Nigeria: Political, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Discussions

Posts tagged ‘Northern Nigeria Politics’

Nigerian Rulers and Their Unabashed Filial Cannibalism


Ahmed Garba

Hausa people have an idiomatic expression along the lines of, when a bastard  is also mentally deranged, then things are really too much (Abun yayi yawa, shege da hauka)Such is the case of Nigeria, northern Nigeria.  Things are really too much.

In the animal kingdom, there are, particularly carnivorous animals that engage in filial cannibalism—the act of eating their own young, if need be (e.g. Chimpanzees).  Often times they do this for dominance or out of sheer survival instincts.   Since they are “lower animals”, they lack the sense and rule of self-restraint that we humans (higher animals) claim to have.  We pride ourselves as creatures that have cultivated both rules and cultures of coexistence, and even a supposedly more refined tradition of nurturing our young.  So we claim.  But is that really the case?

Upon a long and hard reflection, one finds that despite our claim, in some human communities, there are painful examples of what arguably constitute evidence of filial cannibalism, though not as literal and glaring as what we see among animals, but the effects and consequences are somewhat similar—the guaranteed demise of the younger generation.  This situation is more apparent when one examines the relationship between the ruler and the ruled in a place such as Nigeria.  I chose the word ‘ruler’ as opposed to ‘leader’ for accuracy; Rulers don’t believe in accountability. The system of rulership in Nigeria can generally be divided into two main rubrics or classifications—traditional, and the so-called modern, meaning any form of the Greco/Roman (particularly borne out of Plato’s work) political system that has been adopted as the face of the government.  And as we shall see, in the case of Nigeria, the expression of any of these ‘modern’ systems is usually a bastardization of what it is supposed to represent.  In fact, even the ‘traditional’ system, as currently practiced has been whittled down to an embarrassing example of its real self.


Nigeria actually has the word ‘Republic’ in its name, as in “The Federal Republic of Nigeria”.  This is why it is tempting to examine its government(s) in terms of what Plato, and in fact, Socrates expect a ‘Republic’ to be like. For Socrates and Plato, a ‘Republic’ is a government where the entire country is considered a  ‘public matter’, not the private preserve of rulers.  Since his works borrowed heavily from Socratic thoughts, Plato places a greater emphasis on the concept of “justice” in his discussion of what a true “Republic” ought to be.  As Socrates himself maintained, it is ‘justice’ that can bring about a harmonious society, under the leadership of conscientious men, that is,  Philosopher-Kings.  [see “The Republic” by Plato].

Certainly, one does not expect to find that “Philosopher-king” in real life, and definitely not in the case of Nigeria, but that greater emphasis on ‘justice’ and  ‘just-man’ cannot be ignored, and this is the glaring failing of the ‘contrivance’ called Nigeria.  Heck, if you ask Nigerians, they will tell you, forget about a Philosopher-king, just plain old true “Patriots or Nationalists” with sense of justice and fairness will suffice.  Indeed, it is this lack of ‘justice’ and ‘just-men’ that has plagued the country, and the north in particular, so much that it has led all well-meaning observers to lament the state of the nation and the northern region.  It is also why I intend to posit here that in Nigeria as a whole, and the north in particular, there are those who engage in the equivalent of filial cannibalism, and they do so with impunity.

In its current form of government, Nigeria, in a very nominal sense will be described as a presidential system of government, not unlike the United States, but yet, quite different.  There are semblances of the three arms of government—Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary, as well as the bi-cameral representation in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end.  Whereas in the United States, the Legislature and the Executive frequently ‘checkmate’ each other in order to, at least, maintain the appearance of a working system, while the judiciary remains independent and plays enforcement role as much as possible.  No such luck in Nigeria’s so-called presidential system of government.

For example, after being ‘s’elected, the current Emperor, Ruler, President–take your pick–Ebele Jonathan (Jonah), actually thought it wise, no, imperative to sit down and consult with the Senate President (the alpha and the beta thieves) on the list of candidates that he, Jonah had drawn up for his own cabinet positions, so that once “things have been negotiated”, the so-called confirmation hearings–that would have provided opportunity for thorough scrutiny–will be nothing but a charade.  It didn’t matter that it was the country that will be the worse for it, as these confirmed candidates were hardly the best qualified for the jobs.  In other words, cronyism and patronage trump merit.  Such apparent subversion of the system and a clear demonstration of tremendous trust deficit did not face Jonah or the peoples’ representatives.  Therefore, the beginning of injustice conducted by unjust-men behind the curtain, under the guise of representation is the evaporation of “Republic” from the Republic of Nigeria.  Welcome to presidential democracy, Nigerian style!

Once these cabinet appointees ‘rubber stamps’ have themselves been rubber stamped, the country was doomed.  As usual, they have sworn to follow their patrons to the core of hell, and this marks the beginning of the demise of the polity and the prevalence of filial cannibalism.  From this point on, the plight of the current and future generation is sealed.  The marching orders are, if you have to take candy from a baby, do so, because the ‘sponsors’ have to be ‘settled’.  We also saw how parts of the country were sold off, lock, stock and barrel, as ‘delegates’ sacrificed their regions and people once they have collected that ‘betrayal allowance’.

In Nigerian ‘democracy’, it is an open secret that just as elections are routinely rigged/purchased, cabinet appointments are also bought and paid for, sometimes through an elaborate system of patronage.  Let’s recall the case of Nasir El-Rufai, the former Minister for Federal Capital Territory.  The story goes, when he was selected for this cabinet position, he was “advised” to pay homage to one senator before the confirmation hearings began.  After the typical Nigerian discourteous, ill-mannered, insalubrious reception at the senator’s house, El-Rufai was put through the widely known and often expected ‘shake-down’.  He was asked to come up with funds to the tune of 55 million naira, as a condition for his smooth sailing at the confirmation hearings.  Since he was too poor at the time to come up with such ungodly amount, he “put the word out” about his encounter with the senator.  Needless to say, he was ‘somehow’ eventually confirmed for the position.


When I talk about ‘filial cannibalism’, I am not referring to the actual act of devouring the flesh of the young (though, we have seen this practice among those who believe in certain types of ‘money rituals’).  In the context of Nigeria, this act takes several forms.

We have seen rapacious elites/rulers, who, out of sheer extreme selfishness are willing to rob their community blind, even if doing so will render not just the adults, but the youngest members of the community, hungry, helpless, and even destitute.  There have been occasions where traditional rulers, governors, local government council chairmen etc., will commandeer for themselves moneys and other means of development, including foreign aids intended for their own communities’ growth and development.  It was recently rumored that, the WAEC results for Sokoto state was being withheld, due to the state/governor’s failure to pay some money that was due.  If true, is this not tantamount to ruining the future of the younger generation, without a care in the world?  We are all familiar with the cases of ‘rulers’ who pay and receive ‘betrayal allowance’ in order to sacrifice their respective communities!   Unfortunately,  nowhere is this practice more prevalent and damaging than in the north, where the ‘Northern Establishment’–the group formerly known as the Kaduna Mafia, consisting of traditional rulers, some former military officers, and some so-called intelligentsia–which has now been honorarily admitted into the larger den of thieves  called ‘the cabal’,  continues to extinguish its own young through unimaginable act of brutality and neglect.

