The Emir of Kano, Sanusis Lamido Sanusi, few days ago threw a bombshell when he said the northern part of the country, as a region was on the path of destruction if it does not change. He spoke in Kaduna at a programme to commemorate the 60th birthday celebration of Governor Nasir el-Rufai. He said 87 percent of poverty in Nigeria is in the north with millions of northern out-of-school children while nine states in the north are contributing almost 50 percent of the entire malnutrition burden in the country.
According to him, “the rest of the country cannot be investing, educating its children, producing graduates and then they watch us, they can’t get jobs because they come from the wrong state when we have not invested in the future of our own children”.
Sanusi therefore declared that “if the north does not change, the north will destroy itself”.
What does the north as an entity therefore needs to do in order to avert this looming destruction as predicted by one of its own influential leaders? What are those changes that must take place and what are those things the people of the north must do differently so that the region does not go into extinction?
Some northern leaders, while agreeing with the Emir on his position answered these questions even as they lambasted the past political leaders from the north for being responsible for the backwardness of the region.
By Charly Agwam
Alhaji Hussain Dambam, community leader
“The North needs to enact population control laws in all northern states to check uncontrolled population growth. The Emir was right, Nigeria’s population has been projected to be 400 million by 2050, and a large chunk of that population will be here in the North. If we refuse to do something about it now, we will be heading for an implosion. I think the North has to come together as a region to enact population control laws that will check unnecessary birth increase in the region. But first, our royal fathers must play the role of sensitizing their subjects on the benefits of having fewer children, especially in this period of economic hardship”.
Ismaila Ahmed, Bauchi leader
“Northern Nigeria has the potential to be an economic hub, like China and India if it engages its women and youths in productive ventures. I don’t see any sense in telling a man how many children he should have, it’s not realistic. We should instead, look inwards to see how we can engage our women and youths in productive ventures to develop our region and country. Look at what China and India are doing with their population. Many years ago, people thought that their population was a liability to the world but the reverse is the case today because they have industrialized their systems. Our problem is poor leadership and selfishness. For this set of northern leaders, it’s ‘me, myself and I’. If we have industries scattered across the region, nobody will be talking about destroying anything”
By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Chief Jethro Akun, former Deputy Governor of Plateau State
“What the North should do is to create more jobs to be able to accommodate the youths, we should unite and educate the people on the need to live together. The correct message from the holy books must be preached to dispel the feeling of those who think that if you kill, you will have a place in heaven, they are doing it out of ignorance.”
Salisu Nakande, former Minister of Information
“There is need to tackle headlong the issue of mass education for the people of the north. When we have education, then we will free ourselves from all the challenges of drug abuse, cultism, insurgency because if you don’t have education, even the insurgency itself gets recruits from the uneducated northern youth.”
Sani Mudi, Public Relations Officer, Ja’amatu Nasril Islam, JNI
“We have to look at the ills pervading the northern society which are illiteracy, ignorance and crippling poverty because people have refused to embrace hard work. We have thrown away the virtue of honesty, the virtue of living together as a family, this is very sad. If you look at it, it is only in the north that you see people building houses of N100million or even N1billion in a community that does not even have a primary school to take care of the young ones. One of the factors driving these people is frustration because they don’t have any hope in life.
The well-to-do have to search their conscience and ask themselves if they are doing the right thing. You have someone driving a vehicle of N50million and has a dozen of that in his house, even vehicles conveying his children to school are multi-million naira vehicles, why is that so? The well-to-do, the political elite in the north should ask themselves if they are doing the right thing and what they want posterity to remember them for. Once that is done, I think we will have proper focus on education, healthcare, micro-economy to sustain the people at the grassroots.
Why are we having all these conflicts? Because the people are not led in the right way, the elites are fuelling these conflicts simply to drive people away from asking questions about the atrocities they are committing. Sometimes you fight for no just cause, when you fight for someone to attain a position because of the false assumption that he is going there as a representative of the people but at the end of the day, what do you benefit as a community?
The people are being misled to believe that when you fight for someone’s ego, selfishness and arrogance, that you are fighting for yourself, you are wrong. People should be enlightened to know that we are in a modern world where people from other parts of the world can access the internet and see what is happening and the people relate with you based on what they are seeing on the internet.”
By Peter Duru
Chief Edward Ujege, Chairman of Benue State Tribal Leaders
The fact is that the North as a unit is not favorable to most northerners especially people who come from the middle belt. So it is even better that the north doesn’t exit anymore. We are all one Nigeria, we should first and foremost be Nigerians before the north. Every person should first be a Nigerian before we start claiming north.
I, as an individual do not believe in the element called north at the moment because equity and fair play is not there. So we should all teach ourselves to be Nigerians. Everybody, in whichever part of Nigeria you are, that should be our sing song. Like in America, Americans are Americans you can go and live in a place for six months and you become a citizen of that state. Why can’t we have something like that in Nigeria.
