For The North To Succeed


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2007: For The North To Succeed




Paul Mamza



February 4, 2005


Events had passed under the bridge, massaging -egos were staged under some keenly eyes and the basis of strength in diversity eroded at the altar of sickening perfidies. Northern Nigeria, no doubt had become a theatre of absurdity since 1999. It does not mean that the region had no such emblematic translation of the internal contradictions of the Nigerian State, before this time, but 1999 to date marked the manifestation of such distraught with guile and sophistication. One can recall that it is only during the tenure of the late Premier of the Northern Nigeria that the region experienced relative political consolidation and irreproachable peaceful tranquility.

Now that the politicians who in the first instance, created the dis-affectionate contentions are burying their hatchets probably as temporary solutions to secure back power to the region in 2007, there’s the need to re-examine the core values that offered the North an earlier superiority in politics, with the need of appraising its plausibility.


The core values that symbolised North’s dominance in politics are self-less and exemplary leadership, pitching tent with the truth and show of mutual respect and love for each other. The tripartite qualities listed above are synonymous with Northern norms and values being exploited to dominate the political terrain.


However, with the advent of military rule spiraling coups and counter-coups within the Northern circle of officers; sensibilities were manipulated to suit the ambitions of military officers, the consequence is that the northern society became tools in the hands of the military manipulators. The politicians that came after them extended the conquest along ranging dimensions; primordial sentiments substitute ideologies and uncompromising bitter contentions replaced rational negotiations. The more populated the region became, the less effective its ability to gather a momentous approach. The once strong, virile and dynamic North became weak and impotent politically. While other regions manage their flashpoints in secrecy, Northern Nigeria of recent takes its conflict-resolution mechanism to the market place. It is sad.


Here is a region that had produced eight heads of governments in Nigeria with five still alive, a region with array of wealthy and influential politicians, accomplished military and civilian officers still wallowing in abject poverty, stark illiteracy, low awareness level and minimal agenda setting. Most of the infrastructure developments and enduring legacies were constructed during the first republic era under Sir Ahmadu Bello the late Premier of the Region. The fifteen year development plan that was designed by the late premier which is suppose to propel the region to compete favourably within the framework of national competition in areas of education, commerce, politics, military, Para-military, bureaucracy, finance, law and administration was abandoned immediately after his (Premier) death on 15th January, 1966. The once vibrant and industrious region became a burden to the nation. Here is a region with vast human and natural resources –the North’s natural exploits includes livestock and agricultural production, mineral deposits and even oil in some quantities –being devastated by conflicts, lack of proper appropriateness, out-right abandonment and self-inflicted miseries. Desperate advocates had in the midst of these betrayals, gone to town with deadly superciliousness subjugating the geography and politics to mutilate the pangs of the history of the North by propelling a leprous notion along tribal, religious and sectional device.


Some people were simply drowned by a kind of etherealised–phobia to falsefully iconise a superior judgment without far-reaching recourse to basic objectively and others, adopting the wisdom of humdrums to alert fears that ‘slaves’ are becoming ‘masters’, and ‘masters’are fast turning into ‘slaves’, as if there was a any slave or master at the first instance. Let us examine the salient issues as they are: conscious of the fact that Northern interest supersede any personal, sectional or communal interest, the late premier allowed justice, fairness, equity, merit and mutual respect to prevail while administering the region.


Politically, the region was consolidated along the doctrine of one north, one people and one destiny with transparency and trust both in words and in actions. Even when differences in ideologies persist as in the case of Mallam Aminu Kano-led Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU) and Chief Joseph Tarka-led United Middle Belt Congress(UMBC) there was no sharp disagreement on the fundamental issues of collective interest of Northern unity, progress and prosperity. Every body was a Northerner not Fulani, Nupe, Kanuri, Angas, Marghi, Hausa, Bachama and Gwari, Muslim or Christian. There’s complete sense of belonging anchored on justice by a God-fearing and hard working leadership. Sir Ahmadu Bello worked closely with the likes of Alh. Yusuf Maitama Sule, Chief Sunday Awoniyi and Chief Michael Audu Buba only as Northerners ready to achieve the aims and objectives of northern progressiveness rather than representing Hausa, Yoruba and Taroh or Muslims and Christians.


Chief Obafemi Awolowo- who was Sardauna’s major rival-had in his lifetime envied the premier’s giant stride in consolidating northern structures. But the same Awolowo would be amused in his grave that the south-west had taken-over the northern earlier position and late Sir Ahmadu Bello would be bemused by the systematic emasculation of the structures he laboured so hard and in the process lost his own life to install. Politicians for self-aggrandisement carried many misconceptions. Tribal warlords emerged, religious bigotry manifested and organising principles were threatened. Apart from Kanem – Bornu empire (made up of Borno and Yobe States) – where even civilisation based on religious values (Islam and Christianity) were established for more than a century before the advent of the 1804 Jihad led by Sheik Othman Dan Fodio and Christianity flourished alongside without religious irredentism –my nature home – town (Lassa) in Borno State had long before independence enjoyed good roads, schools, hospitals etc. courtesy of Christian missionaries. Lassa produced the first two professors from Borno State and in my family there’s inter-mixture of Islam and Christianity, Fulani and Marghi -virtually all the States are divided, sharply either along tribal lines or religious planes. It is not uncommon to hear people equating Hausa-Fulani group as Muslims as if there are no Hausa-Fulani Christians, and other tribes as Christians as if there are no Muslims in other tribes, even amongst elite. The same elite will equate American war as one against the Muslim world (Palestine, Iraq etc.) As if Palestine, Iraq or Arabs don’t have Christians or the fight against Liberia, Cuba, South Africa as persecution of Christians as if there are no Muslims in Liberia, Cuba and South Africa. Either by pretense or ignorance these under-achievable views fails to assert that it is war against humanity because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  Forgetting the fact that American’s Economic interest supercede any other primordial interest.  