One will have to search far and wide to find a group of people more guilty of unenlightened self interest than the ‘Northern Elites’.  As wealthy as these people are, individually and collectively, and for as long, it is quite bewildering to realize that virtually none of them has been known for any form of ‘productive philanthropy’.  One will be hard pressed to find a ‘Northern cabal member’ who provides education, employment, training, etc. assistance on a large scale in his or her own community, if only to uplift the standard of living for a few.  It never bothered the likes  of Mai Daribe, his family, and friends, that while they luxuriate in palatial mansions, bedecked with unfathomably expensive furniture, stepping over gold-threaded rugs, only a stone’s throw away are children ravaged by hunger, begging in the streets instead of being in schools.  It is beyond comprehension to imagine that the Mai Daribe(s) of northern Nigeria never thought of setting up foundations, even if only to provide funding up to secondary school for perhaps a couple of hundred kids.  By the way, don’t nobody tell me that these selfish, heartless creatures often finance hajj pilgrimage for hundreds of people, or that they feed hundreds of people in the month of Ramadan.  That is not where it’s at, at all.  In fact, for all I care, they can shove those acts of ‘generosities’ where the sun doesn’t shine.

As northern Nigeria and its people continues to suffer from massive under-development, we saw the certified, bona fide myopic ‘Northern Establishment’ wasting no time to deepen the regions poverty.  Who can forget the roles played by the likes of Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma, Aliyu Gusau, etc., who had no qualm gathering Olusegun Obasanjo in tatters from prison and lobbed him over the fence into Aso Rock, against all hues and cries.  And true to the saying that ‘there is no honour among thieves’, we saw how Obasanjo repaid his sponsors.  First, there was that vengeful, pin-pointed focus on the Abacha family, which entailed bringing down some of the economy of Kano city at all cost.  Why?  Because, it was Kano’s adopted son, Sani Abacha who dared to imprison the incestuous cretin from Otta.  Hence, the people of Kano must pay for it.  Then we saw Obasanjo moved to privatize publicly held establishments that used to provide the limited employment the north ever had.  To add insult to injury, it was some of these ‘Northern Rulers’ who stepped forward to take private ownership, and gladly, true to form, ran down the establishments, to the detriment of the region and its people.  For example, where is Kaduna Textile today?  Even the Kaduna refinery was reported to have been put on the auction block, with the likes of Atiku Abubakar offering to purchase it, until Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, despite being ‘a dead man walking’ had the presence of mind  to put a stop to the silly shenanigan.

Another heart-wrenching example of eating their young, was the story of Pfizer’s damaging experiment with the children of Kano state.  In a report published by the newspaper,  234Next, we learned:

“As the opportunity for the victims of the 1996 Pfizer clinical trial in Kano of getting satisfactorily compensated continues to hang in the balance, a NEXT investigation has uncovered the despicable conduct of prominent Nigerians who sold their conscience to partake in what the late President Musa Yar’Adua described as “Pfizer’s blood money”. ……..As part of Pfizer’s “lobbying tactics”, it secured the services of a former head of state, Yakubu Gowon, and the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero (represented by a senior traditional ruler), amongst other unnamed political elites especially in the North who, NEXT discovered, were instrumental to influencing the Kano State government to significantly reduce its claim…….. The significance of the influence exerted by Mr. Gowon, the representative of the Emir of Kano, and the other influential Nigerians employed by Pfizer as lobbyists, is better appreciated when one considers the fact that the Kano State claim, which was initially $2 billion dollars, was drastically reduced to $150 million, and finally to $75 million.”

Source:  “Gowon and Bayero Secretly Worked for Pfizer”, Published on Sunday, 09 January 2011 17:38

I will hazard a guess that most of the victims of Pfizer’s deadly experiment probably did not receive much from that measly settlement, assuming they are even aware that there had been a settlement.

We also have the unabashed, unapologetic, unrepentant, parasitic characters such as, octogenarian cougar,  Lawal Kaita.  A man who was once attached to the coattail of Yar’Adua and has now latched on to Atiku Abubakar, like the leech that he is.  Here is a man, who by all accounts had been in ‘politics’ for longer than most can remember, and therefore had the chance to leave some enviable legacy.   But alas, the man’s proudest accomplishment was that in the second republic (1979-83), he, along with the rest of the vultures in NPN grounded Kaduna state to a standstill, mainly because, the then governor, Mallam Balarabe Musa (a more conscientious public servant) refused to let the vultures have their way with public funds. This orchestrated stalemate eventually led to the impeachment of Balarabe Musa, with Kaduna state losing an opportunity for what might have been good governance.

Following the impeachment of Balarabe Musa, old cannibal Kaita assumed office as the governor of Kaduna state in October 1983.  But, as luck would have it, Kaita couldn’t settle into his intended blood sucking orgy, as General Muhammadu Buhari was on time to rest Kaduna, and Nigeria off the hands of vampires like him.  Is it any wonder that ever since his premature ejaculation, not only has this old geezer been harboring hate against the likes of Buhari, but has also been spewing out all sorts of rubbish, supposedly in defense of the ‘North’.  His unsolicited verbiage, jostling, and antics would have made more sense had he any antecedence to back his ‘northern patriotism’.  Other than maneuvering to place his own children in well-cushioned jobs, can Lawal Kaita point to any of his accomplishments that benefits the  ‘talakawas’?

Lest we forget, Kaita has a southern counterpart named Pa Edwin Clark, another historic underachiever with ‘basket mouth’.  The harbinger of hate against Northerners, and the self-appointed King of the Ijaw Nation.  Ever since the Ijaw people started smelling the possibility of residing in Aso Rock, Pa Clark has been vociferous in his tribal/sectional attack against the North.  Yet, this is the same Edwin Clark who was first given a break as Commissioner for Information under a government headed by a Northerner–Yakubu Gowon, and he did not register a single exemplary accomplishment, that one can hinge on his ‘Ijawness’, for the youths of his community.  If Pa Clark had done much for his people, perhaps Nigeria would have been spared the emergence of MEND or an embarrassing PhD holder.   Now, this vermin from the creek cannot contain himself.  To hear Pa Clark talk, you’d think that he was never guilty of partaking in any of the corrupt governments that Nigeria has been having.

No doubt, one common thread between people like Kaita and Clark is unmitigated, filthy self-interest.  They have no care for the consequences of their words/actions.  They will consume their young for their own malevolent, selfish benefits.

Without ever justifying, not even explaining away, the senseless murderous conducts of Boko Haram, one cannot escape the logic that has been expounded that, this pathetic menace has been partly engendered by utter youth neglect.  That is, the horrendous malfeasant conduct of ‘northern rulers/elites’ who, in their classic short-sightedness, saw no reason to develop the region’s youths, except for their own family members, who, by the way, are sometimes lacking in cerebral capability to justify the resources expended on them.  These are the rulers who unflinchingly devour their own young, and do it proudly!