If you live anywhere within six months you should be recognized as an indigene of that state. And for that reason vie for any position in that place. That is what we should try to achieve in this country and not engage in politics of north, south, east and west. That is what we should strive to achieve, where every Nigeria will see himself or herself as a Nigerian first and foremost and not clinging to primordial sentiments of claiming to come from one section of the country or the other. That should also lead us to the point of ensuring merit and equity in the system to enable us forge ahead as an indivisible entity.
Dr. Pogu Bitrus, National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF
Many of us believe that the kind of indoctrination that is causing the people to behave the way they are behaving is basically lack of education. So if the north doesn’t fully embrace education and do it properly in a way that the youths will not be easily indoctrinated, then the north will destroy itself.
Secondly, there are policies that northern leadership like President Buhari is dishing out to the country. Today for the very first time Nigerians are telling the leader and Commander-in-Chief that his Service Chiefs are not doing their jobs and that the security in the country has collapsed but the man is holding on to this collapsed system. Something is wrong and if the north that produced and sponsored him to that place does not make him to change that kind of behavior the north will destroy itself and the country will equally be destroyed.
Furthermore we have been practicing quota system, I think that issue was also touched upon by the Emir at the occasion. I must say that quota system is not bad in itself since even America has affirmative action to assist disadvantaged people. It is effective at a stage when the right environment is produced and provided for. In Nigeria the north must strive to catch up with other parts of the country because when it is removed the north will be in for it. So you can see that there are so many parameters you can apply to look at the statement and I think the north has failed. Today many of the vices we are confronted with or the problems we are facing are due to the exploitation of ignorance. You talk of Boko Haram, you go and bring a doctrine and because they do not under stand the whole thing they say Islam is a religion of peace yet they are killing.
It means they are being easily indoctrinated. It is the problem of the north and the north has to do something about it. So there are lots of parameters which will require the north to rejig and recognize that we are not under a feudal system where you have a caliphate that is dictating to everybody else. That monolithic north ideology should stop because those of us who believe we are part of the middle belt will continue to tell them that we do not believe in this retrogressive monolithic north. We believe in progressive ideals which would move Nigeria forward. We don’t want to be part of this destructive tendencies, we want to be part of a progressive north and that is what we stand for.
By Femi Bolaji
Some leaders of thought in Taraba state have advocated behavioural change and more investment in education if Northern Nigeria would be free from the numerous challenges confronting it.
President General of Tiv Cultural and Social Association in Taraba state, Goodman Dahida pointed out that majority of the problems facing northern states are caused by both the people and government.
He said “on the side of the people, sometimes information about criminals are harboured and that is causing us a lot of problems in our communities. Communities need to change and stop hiding criminals. Government on the other hand is not sincere to the people. This is because anyone that has an opportunity to govern a state will be working for himself, his family and those he chooses to work for. This has caused mistrust between the leader and the led. To salvage the north from its security challenges, the government also has to be sincere. It now imperative for Northern governors to come together and agree that Northern states are facing the same problem of insecurity. This should be devoid of religious and political affiliation, because religion and politics have been dividing us for so long.”
On his part, President of Yoruba Community in Taraba state, Abdulhameed Olabintan stressed the importance of education as key to lasting peace in Northern Nigeria. According to him, “the problem in the North lies largely on the ignorance of parents.
A lot of children in Northern Nigeria are out of school and now that most of them are grown ups, they have to survive. Lack of education has made a lot of youths vulnerable to crimes and other vices. For this to change, the government must prioritise education. I believe if the people are more educated, they won’t be easily deceived to join criminal elements.
Also, there should be more collaboration between security agencies and local vigilantes to save northern Nigeria from bandits terrorising communities. This is because the police might not be able to flush out criminals from their hideout outs in the forest, whereas the local vigilantes and hunters know these terrains. We witnessed this in Taraba of recent. Communities also have a major role to play. Security agencies cannot do it alone because these criminals threatening our peace are humans and as such, communities have to be vigilant to fish out the bad eggs among them “
By Umar Yusuf
Mallam Usman Mai Lambu, retired Federal Permanent Secretary
The call by Emir Sanusi is a clarion call for the North to come together and solve their collective problems which have been lingering for long and the northern leaders were aware but there has been nobody to take “the bull by the horn”. The problems range from poverty, the menace of the Almajiris roaming the streets, educational disadvantage, under development, unemployment, the unending insecurity in the North East, kidnapping and banditry in the North West and Central Nigeria as well as communal clashes and ethnic feuds of cattle Fulanis.
