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Northernising Poverty

FOR some time, there have been cries about the poverty in the North. Summits have been held, some funds raised to reverse the trend, and another mega summit staged to draw attention to the damage drought was doing to the North’s economy.

None of these measures, including a political event, where everyone who sought recognition claimed to subscribe to the thoughts of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna Sokoto. His legacies of development have been ruined by the common thread of waste by many of those who came after him.

By some accounts, Southern Nigeria’s 72-year advantage over the North in the commencement of Western education is partially responsible for the North’s poverty, some call it backwardness. At some of those summits, Northern leaders traded blames over their roles.

The biggest challenge that faces programmes that aim at tackling poverty, for instance, is that the promoters see them as shows, opportunities to make news headlines. They are nothing more. How many poverty alleviations programmes have governors and their wives launched? Have these minimised poverty in any appreciable way?

It is deceitful to launch newer programmes like Madrasah, which Minister of State for Education, Hajiya A’ishatu Jubril Dukku said was targeted at seven million street children called almajiri. What happened to nomadic education? How would this programme differ from others that failed to recognise that almajiri has cultural and religious components that affect how parents and guardians appreciate formal education?

When this programme helps street kids in the North what about those in other parts of the country? Will we launch different programmes for them? Would curing poverty in one part of the country immunise other parts against poverty?

Failure of government rests squarely on its lack of political will to anchor its programmes on the provisions of Section 14 2 (c) which states that, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Which government has applied this section in its policies since 1999?

Nigerian governments do not respect the Constitution, or laws like the Child Rights Act which provides for education, health care of the child and abolishes unhealthy practices like child labour and child marriages.

After the National Assembly passed this law, many States are reluctant to adopt it. The law, contrary to the constitutional provisions that federal laws apply in all the States, is being passed through different State Houses of Assembly, some of which have rejected it, pleading interference with their religion and culture.

Northernising poverty minimises the scope of the challenges, stigmatises the North and deludes others that they are better than the North.

Every State should implement the provisions of the Child Rights Act. It is a more sustainable way to tackle the social upheaval when millions of today’s children become adults without educational skills to help them access the technology driven opportunities.


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