On a side note, was it me or did anybody else notice that when Boko Haram announced a proposed list of acceptable negotiators, they somehow failed to include a single, well-known/respected Islamic Cleric?  So much for their claim of Islamic jihad.


From the foregoing, it is no wonder that, thirteen years into ‘democracy’,  the north has  been witnessing a dearth of ‘performing’ governors, local council chairmen or what have you.  It is therefore, necessary to wrench the region from the clenches of these cannibalistic derelicts, parading as ‘Northern Leaders’.

It is also beyond apparent, that the likes of Ibrahim Babangida (one of the senior architects of the demise of Nigeria as a country); Atiku Abubakar (the weasel of Adamawa, and the megalomaniac head of PDP renegade faction);  Jerry Gana (a man who, despite being a Christian, is known to have posted bail for Muhammad Yusuf–head of Boko Haram, but who himself has never been held to account);  Bamanga Tukur (Nigeria’s master of ‘pay-day’ loan; a man gladly poised to sell off the north for sufficient ‘betrayal allowance’);  Adamu Ciroma (a PDP henchman who has demonstrated a glaring deficit of political acumen, re: PDP zoning debacle),  and all the unaccomplished representatives of the north are bad news for the region.  In fact, they are the cancer of the region, and like cancer, they have been eating away at the few functioning organs of the region, namely, determined public servants such as General Buhari.  These people, who apparently suffer from munchausen by proxy (they suffer their own young and then cry about it) should no longer be allowed to chart the course for the north.  It is high time the north and its people became enlightened enough to not only recognize these blood suckers for what they are, and replace them with more well-meaning public servants, but also jettison that servile mentality; that undue deference to someone simply because of seniority in linear age, possession of wealth, or family lineage.

For the north to reel out of its squalor, there is definitely a need for major re-thinking, an inside-out revolution of mindset, a paradigm shift of sort.  A region and its people cannot develop when a handful of its population can ‘live high on the hog’ almost for eternity.  Witness how many traditional rulers, ‘first class’ Emirs and Chiefs especially, sit on their thrones for decades with nothing to show for it, while at the same time, they and their relatives live in luxury.  Some of them (especially the so-called first class  Chiefs and Emirs) are so egocentric that they don’t even respond when spoken to by ‘lay persons’.  This is supposed to be chucked to some ridiculous tradition.  Never mind that Allah himself spoke directly to Musa (Moses).  What was he thinking, with his whole benevolent and merciful self?  I bet if these same ‘lords’ want to ‘pin down’ a ‘Kuyanga’ (handmaiden) in a dark corridor, they do wag their tongues.  Just saying.  These rulers expend so much energy to ensure that only those who will protect their own self interests get to be presented as ‘Northern Leaders’, and the symbiotic relationship is also reflected in how some traditional rulers serve the interests of governors.  Recall how the Emirs of Lafia and Nassarawa vamoosed–with their tails tucked between their legs–from their respective palaces, on the orders of Governor Aliyu Doma, when General Buhari came calling during the 2011 presidential campaign.  And these Emirs were supposed to be serving ‘their people’?

I am yet to see sufficient evidence of the public good that had been done by these traditional rulers, especially, the long serving ones among them.  It used to be the case that they employed the services of the so-called ‘native authority’–a bunch of pathetic characters dressed in clownish outfits, running around hounding and harassing the populace, especially under the guise of tax collection.  The saving grace for the ‘masses’ was probably the emergence of military governments, who put an end to the terror conducts of these minions often unleashed by the Chiefs and Emirs.

In fact, one can now argue that the conduct of Boko Haram, and the inability of the traditional rulers to respond clearly demonstrates their illegitimacy as rulers.  Don’t they constitute the ‘local’ in local government?  Or are they only effective as ‘government’ through the use of uncultured ‘Dogarai’?  The manner in which Boko Haram has emasculated the Emirs and Chiefs is too revealing to ignore.  These were the same rulers who were able to whisper into the ears of the likes of Ibrahim Babangida to get him to overthrow Buhari’s regime, partly due to Buhari’s willingness to put them in check, and now they failed woefully to rise to the challenge posed by a bunch of marauding bandits in their very own localities.  Whatever happened to their supposed ‘influence’?  Should anyone venture to retort that they possess no armed forces or security capability, then the question ought to be asked, of what good are they?  and more importantly, why is their existence so heavily subsidized, often times, at the expense of the future generation?  After all, it is not that they ever served the interest of the ordinary citizen anyway.  Right before our very own eyes, these rulers, their ‘Dogarai’  and their other sycophants have devolved into nothingness.  They have always legitimized their value on the basis of influence pedaling, but now that they have been unable to ‘influence’ Boko Haram, state government, or federal government, even to save their own lives, then the ‘jig is up’. The ruse has been uncovered; ‘Game over’.

So, while the constitution review committee is still siting, perhaps, it should be proposed that non-performing traditional rulers stand to be replaced by their respective ‘performing’ local government council.  Alternatively, the entire institution of traditional government can be eliminated, and any loud-mouthed uncooperative members can be embalmed and hanged for display in the department of antiquities for posterity.  After all, with the existence of local government council, isn’t the whole idea of traditional rulers a form of ‘parallel government’, albeit a non-performing one at that?  1976 economics nobel laureate, Milton Freidman once said something to the effect that, if you want to know the value of an employee, fire him and see what happens to his job.  If the job suffers then that employee was important, else he was not. With the seeming free reign of Boko Haram, we may have already, inadvertently conducted  the ‘Freidman experiment’ and the result is out in the open.  If the elimination idea is too harsh or unwise, how about making these roles wide open for public elections with term limit?  After all, nowhere was it ever ‘written by the fingers of God, on the hearts of men’ that certain individuals, just by virtue of, or by accident of birth should ‘lord it’ over the rest, forever.  In fact, I will submit that the concept of rulership/leadership by inheritance should be alien to sunni muslim north in particular.  After all, the Exemplar of muslim conducts and traditions (Prophet Muhammad) never practiced leadership/rulership by inheritance.

The northern re-engineering and re-orientation campaign should also emphasize the need to seek out, identify, and present educated, enlightened, committed individuals, regardless of family background.  In some sense, this is actually a clarion call for a return to late Aminu Kano’s philosophy/principle, whereby, the children of ‘talakawas’ share in the opportunity for development and leadership.  Though it must be noted that some of the current crop of ‘Northern Elites’ were once ‘talakawas’ themselves or are children of ‘talakawas’ whose loyalty to self and kin has now gone awry.  After Amimu Kano rescued them and their parents/children from the shackles of parasitic, avaricious, ‘Sarakunas’, they have now become the predators (Witness the Labaran Maku(s) of our time).  Furthermore, it is arguable that Buhari actually represents the Aminu Kano of this generation, and like the Aminu Kano of the past, his beliefs, philosophy, agenda, and popularity among the dispossessed has remained a disturbing threat to the bourgeois/ruling class.  Hence, their unrelenting determination to scuttle his chances as they did Aminu Kano before him.