“Emir Sanusi’s call was timely, but these problems bedeviling the North have been there for a long time, successive governments in the region have made little or no efforts to resolve them, hence they continue to linger and escalate. Another major problem confronting the North is lack of unity of purpose. The North is already polarized along ethnic and religious lines, the North that used to speak with one voice is already divided and can no longer speak as one”
Ignatius Alhassan, retired clergyman
The current confusion in the Presidency is another bad signal that the North has lost grip of its people.
How on earth can two prominent people of the North holding sensitive positions at the seat of government be at loggerheads. The worst irony is that the duo are from the north east presently under siege by the insurgency. The worst of it is that General Mongonu and Abba Kyari, the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Staff hail from Borno state. Insurgency is in their domain and it is alleged that their fight for supremacy is undermining the fight against insurgency. So, in a nutshell their personal gains or power is of more importance to them than that of the generality of the populace suffering from Boko Haram. The fight for supremacy by the two top Federal Officers of the North extraction is a disgrace to the North, the Presidency and the country at large. The duo should be sacked.
By Bashir Bello
North must address the army of Almajiri – Funtua
Coordinator, Journalists for Accountability Good Governance Initiative, JAGGI, Lawal Saidu Funtua said the North must address the issue of army of Almajiri (street urchins) which has been there for decades in the region. Funtua described the almajiri as readymade raw materials for any criminal activity and if it is not addressed, it can destroy the north.
According to him, “The Emir spoke the truth because if you look at it, over the years now, the issue of Almajiri has been with the north and it is getting worse. And these children are ready made raw materials for any criminal activities.The North must address this ugly trend if it doesn’t want it to destroy the region”.
By Nasir Danfulani, Zamfara
Malam Bashir Sanda Gusau, Managing Director, Sky Newspaper
“If our leaders have not been stealing our wealth, this section of the country would have been richer than any other part of Nigeria. We have natural deposits and large population at our disposal but our leaders are not utilizing this advantage.”
In his own reaction, the state leader of Friendly Society Network and human rights activist, Alhaji Nura Isa Moriki said the Emir of Kano was the only good thing that has happened to the north.
He explained that the emir was the only northern leader who has been advocating for the development of the north and that was why people were castigating him and calling him all sorts of names. His call on the northern leaders to come back to their senses was right.
By David Odama
Some residents of Nasarawa have said that the northern leaders should be held accountable for refusing to develop the region over time. Those who spoke to vanguard on the underdevelopment and slavery that have been allowed to rule the region said the northern Nigeria would have be the most developed part of the country, if the citizens were empowered and given the right direction and the leaders have not chosen to enslave others for their self-fishiness.
According to Kano born businessman, Isah Maikasua, the Northern leaders have misused the opportunities available to the region in the 60s thereby plunging the region into its present situation.
The increase in crime and criminality in the North was as a result of the weak foundation laid for the current youths by the successive administrations who failed to plan for the region. The people have the opportunity of embracing the western education but were denied such opportunity by the elites, and this is the result we are witnessing in the Northern region today.”
Alh. Abdullahi Adamu a resident in Karu Local Government who hails from Jigawa state, stated that the people of the north will not forgive the President Muhammadu Buhari if after eight years of his administration the lost glory of the northern region was not restored through the institutionalization of economic agenda to address the imbalance in the region. He said, “our desire now is to have an economic agenda put in place to address the challenges affecting the youths especially in the northern part of the country. President Buhari must rise to the challenges confronting the North, work hard to unite Nigeria and ensure proper integration of the North because the region has been so mismanaged for a long time.
By Wole Mosadomi
North should stop thinking leadership is their birthright——Vatsa
Former Spokesperson of All Peoples Congress, (APC) in Niger State Mr. Jonathan Vatsa said “for the North not to destroy itself, the people from the region should stop thinking that Leadership is their birthright. The moment Buhari finishes his tenure, the Presidency should shift from the North and go to the South and that will make other parts of the country to believe that they are also part of the country. We should know that Leadership is not the birth right of the North.
Though it was the opposition Party- PDP, that brought about Rotational Presidency, which they did in good faith so that there should be equity, there should be transparency and fairness. PDP introduced the Rotational Presidency not only at the Federal level because in some states today, the governorship is being rotated and this idea is bringing unity and harmony in various states of the Federation and that is making everybody to have a sense of belonging. So, the North should stop thinking that after President Buhari the next President is going to be a Northerner, it is a lie. This is one of the things that can destroy the North if care is not taken.
Secondly, the richest man in Nigeria is from the North and the poorest man in Nigeria is from the North. The elite must therefore use their wealth to develop their people in terms of education. They should stop thinking that they can send their own children abroad and come and be lord over these people. The world today is advancing in technology and the people they are thinking they will always like to dominate are today carrying arms so even their children they are sending abroad are not safe. They should therefore use their wealth accordingly and appropriately. They should have a Foundation to give free education to these Almajiris so that we can have a better Northern Nigeria. What we are seeing today are not the dreams of Sardauna and that is why we should change for the better in the North.
