By Adisa Adeleye
I WAS born in the Northern part of Nigeria (Jos, now the capital of Plateau State) some decades ago. As my name reads, my parents (both) were from the Southern part of the country (South Western zone). My primary education took place in two different schools run by Christian institutions.
My father (who died in 1958) told me that he and his friend (Mallam Nasidi, a Northerner) trekked to Jos from Bida (now in Niger State) about the year 1912. After a short stay, they moved back to Bida, doing all sorts of jobs on the way unmolested.
The two friends later returned to Jos around 1922, where they stayed permanently till death separated them. They became prosperous traders and built houses. It was discovered that members of my father’s friend family saved my father‘s properties during the crazy destruction by the ethnic and religious vandals in Jos.
I left the North (Jos) for the South for my Secondary education and have remained there except for the delightful periods when I worked in the North (Kaduna, now Kaduna State capital), Warri (now in Delta State) and Port Harcourt (now Rivers State capital). My stay in Kaduna as Area Manager of a ‘big‘ organization introduced me to the varied and beautiful scenery that made the delightful panoramic view of Northern Nigeria.
I could say that I have travelled extensively throughout the areas which constitute the present nineteen states of the north. The rural areas were picturesque, while the people were fantastic, extremely friendly and hardworking (Agriculture). My sojourn in Warri and Port Harcourt were pleasant excursions into the Delta and South Eastern areas of the country.
In the Niger Delta riverine areas, I watched with painful conscience the struggle of human beings attempting to eke out a dangerous living in an environment far from being friendly. Yet, the people were friendly, jovial and pleasant, especially to strangers.
The Ibos, as usual, were sturdy, steady and hardworking. The village life into which I was introduced indirectly (through disappearance of some of my staff in Port Harcourt every Friday afternoon) provided a life of tranquillity and relaxation necessary for the turbulence of a city life.
Personality and immense love
I believed then, that the true friendship of the Igbo personality and the immense love towards a stranger is found in the ‘village. Palm-wine was served gleefully with its purity undisturbed. The ‘kola-nut‘ was a symbol of total submission to the concept of peaceful co-existence and trust.
However, some Igbos of the urban centers appear to be of a different specie who like a newspaper columnist, in a moment of indiscretion, would look at the Yoruba and Northerners as conspirators to rub the Easterners of their oil, wealth and greatness.
The sketch of my life experience describes vividly the spirit of peaceful existence amongst Nigerians at that period. It tells also the success story of the 20th century in the social history of Nigeria. However, the first decade of the 21st century appears to me as a dark period of destabilization and revenge – a tortuous journey towards political and economic instability.
Though there were riots (for various reasons) in many Nigerian cities in the 1990s, yet these were quickly and successfully controlled.However, the political, religious and ethnic disturbances of the first decade of this century were of such magnitude that the future of Nigeria seems to be in jeopardy.
Compensations to many victims of southern origin were neither assessed nor paid. The 20th century grappled with the problem of political instability and tried to solve it through the creation of states to allay the fears of the minorities. Rather than re-examining the structure of the 36 states already created, the 21st century funny politicians are clamouring for the creation of more states to add to the existing woes of the country.
While sympathy goes to the protagonists of creation of new states, realities of general prosperity should be the determining factor in any state creation exercise. The allurement of free monthly allocation in a federal system of government needs to be critically examined.
If substantial economic and political progress became visible in the 20th century (under Peace and Order), it is now very necessary that the prevailing century should exude peaceful tendencies. Therefore, all efforts should be directed towards the ending of the dangerous and disastrous Boko Haram insurgency. It is not a case of calling on the Federal Government alone to ensure security in the Northern part of the country; it is a clear responsibility of all Nigerians to work with the central authority.
It would be unfortunate if the general security of the nation is left alone in the hand of a single political party which has not in the past shown enough capacity and capability in handling serious national issues. If is possible to achieve an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence at home, the external forces will respond in terms of investment, aid and partnership to uplift the economy. Under this peaceful atmosphere, serious efforts would be expected in the fields of power supply and infrastructural developments.
It has been suggested in many quarters that in a situation where the economy is dormant and unemployment is rife, it would be necessary to stimulate effective demand through the injection of funds into the economy. It is known that fructification of “consumers‘” pockets would affect positively the demand for goods produced at home by those who have lower taste for foreign goods (low income earners).
Some believe also that the creation of State Police might increase the level of employment in the country. The huge amount of funds (unaudited) allocated to security votes of every state could be used in supporting a good number of Police recruits whose main job would be directed towards securing peace and preventing criminal activities.
The argument of political use of the police to harass opponents by State Governors does not arise since the present system where the Nigerian Police is under the present Federal Government does not imply that the Federal Government uses the Police to oppress political opponents. The duty of a state police is to enhance security and prevent crime.
I am still of a firm belief that in an atmosphere of insecurity, political instability and economic uncertainties (under punishing monetary policies), high unemployment and infrastructural decays, it is futile (as it has shown) to rely on a single political party to provide the magic. The reasonable option left to good leadership is through shared responsibilities in a genuine national government.