However, in this second time around, the population of the north needs to remain vigilant, so as not to be hoodwinked by the hypocrites within.  Yes, it is not always easy to tell the hypocrites from the sincere, but, it is worth the effort, for what is at stake now is the survival of an entire region!  Whenever anyone starts babbling about their intention to lead any community, let’s subject them to scrutiny, publicly!  The questions should be asked: What is your antecedent, either in privately or publicly held position(s)?  Will you declare your asset now?  What do you intend to do for the community?  How do you intend to fund these agenda items?  How should your performance be tracked and verified?  Compare and contrast yourself with your opponent, how do you differ?  What similarities do you share?  I mean, seek out  think-on-your-feet, speak-intelligently, sharp-sharp kind of people.  None of that letting a village vagabond become a senator overnight, only to see him multiply his number of wives, houses, cars in jiffy, while doing nothing for his constituency.

The north needs to stop electing people who go around in their warped mind saying, “this here politics is my life, my day job, my everything. (Kunga, mu fa siyasar nan ita akasa a gaba)”.    Politics is never anyone’s whole life or profession, it is a temporal public service.  Play your part and vacate the stage.  Let’s use thorough investigative accounting to promote spirited competition among candidates.   One thing about human nature is that, liars in particular, resent scrutiny, that is, determined, sustained scrutiny.  They will soon wither and die.  Let’s put an end to the practice of hanging ourselves and auctioning the future of younger generation, by the shackles of our own present state of poverty.  In other words, choosing candidates based on one’s own pressing economic existentialism is bad for your kids’ future.

Hopefully, by the time this sort of scrutiny becomes routine, we would have mastered the art of weeding out the unqualified, the illiterates, the unlettered, the uncultured, the uncommitted, the undeserving–bourgeoisie or not.  May be then we can put an end to filial cannibalism.



The North Is Not Poor


Aliyu Bala Aliyu

“Some people see things that are, and ask why? But I dream things as they never were, and I ask “Why Not? —- George Bernard Shaw

An interesting article made the rounds in various newspapers and blogs some weeks ago titled ‘’ Derivation and Deprivation: Why The North Is Poor’’. Written by a certain Ross Alabo-George, the article has generated a cacophony of record breaking on-line responses, reactions and rejoinders. A corollary to the ‘‘disquisition’’, as its author christened it, is the number of articles that have come to life with the theme of the north’s usurpation of the Niger Delta’s oil.

Two dominant categories of responses have emerged on account of the principal theme of Ross’s thesis and both betray the sombreness of our fusion or confusion as a nation state.  The elections of 2011 brought to the fore in unprecedented measures the ethnic and religious cleavages evident in our existence. The boko haram menace has further compounded our national woes and like old times everything is being viewed through the Muslim/ Christian and / the Hausa, Ibo or Yoruba prism. The torrential reactions / responses from the Lagos –Ibadan axis; and of the south –south, south- east axis see Ross’s piece as a liberating one; a long awaited elixir to damn the north (both its elite and commoners).

To the Kaduna-Abuja press and its fans north of the Niger, the piece simply exposes a man devoid of objectivity, thoroughness and balance; with a premeditated agenda of painting the northern oligarchy as the major if not sole architect of Nigeria’s perdition. The northern oligarchy, in this view, is seen as being deliberately portrayed as villains by Ross as the region benefitting from the oil flowing beneath the soles of the Niger Deltans. This disposition suggests that the few northern barons listed in his article do not of course possess the monopoly of the oil blocs in the Niger Delta and he should have gone the whole nine yards to list the names of south southerners and south easterners who own oil blocs too.  In between these two camps are those who were boldly objective and a number of those who towed the path of frivolous technicalities. Of the latter are those who spent time debating whether Mai Deribe, Nasiru Ado Bayero, Atiku Abubakar or Rilwanu Lukman are Hausa, Kanuri, Bachama, or Fulani  men; and whether Kano, Borno or Niger  is of the north-east, or north-west or north-central.

The strain of comments suggest that for every Mai Deribe, Nasiru Ado Bayero, T.Y Danjuma, and co mentioned, a James Ibori, Dipreye Alamesiagha, Peter Odili or Lucky Igbinedion etc exist who have fleeced the monies of the Niger Deltans  in unimaginable proportions. The question for me of course is not about whose loot is most mind-boggling or which region parade’s the bigger or more ruthless thief; or that with 13% derivation and the NDDC, the Niger Delta has not become the Dubai of Africa no, but that if the north cries ‘’we are poor’’, ‘’we are poor’’, who impoverished us? James Ibori, Dipreye Alamesiagha, Peter Odili or Lucky Igbinedion? The northern intelligentsia and its political leadership must deconstruct this hoax of inflicted poverty by others either by the perceived disadvantageous revenue allocation formula or the imagined  sabotage of the oil drilling prospects  in the upper north basin  for we held the reigns of power more than any other region in this country. On the contrary the north is in such pitiable and unacceptable state of poverty because of the actions and inactions of our leaders who have helped themselves, members of their immediate families, friends and cronies generously with the public resources put in their trust. While it is true that at no time did the north go it alone- for where a northerner was the number one man, a different region produced the number two man; the Supreme Military Councils and the Armed Forces Ruling Council of the military governments past, the ministers of both military and democratic governments of the past were representative of all of Nigeria with their varied inputs to the development or underdevelopment of Nigeria; but my focus here is on the north.

While I do not in any way hold brief for Ross, I must say that his disquisition is a powerfully engaging and thought provoking piece which places a giant mirror in front of the north.. Of a surety it would have better if he had gone ahead to name the oil block barons from other regions, but then context within which the article was written should be appreciated.


Sanusi Lamido Sanusi [London]: – On the 27th of January 2012, Sanusi while granting an interview to the Financial Times of London alleged that the revenue allocation  formula skewed in favour of the south-south as it  were is unfavourable to the north, and by extension engenders poverty which in turn is fuelling Boko Haram and sundry violence in the north.

Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu [Minna]: Taking a cue from the Central Bank Governor, the Chief Talker of Niger state (a tittle I think fits him much more than his current one) and chairman of the northern governors’ forum, Muazu Babangida Aliyu called for the re- evaluation of the revenue allocation formula that gives a ‘’whopping’’ 13% to the south south and creates two Nigerias- A prosperous south and an impoverished north. But aside his loquacity how has he changed the lives of Nigerlites with the ‘’little’’ he gets from Abuja every month?

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi [Kano]: On the 10th of January, Sanusi  Lamido Sanusi made a most morally ambiguous, and professionally controversial donation of a hundred million naira (N100,000,000) to victims of Kano state’s  boko haram bomb blast. Kano is Sanusi’s home state of which he is a prince and nurses an open ambition of becoming its emir.

Let it be stated that throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria, the political class has been a disappointment having failed to chart a course of foresighted prosperity and to guarantee the people a descent life. The power they wielded and still do never bore and still does not bear the flames of altruism, patriotism and love. It was and still remains power merely for power’s sake. They succeeded and are still enriching themselves beyond comprehension and accountability – at least here on earth- and entrenching corruption along the way a la carte.

