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Failure of Northern Elders

By Donu Kogbara
ACCORDING to elder statesman, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, who was once our Permanent Representative at the United Nations, the current Northern leadership has failed woefully because it has neglected the legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Sardauna and Premier of Northern Nigeria.

Maitama Sule recently made these comments at a workshop for youths and claimed that the Sardauna’s ability to nurture both Muslims and Christians was one of the factors that had made the North a force to be reckoned with.

Consensus-north

In an article that was written earlier on this week by my Vanguard colleague, AbdulSalam Muhammad, Sule was quoted as having said that he remembered the Sardauna helping to form the Northern Association of Christians of Nigeria, which later went national and became the Christian Association of Nigeria.

Ethnic bigotry

He reminisced about a time when the North was, in his view, devoid of religious or ethnic bigotry…and sadly informed his audience that the Sardauna’s dream – that Nigeria would be fully developed by l980 – had not been realised.

He claimed that Sardauna died a pauper, didn’t have a bank account or shares in any company and was so very different from today’s “treasury looters”.

I am not sure that everything this fine Old School gentleman said can be historically authenticated. But I can feel his sorrow when he mournfully expressed a yearning for leaders who are “generous, kind and patriotic.”

I wish I could cheer Sule up by assuring him that this country will change significantly in the near future. But I do not believe that a superior status quo is imminent. Frankly, the only horizon I see is a gloomy one. And I’ve abandoned all hope of the land of my ancestors fulfilling its potential in my lifetime.

Sule is right to berate Northern leaders for messing up. But Northern leaders are not, by a long shot, the only enemies of serious, high-octane progress.

Some Nigerian leaders are undoubtedly better than others. But ALL Nigerian leaders, Southerners included, are not doing nearly enough to drag we followers into the 21st century and enable us to enjoy the best possible existences.

The majority of Naija leaders are blatant thieves, incompetent morons, uninspiring mediocrities…and primitive, vision-less, plan-less or just plain lazy.

Too many of them squander their energies on ultimately futile political shenanigans or irresponsible partying – as in womanising and quaffing vast quantities of insanely expensive booze. Too many of them are reluctant to doggedly concentrate on their duties and responsibilities.Too many of them allow their wives, girlfriends, cronies and relatives to massively misbehave.

Even the few who are smart, well-intentioned and willing to control their acolytes are too easily distracted and pretty disorganised and unproductive compared to their counterparts in the Western world.

The worst thing about an
amoral and toxic environment (in which integrity is in short supply and power is routinely abused) is that such societies and systems rarely reward decency or talent, make fools of individuals who aren’t crooks or half-wits and eventually, at the end of the day, corrupt almost every citizen.

I have watched Nigerians – who are not naturally dishonest, cynical, greedy or treacherous – wearily or angrily deciding, after they’ve endured multiple frustrations, that it’s best to join “Them” if one cannot beat “Them”.

I weep silently when I see poets, actresses, artists, activists and academics practically kneeling down for guys who are only “important” because they stole money that belongs to the general public or got away with rigging elections.

I have personally experienced the negative consequences of NOT stealing government funds when the chance to do so arose (please note that instead of praising me for keeping my fingers out of the till, people irritably or mockingly accused me of idiocy and refused to help me when I needed help, on the grounds that it was my “fault” that I didn’t have ill-gotten millions stashed away).

ANYWAY, Maitama Sule has made some valid points; and, at the risk of sounding sectional, I would like to ask Northern leaders who have been chronically failing for decades why they think they can out-perform President Goodluck Jonathan.

I grant you that Jonathan’s
regime has been disappointing. But what evidence is there to suggest that a Northerner will be any less disappointing?

Colonial authorities

Why, to cut a long story short, are Northerners so doggedly convinced that they will be morally entitled to take over from Jonathan if he loses the next election?

In 2010, when Nigeria was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Independence from British colonial authorities, the Presidency had been controlled by Northerners for 38 out of 50 years. And I don’t recall any Northern Head of State performing spectacularly when Northerners were ruling the roost.

So what is all this sanctimonious and hypocritical wahala about how Jonathan has screwed up so badly that we need a Northerner to rescue us from misrule?!


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.