The West should remain grateful to Chief Obafemi Awolowo for giving them free education and he championed this to the end of his life and today, the West are where they are. The wealthy Northerners should start giving scholarships and free education to the northern children for their lives to change. In fact, we are safer if the illiterates in the north are educated and we should stop thinking of trying to create an animal farm where we can only be dominating the less privileged by giving them breakfast so that you can control them and when the morning is gone, you give them lunch and ask them to come back for dinner, that is criminal.
The poverty in Nigeria especially in the North is man made. We are blessed with land for agriculture and if we don’t send the children to school, there is no way they can have knowledge for modern agricultural technology. The rich Northerners and government should come out and take our people out of poverty instead of using their wealth to cater only for their immediate families.
We are really in trouble in the North if we refuse to change and what the Emir has said is nothing but the truth. One day, the people will revolt because revolution will come one day especially when the people have suffered enough and they don’t have what to eat. Security goes with education. We need to educate our people and by the time we give our people education, they will know the right from left. The Federal government also has a big role to play in not destroying the North and this is by providing adequate security at our borders with neighbouring countries especially in the north as most of these criminals are coming from these borders because they are porous.
No doubt, we have the most porous borders in the North and the only requirement you need to have to enter Nigeria from the north is to be able to speak Hausa and the second visa is to be a Muslim.
The Federal government only succeeded in curtailing the movement from Badagry, Seme and Idiroko but what of the borders in the north that don’t even have posts and these are the routes of these militants. Honestly, elites in the north must wake up if not, these same children and bandits will come after them if they don’t have anything tangible doing.
I advise the governors, senators and other politicians to stop breeding thugs especially during elections and dumping them after the elections and leaving them doing nothing. The hungry man does not know any other thing apart from food, that is why we need to educate them and empower them to go into businesses to be self employed and independent and shun any form of violence.
Similarly, a Youth Leader and the Convener of Youthlead in Nigeria, Comrade Mohammed Saidu Etsy while speaking on the same issue said the Leaders and Northern Elders should be held responsible should the North be destroyed
He enumerated some of the problems confronting the region to be insecurity, lack of education, poverty among others adding that unless these numerous problems are addressed, the North may likely destroy itself. He said the North must educate all their children, engage people and give them entrepreneurship so that they can be self employed.
“The North should be ready for Private driven Economy. The type of Almajiri system we are having in the North in terms of education should be abolished. Though we have been having resistance from some of the Northerners especially the Muslim clerics banning street begging and Almajiri in the North but the reality on ground now is that the region cannot continue to live this way and that is why we must come together and find a way of modernising these things.
The immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan created the Almajiri School system but unfortunately, nothing has been done by these Ulamas to make sure that the system worked and this is why we are calling on government that this Almajiri system should be abolished completely.
If you want to educate your child in Islamic way, there is a way that it can be done even at the doorstep of your house now. On insecurity, all the stakeholders must resolve on how we can engage our youths by giving them employment opportunities because poverty leads to insecurity. The Northern Elders should be held responsible for the problems confronting us in the North now because they refused to do the needful like educating us, their children, and their failure to provide a conducive environment where we will be economically empowered and be self reliant and not depending on politics or government to survive.
By Ibrahim Hassan
Mohammed Indabawa, retired Commissioner of Police,
As long as we don’t stop giving birth to children and sending them to the streets to beg, there is going to be problem in the North. As long as somebody who cannot take care of one wife will go and marry two, three or four wives in the name of Islam and he cannot take good care of them, there is going to be problem in the North. We are going to have so many divorcees because they cannot stay there. In as long as we don’t give proper education to our children, there is going to be problem in the North. Close to 100 percent of the entire beggars in Lagos,
Enugu, Ibadan, or anywhere, are from the North
The Presidents of northern extraction we have had cannot force parents to send their children to the street to beg in the name of getting Islamic education. Nobody has ever been forced to send children to the street in the name of Islamic education to beg, if you cannot afford two wives, marry one. Is that the problem of the leadership?
Our people here sell their votes more than any other, we sell our votes because we cannot get food to eat in the house unless somebody gives us N1000. Give a Northerner N2000 and he will sell his vote, that is why we don’t have quality leadership. That is the mistake we are making, that is the truth. The presidency should go to other region in the country, we are not the only ones, we’ve spent eight years already, we have to be fair.
In his own reaction renowned academic, Dr Mohammed Junaid in Kano tackled Emir Sanusi on the poverty level in the North, saying he held prominent positions in the past and should therefore enumerate those things he had done to lift the North from its present level. The monarch would be much better in politics so as talk freely. If he has something to offer the country, I’m more than prepared to be a party agent or among those people who will campaign and make sure the principles he is advocating are effected when he assumes power”.