Beyond all of this however, we the people of the north must re- examine our socio-economic, socio-political and socio- cultural fundamentals with a view to understanding why we are where we are as the dregs of Nigeria’s socio-economic disaster. We must, in all honesty, equally re-visit the misinterpretation or misapplication of our religious fundamentals – be it Christianity or Islam. Isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with a system that perpetuates and nearly glorifies and encourages endemic poverty?

Away from the political leadership and its statutory obligation to the people lies the question of individual/ private and group intervention in the north and that shall be the thrust of my own disquisition; approaching it from neither of two major paradigms of criticisms mentioned above.  Why are the billionaires in the north not the type that give back to society? Why is that the northern billionaires are not getting busy in touching lives? Does it not shame us and challenge them that the Bill and Mellinda Gates foundation is so passionate about combating the malaria and polio blight  in our country. I cannot help but ask myself what goes on in the minds of our cash Alhajis and retired Generals. How about the Mac Arthur foundation, Carnegie, Rockefeller,etc and their interventions all around us? Would building a dozen world class primary and secondary schools in Dangote’s ward or local government with the best of teachers and facilities be such a reprehensible act? Ironically it had to take Rochas Okorocha miles away, in Imo state, to build a befitting school in Kano and another one in Jos (which by the way is tuition free in addition to free lunch given to the students). How many Kanawa has Dangote sponsored to Harvard to go and study contemporary entrepreneurship or to Princeton; George Washington?

The same applies to Alhaji Dantata the construction mogul (now of blessed memory). How many people from his local government did he sponsor to go and study civil engineering in Paris, Germany or Italy? How many people did Rilwanu Lukman sponsor to go and study petroleum engineering or renewable / alternative/ clean energy having been in the petroleum industry both on the national and international scenes for aeons? How many young men and women do these people mentor to follow in their footsteps? Who for the love of God inspires and influences their thought processes? How about the Abachas, the IBBs the Abdusalams, the Atiku’s, the TY Danjumas, the  David Marks, the Bamanga Tukurs etc.

Is it not only logical and self evident that a mass literacy revolution was and is still the way to go? Is the south west today not reaping the massive literacy investment of Awolowo? What then exactly do our leaders discuss at their AC F meetings? What exactly do the nineteen northern governors discuss when they meet? Political power?  To zone or not to zone? The perpetuation of PDP till eternity ? The turbaning of dubious individuals and those of questionable characters with traditional titles (ably rubber-stamped by colluding emirs)? The marriage of Generals’ daughters’ to Ministers’ sons? Well here is the got news – the continued oppression, deprivation and neglect is sadly responsible for the menace of book haram and as it were it shows no signs of abating. The thinking that the elite could amass wealth and unabashedly live in opulence next door to life snatching penury; send only their kids off to London, France and Dubai to come back as the new breed of oppressors to continue from where their parents stopped oppressing our parents and live in privileged exclusivity is being threatened.  Now that we all cannot sleep with our eyes closed because we don’t know where the next bombs will go off, the north should as a matter of sincere urgency go back to the drawing board and seek redemption from itself. Time is not on our side.

As the north battles with its grip on political power, it would be great to take a close look at every other aspect of the Nigerian project where it trails behind the south and east. The following are my observations.


The north’s lamentation over the years of a south-western dominated press and biased media coverage and /reportage of events concerning the region  has not birthed  world class media options- the type Al Jazeera unleashed upon the world to the consternation and humbled admiration of CNN, BBC and others in the league. Knowing full well the role of the media in shaping public opinion and setting the news agenda, one of the pillars of politics in the south west and perhaps its greatest political figure alive established the Nation Newspapers, and the duo of TV and radio continental. Another political figure from Ogun state founded the Compass Newspapers; and yet another undying flame from the south east established the Sun Newspapers. From Ovation to Genevieve, True Love, Complete Fashion, Arise, City People, Four- Four –Two, Researchgate, where are we taking the lead? . In which of these sectors do our magazines flourish?  Aviation ,Agriculture, Automotive and Parts Construction, Consumer Goods, Business, Banking,Finance, Education, Environmental Issues, Food and Drink, Healthcare, Information Technology, Tourism, Logistics, Real Estate, Security, Telecommunications or Transportation? The north is left out of these niches.

How many TV and radio stations exist in Lagos s alone? As at the last count I had listed a dozen TV stations and 28 radio stations. How many are there in the entire 19 northern states?  Where are the north’s media moguls both serving and retired who worked both on the national and international scenes? Are they not inspired and equally challenged by Ben Murray Bruce’s accomplishments with the Silverbird Group

Out of the ’’ blues’’ came Jimoh Ibrahim’s National Mirror like a thunderbolt. In no time National Mirror has carved a niche for itself on newsstands despite their perceived saturation. Every day I stop by to take a glance at the headlines at the vendor’s, the one question I ask myself is where the north’s voice is in the newspaper and magazine industry. Not a single magazine exists that celebrates northern excellence and showcases the few success stories of the region. The only semblance to that came by way of the stint of the novel publication Sardauna Magazine which started out as a student’s Union magazine in ABU. But it should interest you dear reader that Sardauna Magazine’s success had to take Rilwan Hassan, a Yoruba boy (though he calls Zaria home which is beautiful) to birth. Since 1962 when ABU was established nobody thought of the idea till Rilwan came by. Daily Trust, Leadership, People’s Daily and now Blueprint cannot do it alone for the north both as a voice and as a platform. The TV stations here in Lagos consciously avoid them during their headline reviews.


The north no doubt has men of great intellectual alertness and sound disposition of mind and judgement but is it not laid bare for all to see that the ratio of scholarship in the north pales to near insignificance when compared with the south west? How many northerners are actually pursuing second degrees or PhDs? How many of our professors and Drs are lecturing outside northern universities like Ife, Nsukka, Unilag, Ibadan etc? How many of our professors and Drs are lecturing in foreign Universities? I know quite a number of Nigerians who are lecturing in Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, School of African and Oriental studies and a host of others and you can guess dear reader where they are from. How many private Universities are there in the north? Ogun state alone has 10. How many private schools (primary and secondary) are in the north and of those that do exist aren’t they established and run most competently by non- northerners?

From ABU to UDUS to Maiduguri to UNN, UniPort, Unical, Abraka etc you find south westerners and south easterners in search of education and not just that they are excelling in academics in all of these institutions and beyond. But how many of our Modibbos, Faizals, Jatuas, Ishayas, Mainasaras, Asabes, Rakiyas, Altines or Asmaus are in other institutions of higher learning outside the north?