It is this singular attribute of truth–telling that characterises a key factor of strength of the North in the earlier times not the otiose trivilisation of grave matters and sensationalisation of salient issues as erroneously perpetuated by today’s politicians and selfish individuals to deceive and lure the society for selfish interest. Left for me, let us tackle the socio-economic problems of the north like education, poverty alleviation before venturing into launching the region at the political centre stage. The thirty-five years of northern dominance in politics had tendered less effective effort in the region’s socio-economic emancipation and educational empowerment thereby upgrading poverty level in the North. Let us first nurse our wounds before tendering a benefiting disposure politically. This case of Plateau State is clearly a bastion of show of shame by the region where people living together for years carry daggers against each other’s throat whose cause is just a hidden hand of political profiteers.


No matter the offence of Chief Joshua Dariye just as what Chief Gani Fawehinmi said recently “Obasanjo is definitely hiding some truth from us on this matter, Plateau State”. We were first served with a menu that Governor Dariye abdicated his responsibilities while his state went on flames of ethnic rage and is culpable in the harrowing situation in the state but with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation’s recent release close to the expiration of the emergency rule imposed on the state and Federal Government’s Video-clips persuasion. Obasanjo’s actions earlier and now lack transparency in the matter and more than it meet the eyes. This is because the charges are issues bordering only on financial recklessness rather than the initial charges, which I believe is just a pitch in the dosage of financial crimes by most governors and even the presidency. Before this event, the Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman had alerted the nation on this matter and even the respected Transparency International depict such, by mentioning the seat of power as place where most corrupt practices flourish more. If the latest charges is what Dariye was humiliated for, it is not a good news, what will be a good news is that the search would be extended wide enough to cover all and sundry.


Based on these inconsistencies and double standards prominent Nigerians like General Yakubu Gowon –who initially refused to comment while studying the situation –throw in the towel to call for the re-instatement of democratic rule in Plateau State. That brings us to the wider attribute of the Northern concept, which requires a modest approach towards public funds. If the North did not abandoned its cherished attributes, people like Dariye and most current Governors and Senators would not have tasted power in the first instance but we are in the period of moral decadence, which needs restitution. I depicted such fears long before the advent of the present democratic model in a press release issued by Arewa Foresight Front –a youth organisation –co-signed by myself (Chairman) and Alhaji Tasiu Muhammad Ringim (Secretary-General).


Instead of providing temporary and hasty solutions to these fundamental of problems engulfing the region like the erosion of spirit of brotherhood, suspicion and betrayals of other core value that provides a solid Northern Solidarity front there is the need for the North to forget for now the patched clamour for political power at the centre by 2007. Let us extend our support for either a South–East or South-South Presidency in 2007 and use the ample time ahead to go back to the drawing board/political sickbed to genuinely strategise a more formidable approach to political leadership to avoid presenting a mediocre. Let that period be a period of sober-reflection, self-supplication and building rational consensus.


Let us collectively but with courage and convictions tackle our multi-faceted problems in a practicable way without recourse to the present situation where sentiments overtake reasoning and bad blood is gradually eroding the spirit of brotherhood.

Let us re-orientate ourselves once more to re-engineer our past glory where merit is the order, justice is the law and equity is the game.

Let us pursue the path of self-abnegation to relieve ourselves of the orgy of self – inflicted miseries and malignant retrogressions in order to demystify the mysteries behind our collective failures and perpetual misfortunes.

Let us rediscover the lost cherished matter of the proper North whose strength lies in the Omnipotence of God and His bountiful mercies. Let us dismantle the foundations of this our apparent pride- without – substance by instilling humility – with- value.

Let us inculcate the culture of hard work, devotion and skills – acquisition in this and future generations of Northerners in order to allow for favourable competitive contest.

Let there be a North that will research for hidden potentials in a practicable and beneficial manner. Let us denounce laziness, short cuts and material worships.

Let a new North be born based on new hopes in the changing dynamism of world politics and its power-game. Power in world politics is quantifiable only on technological scale; let the North invest in the pursuit of qualitative and sustainable education in order to survive the technological power play that has dominated world trends.

Let the privileged class ask not what the region will do for them but inquire on what they can do for the region.

Let us for once gauge our emotions and illfeelings and embrace the respect for our mutual cultures and that of other Nigerians in order to allow peace and prosperity to reign in North and Nigeria.

Let us pontificate on why the injustices meted on our fellow Northerners such as; General Ishaya Bamaiyi and Co. along with that on General Muhammadu Buhari during the last feast of electoral scavengery called the Presidential elections treated with mere watch and hypocritical pretentions.    


Temporary and hasty advocates like Northern Governors or re-grouping faceless or even barefaced youth organisations can secure power to the North but after success, managing success is more desirable. More so, the Governors are politicians and most of the youth organisations are tools in the hands of politicians. The varying camps of political, ethnic and religious disenchantments need to be wipe away completely through a practical and discernable approach of enlightenments, persuasions and negotiations in order to offer a consensus candidate that every Northerner will be proud of, in terms of quality of character, moral conduct and political savvy. It is worthy to note without prejudice that we have a long way to go in order to sincerely establish the basis for the mandate. The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) –a non-partisan group should be allowed to serve as a buffer to these mediator roles with active participation of all and sundry –be it political leaders, traditional rulers, businessmen. For the North to succeed, the surest way is to take this humble advise with large heart before the national feast coming up in 2007. It should resist any temptation by other regions to convince  it now until 2011 or 2012 as the case may be.




Mamza writes from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria



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