as the entire country. This he epitomized in stages of leadership, recruits in his drive to lay down a fundamental principle of northernization as a concept and ideology. Thus, the discourse of this paper will focus on the following; Northern unity

The future of the Northerners in a fast growing unity-in-diversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and whose responsibility to move, facilitate and further consolidate northern unity and its future goals. The issue of northernization, not withstanding, was perceived, articulated and further conceptualized with depth vision and scope of futuristic development of the Northern region by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the first Northern Premier. His untimely death frustrated the leadership vision and scope whereby, for the 1st three decades, the north is still searching for a principled and selfless leader to leads its course. Ahmadu Bello’s leadership projection emanated from his preparation for self-government after the British colonial might have gone.

This decolonization process, in practical terms, means not only transfer of political power but has to do with the state-of-the art on positioning oneself to accommodate the complexity and vigour of administrative science or skill. Bearing in mind at that time and also in current social-political context, the northerners had limited access to English-Language training and Western education in regards to civil service.

The Sardauna of Sokoto made it imperative, as one of his northernization policy, to ensure that the British officers who will be leaving will be replaced by educated, capable and dedicated northerners. As such, the visionary leader looked to the youth as pool to be persuaded, encouraged and developed in order to build a virile formidable future leaders for the north. This northern youth were categorized based on their age bracket in order of succession and continuity of leadership vision and direction in the drive to achieve northernization as a principle and ideology (all-encompassed and all-inclusive). (Paden, 1986). The first generation of northern civil servants are those born between the age bracket of 1910-1919 that la ter came as a pioneer in the civil service in early 1940s.

The pioneers of this generation are Abubakar Imam, Ahmadu Coomassie who masterminds the mass literacy campaign in the north called "War Against Ignorance" (Yaki da Jahilci). Ahmadu Coomassie primary focus on literacy drive happened to realized same factors that are inhibiting northerners to the quest to education. These factors or symbols, as it should be known, are "Lalaci-Laziness and Sakarci-bad conduct". These factors are further compounded by the northern elites who do not wish the northern youth being educated. One will admit that the northern youth today are educationally driven and intelligent to the acquisition of knowledge and other skills. But the poverty rate in the northern region further exercabated the youth inability to further their education. To contain this "Yaki da Jahilci" in the north as well as curbing "Lalaci-Laziness" and "Sakarci bad conduct" from the psyche of northern youth. The northern political elite as well as private entrepreneurs should institute scholarship board for sponsoring the education of the northern youth that are less privileged.

The Second generation of northern civil servants itemized for further leadership development are those in the age bracket between 1920s- 1924. This category will fully mature in the skill, management and state-of-arts in administrative science in 1950s. At this stage, they will begin to assume major responsibilities that will later result in putting them at the level of senior bureaucrats in the 1960s due to their firm discipline and commitment. These personalities are Muhammad Gujbawu (1921), Ibrahim Argungu (1922), Abba Jiddum Gana (1922), Dr. Abdul Atta (1922) and Ibrahim Dasuki (1923) respectively. The third generation called "The young men" of civil servants were those generation born between the age bracket of 1930-34 and those 1935-1939. This later generation are considered, according to the northernization policy, to form a wave of development in the civil service because of their higher education experiences. It was assumed that this third generation will represent a new perspective on northern development and on the pace of change. Thus, the early "third generation" would include I.J.D. Durlog (1930); Liman Ciroma (1930) Ahmad Joda (1930); Hassan Lemu (1930) Abubakar Kigo (1930); J.A. Aberibigbe (1931); Sunday Awoniyi (1932); Adamu Ciroma (1934); Yusuf Gobir (1934) and any of this contemporary.

While the late "third generation" would include; Gidado Idris (1935); Musa Bello (1936); Muhammad S. Kangiwa (1936); Abubakar Koko (1937); Mahmud Tukur (1939) and Saidu Barda (1939) and many others. From the foregoing visionary leadership structure for the aspiration and realization of the Sardauna of Sokoto northernization policy and ideology. The third generation however, were expected to actualize and further consolidate this leadership focus and direction. This is due to their advantages on the acquisition of university education and also experience in the accelerated training programs. They were considered as a "radical" pressure group for change vis-à-vis the Sardauna projection. Education was the primary source of achieving the vision of northernization. As such Ahmadu Bello structured a full pyramid of educational institutions in the north, from primary schools through university as an impressive challenge.

Thus, the development of primary schools is largely a matter of resources, teacher-training facilities, and identification of curricular priorities. This further illustrated by the quality of education achieved in the north at early independence period. The Sardauna was conscious of the essence of education in the realization of northernization policy. This was mentioned in his speech titled "The Need for Higher Academic Standards and Moral Tone in School", delivered at the Government College, Zaria in 1963, urging the northerners to critically examine their education plight and shape their future destiny. He further emphasized that: … "I note with deep regret that one of those schools which have failed to rise to the occasion and set the pace and standard of high academic attainment is my alma mater. Last year (1962), 50 percent of the boys of this college who took the West African School Certificate Examinations failed.