Who else other than Prof Ayodele Awojobi would have challenged the department of engineering in ABU to finish a four year degree course in three and go on to become the first African to be awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) at the Imperial College London, a degree which Wikipedia says is ‘’only exceptionally and rarely awarded to a scholar under the age of forty’’. He remained ‘’the youngest professor ever in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos, and the first ever to be expressly promoted from associate to full professorship within a week’’

Who else other than Dr Chike Obi would have been the first Nigerian to earn a PhD in mathematics? Who else other than Prof Teslim Elias would have become Governor of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London? Which other woman would bag a PhD at twenty six years of age other than Dr Tope Adeyemi or rival Miss Adejoke Ogunlana as the youngest lecturer in Nigeria at 22yrs of age? Would it ever have happened in ABU? BUK? UDUS? And even if it did happen would it still not be them? Who else other than Peter and Paul Imafidon (the wonder twins) would have made history in far away Britain becoming the youngest ever mortals to pass A level maths at age seven (7)?

Since the establishment of WAEC in 1952 and JAMB in1977, who have been the top 10 students’ years in year out? Northerners? Certainly not! Is the north comfortable that in 2011 only 17, out of the 18,000 secondary school students who sat for the National Examination Council examinations in Gombe State, made five credits? What is the SSCE enrolment ratio that exists between say Yobe and Bauchi state on the one hand and Imo and Ekiti state on the other?

Permit me dear reader to ask: Which primary school did Dangote, Dantata, IBB and co attend? And what is the state of those primary schools today? Has Adamu Ciroma, who has been in government since independence; and so remained until he got tired and made way for his wife to carry on the baton served as a catalyst to remodelling his primary school to be one of the best in his state?

Is it any wonder that the reference bookshops from Zaria, to Kano, Minna, Kaduna, Sokoto Maiduguri etc are not owned by northerner? We aren’t even among the big players in the books and stationeries arena yet year in year out thousands of students go to ABU, FCE Nuhu Bamali Polythecnic, FUT Minna, UDUS etc to get an education.

Private Enterprise and Professionalism

Last year I started to write a number of articles which I later abandoned among which are: ‘’ Entrepreneurship and the Northern abyss‘’, ‘’Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia and the rest of the north’’ and  ‘’Before Dangote’s Exit’’ among others. While a great number of the articles did not develop beyond their proposed titles, the inspiration behind their themes remains the same till this moment. Is it not worth asking today as ever before how many northern business enterprises dot the northern landscape? How many northern concerns provide consultancy services for services ranging from the establishment of new businesses to accelerated performance, growth or evaluation of existing ones?

How many retired policemen and women, personnel of the state security services (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) or the Armed Forces have gone the way of private security consulting? Need I say of course their inputs would have contributed significantly in the fight against the book haram’s wave of terror?

Just the other days I watched a documentary on the power sector reforms and as expected not a single consultant from the mass of consultants spoken with were northerners. Not a single energy consultant, analyst or expert of northern extraction. The only northerner I saw throughout the duration of the documentary was as expected in the government cadre! Yet from ABU to BUK, UJ, UDUS et al our universities have departments of electrical engineering. To what use have our northern scholars put their Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Oxford and RGU trainings among others? Where are the gurus and thinkers of the region?

How many northerners have pursued ICT know-how to compelling levels of expertise? Of all the Microsoft certified Web developers, Microsoft this- Microsoft that; Oracle this- Oracle that; and the Java masters among other ICT levels of excellence I read about, northerners aren’t usually on the list. Who are the custodians of ICT expertise in Nigeria: its mastery, deployment and maintenance? Who are the pioneers and trailblazers of enterprise solutions?

The bulk of the legal luminaries and chattered accountants in this country come from a particular section of this country and the north doesn’t belong in the league. Any need to lose sleep over that?

Who are the country managers, the trail blazing figures, of Nokia, Samsung , Standard Chattered Bank ,Citi group, Ericsson, Siemens,Huawei, HP, Baker Hughes, Saipem, Coberon Chronos, Toshiba, Accenture, Google, Ernst and Young , Price Water Coopers (PWC), DFID , World Bank, UNICEF, UNIDO etc? They certainly are not northerners.

Do we constitute the majority of   pilots or aeronautic engineers in Nigeria even when NCAT is in the heart of Zaria? Who else but Imoleayo Adebule, 23, would be Nigeria’s youngest pilot? Do we run the most outstanding agencies in the heart of the north providing a one stop shop for human resources solutions from recruitment to training; and outsourcing etc? .

Is it a case of a lack of platforms to showcase our achievements or the deliberate neglect or downplay by the media (dominated by the south west) that has consigned us to the back seat and to so remain or both and even more? Do names like those of FRA Williams, Afe Babalola, Diya Fatimehim, Jide Taiwo & co, Osas & Oseji Challenge the north?

Dear reader, how many northern owned franchises do you know? Shagalinku? Yahuza? And then… Well I’m scratching my head in case you aren’t. I could bet on both my eyes that if either or both businesses belonged to a Yoruba or Igbo man, Shagalinku would have been serving hot tuwon shinkafa  and man shanu in London and America in the least; and Yahuza would have been selling his suya on the streets of LA, Dubai and Malaysia (lest I forget, Toks Odebunmi is already doing so in London and Kehinde Olajide has taken Zobo to the next level in the US). Interestingly, very recently I met a young and sharp boy in Unilag who had put arrangements in place to buy Yahuza’s franchise and spin money for himself in Lagos. No dulling. QED.


In which aspect of sports do we excel? Is it Football? Basketball? Track and field events? Gymnastics? Combat sports? Oh! I forgot Polo- the sport of the princes and royalties of the north. While they play polo with aristocratic gusto shouldn’t we wonder how many names it has put on the world‘s sporting map and how many jobs it has created? How many of our potentials are playing the world’s greatest game in England, Italy, Spain and others either in professional leagues or junior /feeder teams awaiting discovery and making money along the way? Need we ask how many lives the western union transfers of Mikel Obi touches or those of Osaze Odemwingie? Or the impact of   Kanu‘s Heart foundation on kids who would have long died unsung? Recall names  like Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael OlowoKandi, Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Segun Toriola, Bash Ali, Uche Chukwumerije etc ?Do they sound northern?

Literature, Arts, and Music:

Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe exist in a class of their own In tota fine erga omnes et omnia. (for all purposes, in regards to all and everything). Whether loathed, genuinely or enviously admired, the duo have occupied their places on the throne of Nigeria’s literary scene and the global honours list. With them as pioneers, there can be no other firsts. Other torch bearers include, without diminishing the status of those unmentioned here, Cyprian Ekwensi, Ola Rotimi, Niyi Osundare (whose poem) is going to be read at the London Olympics. Of the latter generation, who else would have won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Orange Prize for fiction other than Chimamanda Adichie ? Who else would have won the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg poetry prize (2008) and  the Arts & Culture Award [CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards (2009)] other than Tolu Ogunlesi? Who else would have won the Young Global Leader (YGL) 2012 other than Simon Kolawole? Nigerian writer and blogger, Teju Cole, has recently won this year’s Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a ‘distinguished’ first book of fiction in far away London and the list goes on and on. Who wins the NLNG prize for science and literature yearly? When these awards take place, where are the northerners?

Which songs do the DJs and Radio presenters across the north play? Seal, Light house family, Dr Alban, Sade Adu; P- square, Whiz Kid, Davido, Wande Coal, T Y Bello, Mo Cheddah, 9ice, Asa, Brymo? When the likes of Femi Anikulapo Kuti set the target of a Grammy for himself where are the northern artistes and performers?

Do names like Bruce Onobrakpeya; Fred Okon Archibong; Muraina Oyelami; Yusuf GrilloYinka, Bridget Nwanze, Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy; Bisi Fakeye; Yinka Shonibare; (Arts ); Sunmi Smart Cole, George Osodi; Emeka Okereke, Jide Alakija,Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko (Photography); Chinwetel Ejiofor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Sophie Okonedo , Rick Famuyiwa (Hollywood) ring silent bells in the ears of the north?

Even the popular Argungu festival, the endless Durbars, the countless investitures are photographed, exhibited and promoted by non- northerners!


Who handles the advert portfolios of  the blue chip companies  or better still the “fortune 100” companies in  Nigeria ?Whether through mainstream advertising channels or social media platforms? The advertising moguls are certainly not northerners yet MTN, Airtel, Glo, Etisalat, Nokia, Samsung, Indomie, Coca-cola, have their products on gigantic bill boards across the length and breadth of Nigeria yet no northerner thinks it is a worthy niche. The billboards are even now going digital and perhaps in no time to touch screens and the north will most certainly not be there.

Who else would have established the Orange Academy (touted as Nigeria’s first and perhaps only school of practical brand advertising) other Kenny Badmus; and of course how many northerners are students of the academy?

Health Care:

I am yet to see that world class hospital in every sense of that word world class in northern Nigeria. With common cold or slight back aches, our elite can afford to dash to Egypt, Europe and America , yet no single money bag has had the initiative or patriotic zeal to build  any kind of world class hospital specialising in at least one area of medicine whether Ophthalmology; Cardiology, Nephrology, Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery. It could even be a hospital specially dedicated to women or children attracting the best doctors from all over the world; and over a period of time they would have trained our indigenous doctors on the job. By so doing, they would not have to fly their kids to France to treat common cold.

Why has the Yar’Adua family not established a pericadiatis centre in Katsina, or of such heart related diseases? Why has IBB not established a cancer research centre in Minna or Asaba? Perchance alternative therapy could hold the key to unlocking the cure to the disease where orthodox medicine has so far not. If our elite and nouveau riche are not establishing such hospitals, why are they then  not sponsoring students and giving out research grants to crush the frontiers of knowledge ‘beyond the utmost bound of human thought’?

Motherless Babies Homes/ Hospices/ Special needs schools:

I know not a world class motherless babies home, a horspice or special needs school in the north.  How are such children brought up and catered for? Does anybody ask these questions among our elite? Do they care? Do they, while feasting on their assorted cuisines during Christmas, and Eid (sallah) banquets give a damn about the welfare of these categories of people in the north?

Almajirici as a way of life

The likes of Dr Aliyu Tilde, Dr Galadanchi and a number of northern intellectuals have done varying degrees of work on the almajiri phenomenon. The blue prints and commentaries are all out there but I cannot help but be amazed at the sustenance and perpetuation of the system in its medieval state. The failure of successive governments of the north to see the existence of the tsangaya system as needful of integrative reforms with mainstream western education as is obtainable in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar etc. is completely incomprehensible. How could they not see the impending disaster?

How could such a system exist till this day that disconnects a child from his parents at such a critical stage of his formative years and expect him to come out whole? Like I pointed out to Dr Galadanchi during one of his visiting lectures in ABU, a child who has not been shown parental love and nested in the warmth of a home cannot give it. I am a very strong believer in the psycho-emotional and psycho-social workings of human beings as it affects their personality traits and social interactions.

Of Beggars, the Physical challenged and bequeathing a legacy of poverty:

Is the north the only region that has physically challenged people? Obviously not! But how is that it is northerners that are begging their lives away from Sokoto to Lagos; from Maiduguri to Ikom; from Zamfara to Aba etc? Is it any wonder that the almajiri system offers   an elementary apprenticeship in begging for alms? With no formal education or life skills, employability is very limited for this category of people.  Coming out of such a system, a pyramidal structure of the northerners outside the region presents the first-tier level base of the north’s blighted exports who end up in places like Lagos, Port- Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha etc as cobblers (shoe shiners) manicurists and pedicurists, water vendors [(mai ruwa), porters (mai kaya / dan dauko)], in the markets and motor parks, garbage collectors (mai shara); or as hawkers of sugarcane, carrots, tiger nuts (aya) and other such things.  The second tier levels who earn a more decent income than the first are the categories that end up as gatemen (maigadi), unpertubed by the sweeping wave of the private security industry.  Since his occupation is more of a sedantry one, he is more often than not permitted -implicitly or explicitly- to run a makeshift kiosk to sell trifles ranging from tom-tom, cigarettes , sugar , to kolanuts and bitter kolas. Others in this category include suya and kilishi merchants, okada riders, tanker drivers, cattle and sheep barons, tailors and embroiders (I have deliberately avoided the use of the expression “fashion designer” to qualify them which I shall explain later on.)

The third tier levels are the few men and women working in essentially government establishments like Nigerian ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration (NIMASA), Military formations, Police and other security establishments, Customs, Immigrations, NDLEA, NTA, EFCC, VON, FAAN, CBN, SEC, NSPMC, NNPC, DPR, ECOWAS, and the like. Then those that work in the blue chip companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell, MTN, Ericsson, Chevron, Saipem, Sahara, Halliburton, Dangote, BUA, MRS and the likes. The informal cadre in this tier are the bureau the change Alhajis, and the few auto dealers.

I met a physically challenged fellow who came to study law in ABU a couple of years ago. Although wheel chair bound, he had the heart and spirit of a long distance runner. I taught another in one of the primary schools in Bida and was impressed and encouraged by his determination and dream. But the question is how many northerners who are physically challenged have not resigned to a life of begging?  As I write this, there is in UNILAG a visually impaired man pursuing a Master’s degree in law (LLM). With two degrees in his kitty (a B.A in English and an LLB) he is a sound lawyer that knows his onions and quite an engaging speaker. Another interesting thing about this lawyer is that he has another friend who is his computer programmer who is equally visually impaired; who installs softwares on his computer and update programmes. In 2010, Ayoola Efunkoya, a virtually impaired student graduated as the best student in the Department of Mass Communication, Unilag. Ever head of Dr Ife Akintunde, J.D Matthew Olaiya? How about Cobhams Asuquo (award-winning musician, producer, and songwriter), Cosmas Okoli, a wheel chair bound motivational speaker?. In LASU is a wheel chair bound surgeon. Sheikh Abdullah ibn Abdulazeez ibn baz was blind yet rose to become the first Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Medinah and later Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. So how is it that the entire army of persons with disability (and sadly even able bodied men and women) should, as a career, take begging to such obnoxious and incomprehensible levels even when Islam, the religion of the majority of most of them frowns at it?  Where in God’s name are the world class schools in the north to cater for kids with disabilities? Where are the special programmes directed at them?