If I may ask, you, staff and boys of Government College, Zaria why must you lag behind? You have a great history behind you. Many of the leaders of the country are Old Boys of this College, you must wake up from your slumber and pull your weight. This reprimand is equally applicable to many of our secondary schools. You have wonderful opportunities. You must take them. If you let them pass, you will never have them again. You may wonder why I should say that you have wonderful opportunities and that if you let them pass, you will never have them again. The explanation is simple. This great demand for secondary school leavers will not continue indefinitely. There will come a time when secondary school educational qualification will not be enough to gain you a good job. Perhaps by the time the lowest forms pass out of school, they may be faced with very fierce competition for well-paid jobs. Perhaps by that time most if not all the executive grades, the intermediate grades in the public service, would have been filled. And all well-paid jobs might require higher academic and professional qualifications. There will be no room for idlers and care-free passengers in our school who have no ambition, no intention to be ambitions. I hope you do now appreciate what I mean when I say you have wonderful opportunities. If you fail to take full advantage of your education now, you may live to regret it for the rest of your lives." It should be emphasized here that the Sardauna of Sokoto future planning for his northernization policy was primarily based on education as a means for human resources building. In other words, realization of northern future is nothing but a further step to educate the northern youth. This conceived noble idea was later derailed by the demise of the Sardauna which later left leadership vacuum in the north. The assertiveness of the Sardauna in leading his entire community in the twentieth century was never been replaced by those generations assumed to lead the northernization vision. Rather the policy of northernization was replaced by self-centeredness, materialistic northern bureaucrats and ineptitu de of top northern military brass without focus and direction of leadership quality, contrary to the Sarudauna’s futuristic vision on his northernization policy. The urgency of the training programs and university education for the third generation was to catch up with their Southern counterparts in terms of administration, development and industrialization of the north. Displacement of original goal of northernization The recent communal clashes- be it religious or interethnic conflict emanated as a result of leadership failure, ignorance and a total denial of political accessibility of resources management. Many argued that the suspension of the country’s constitution may also be one of the major factor of the conflict. Similarly, the principle of divide-and-rule applied by the subsequent military regimes led to the creation of miniature regional, communal, clan, religious and feudal oligarchies. The ordinary cit izens was finally neglected through denial of his/her social rights in terms of education, social facility, health and economic gains within the national politics. Politics however, was later degenerated to the narrow definition as "a means to personal enrichment" rather than to serve the community. Ordinary Nigerians have no choice but to fall back on their ethnic or religious groups as the basis for their emotional identity. Maladministrative drive and total mismanagement of national resources by the deliberate promotion of "policy of exclusion" for the last three decades, some argued that, these factors led to why and how identities change and people of the same community or region begin to see themselves as being deprived because of ethnic, class or religious affiliation. The relative deprivation theory assert that a people’s capacity for revenge through the means of violence is contingent on the result of the comparison it makes with others, meaning, if a community perceives that another community is being favoured at their own expenses rebellion becomes a natural response. The primary objective of building a dynamic, foresight and visionary leaders was deluded by the sudden intervention of the untrained civil servants into the helms of affairs (power politics). The vision of leadership projection conceptualized by the Sardauna of Sokoto was to build a virile civil servants with a sound educational standard that will begin to implement the policies of development in the north. Similarly, the vision aim to help identify and train subsequent northern generation. This is because, consistence in policy implementation are of importance and thus paramount to the development of the north. The consequence of total deviation and abandon of the northernization vision was the effect of communal clashes-cum-religious conflict in the North and by extension in Nigeria. Those that assumed leadership roles rather believed to replace and promote the northernization v ision lacked the spirit of true leadership model. But they resulted to building up oligarchies and thus perpetrating injustice in the name of representation of the northerners into polity. In many states across the nation, representations of certain states or communities at the federal and state levels have been manipulated and domesticated within families and cronies. These are largely those who imposed overarching influence over the others by way of controlling the traditional authorities. The systematic politics of exclusion, is argued to the basis of communal-cum-religious conflict in the northern region as well as the country in general.

THE WAY FORWARD: Let us acknowledge our general failure in the wholistic approach of the philosophy of leadership and responsibility. As such, to bring about revitalization of northern unity and re-focus its future direction and aspiration is to set aside trivial issues and collectively restructure the mind-set of the ruling class. Rejuvenating the afore mentioned northern education standard set forth by Sardauna of Sokoto, stand as a paramount policy, that the 19 Northern states should pursue. Its virile civil service standard, skill and its disciplinary model, its selflessness in administrative performance and its legacy on war against laziness and bad conduct in both private and public sphere should be re-kindled. Re-awakening the philosophy of northernization as a collective approach and commitment will see the northern future a prosperous one. But putting personal interest as against general one will further exacerbate the existing situation we are today. Achieving these policy objectives of development, will enable the north to set forth its drive for technological and industrial development. The era of praise-singing and the interplay of ruling elite and their sycophants of yester years is however obsolete. Rather the north is confronted with number of scientific, technological and material challenges that require a pragmatic and proactive approach. The north is in urgent need of visionary leader with foresightedness. In order to project a meaningful direction. The inter-ethnic conflict will further deteriorate the vision of northernization which will never yield us any benefit but backwardness and retrogression vis-à-vis our southern counterparts. The mindset of the northern elite should be refocussed to this vision of northernization rather than emphasis on personal aggrandizement and arrogance. The essence of leadership is responsibility not a privilege for class status or suppression of the weaker ones. Leadership goes with ultimate task of executing a certain itemized futuristic plans not as a status s ymbol or pride.

Conclusion: All hope is not lost in achieving the said vision and focus, for in the interim the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), an umbrella for all northerners and the nineteen northern governors forum offers a promising loci. As earlier mentioned in my column of May, 27, 2001, "North must unite" the two fora "with all its limitations and shortcomings (if any) remains and will remain the authentic voice and dream of the North". It is the perceived lack of unifying platform and the imagined or real shambles in our ability to act, along a common cause that enabled some ‘sit-tight’ politicians to exploit the various permutations for their personal ambition through divide-and-rule tactics. Now is the time for all well-meaning northerners to put all hands on deck and set aside differences towards the rejuvenation of the region, for it is apparent that it is not only the usually ‘intruding lizard’ that had its way through the ‘shambling wall’ but also the normally ‘harmful crocodile’.



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