Contemporary and Futuristic Engagements:

Who else would have championed the cause of climate change and desertification if not Newton Jibunoh. Newton Jibunoh it was who in 1965 at the age of 27 crossed the world’s largest desert (via the Sahara desert) alone.  He has had expeditions from London to Lagos and Lagos to London; all by road in a passionate attempt to create awareness on the issue of desertification. His ‘’Desert Warriors’’ reality TV was initiated to stimulate youth participation and bequeath an enduring legacy to fight desertification. He has carried out sensitization and tree planting tours in Kano and other places. These were not established by the region’s cash Alhaji’s and retired Generals or even its professionals even when we are the ones most threatened by the impact of the raging desertification. It was Newton’s idea; solely his. In furtherance of this paradox, the 2010 third edition of the conference on climate change in Lagos had desertification as one of its themes. It did not hold  in Yobe, Borno or Sokoto, it held in Lagos and the last time I checked Lagos was not in remote or immediate threat of desertification yet she attracted professionals and experts from all over the world to come and brainstorm on the issue. How many northern Governors were there? Where are the SL Edus of the north, the Nnimmo Basseys, the Desmond Majekodunmis, and the Tunde Akingbades?

In other parts of the country, all sorts of groups are formed to draw government and even international attention to the groups interest, hence it is not unusual to hear of Albino groups coming together to protest against discrimination (and their agitation has recently made JAMB consider giving them extra time during its exams), market women associations, Landlord associations, etc where issues of common interest can be discussed and which in real terms is able to draw significant attention than they would as individuals. These associations are also political rallying blocs. Who says the Iyalaje’s in Lagos don’t have a say in the ACN government?

Despite the age long dominance of northerners in the cattle business, no animal rights’ activist has come out of the region to fight for the rights of animals that are most often than not cruelly transported throughout the length and breadth of this country; and tormented before their eventual slaughter in the most furred and undignifying abattoirs our local governments parade everywhere.

The Diasporan Alliance

All sorts of Nigerians in the diaspora associations exist all over the world; from US to Britain to Germany etc. Some of them have even established NGOs in Londonlike Shola Lana of Nexgen. Northerners are neither the brains behind the formation of such groups nor the forces that propel them. Why bother?


Who are the dealers of electronics, phones, computers, milling machines, generators, and boutiques even in the heart of Kaduna, Sokoto and Kano? Who are the imports and exports barons, spare part dealers, building materials merchants, Pharmacists and drug merchants? Who are those that dominate the printing industry from Kaduna to Zaria thorough Sokoto to Bauchi, Zamfara etc?

Do northerners parade the best of machinists, technicians, radio and TV technicians, auto mechanics, master welders, carpenters and exquisite furniture makers? Is dry-cleaning, fumigation, industrial / large scale cleaning our turf? In the fashion arena, the most innovations, the daring designs, the creative and contemporary designs in the fashion industry are not from the north. How on earth could they be? Our Tailors and dressmakers have remained tailors nothing more. Not a single one of them has taken his / her expertise to the next redefining level and become fashion designers with brand identities both at home and abroad. Not like those of Dakova; Frank Oshodi; Tiffany Amber; Deola Sagoe ; Tsemaye Binitie; Mike Asikolaye, Mudi (Fashion Design) Adebayo Jones, etc and hence my initial avoidance of the usage of the term. Not even our famous Bukar zanna Kubecaps nor the Muhadu a banki or Marufiya versions can be pinned to a designer north of the Niger.

Are our caterers and event managers in the north the pace setters in the field? Are we the most sought after chefs in Sheraton, Transcorp, Le Meridian, Oriental or Protea hotels? Do we run the most successful hotels in any part of the country?

On a tragic note dear reader you may remember the heart-rending story of Readers would remember the pathetic story of little Pwashikai Nideno, the 5year old miracle baby who’s vagina and rectum  were mutilated and left to die in a pool of her blood in Dong Village, Adamawa state… on the . Hospitalised at the Yola Specialist Hospital, all she needed was five million naira for a vaginoplasty operation in Egypt – a procedure to reconstruct her private part and rectum. Pwashikai’s case put Adamawa state government to shame; put the entirety of its political gods to shame; its women folk without exception and by the same stretch of culpability the entire northern region. But the gold medal should go to the first ladies of Adamawa state (all four of them) and the deputy governor’s wife. In this regard, the newspapers reported: ‘’ …the wife of the Adamawa State governor, Binta Nyako, was one of the contributors. She donated the sum of N50, 000 when she visited Pwashikai at the hospital… in company of the association of international female lawyers. The wife of the Adamawa State deputy governor, Bala Ngillari, also made a cash donation of N50, 000 when she went to see the little girl.’’ If Pwashika was the biological daughter of the first and second ladies of Adamawa state would a paltry N50, 000 (which may does not even equate the worth of their jewellery) be the best they would do for her? If they could not go the whole hog to give N5, 000,000 to a dying baby, could they not use their clout and ’’political goodwill’’ to marshal the millionaires’ wives of Adamawa and women of goodwill there to save a life? Was it not a motherly call? Ironically, the largest donation came from an individual in Lagos who insisted on remaining anonymous!!!

Recognitions and Awards:

Since its inception in 2005, the future awards has drawn the world’s attention to a crop of emerging youngsters in Nigeria but then how many northerners make the cut year in year out? How many of our people make the cut at the Thisday awards, Silverbird, The Sun, Media Trust, Leadership etc?

In Conclusion

Viewed from this prism, shan’t it be safe to safely conclude that poor may after all be a euphemism to describe the parlous state of our calamity? Is this how Allah destined it? Or to my Christian brethren north of the Niger, is this how Jehovah, Elohim, or Yesu Almasihu decreed it? Between 1931 and 1945, Japan occupied China and humbled them as a result. In 1945, Japan was brought to its knees by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; yet from these ominous recesses these countries rose to become global powers today. Were countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the likes not written off as having the remotest prospects of gargantuan rise as evident today? Despite all of the bleak and gloomy prophecies, they rose to become great nations the world admires and doffs its hat to today. The north and indeed Nigeria can learn a lesson or two there from. I am not a self loathing individual; and my disquisition doesn’t in any way attempt to promote sectionalism nor regionalism, far from it, I only wish to draw the attention of a slumbering people to the ‘’very minute’’ details that actually make the whole worth calling whole after all.

What is it exactly that drives the peoples of the south east, and south west to dare and to achieve? Are they wired differently? So why do we settle for less? Shall we turn to science, eugenics, religion or even superstition for answers? But while we are at it, the fundamental questions still stare us in the face:

-Who made the north poor? James Ibori, Peter Odili, Dipreye Alamesiagha,or Lucky Igbinedion?

-What strategies are being put in place to get the north out of this poverty trap both at the level of governance and at the individual/group intervention levels?

We can choose to remain in the back seat or choose to move ourselves by the bootstraps. We can begin the redemption now or wait till some distant future to earn for ourselves a place of respect- a place where we are not viewed as savages and with this much disdain- a place where we can compete and contribute to the sustenance, peaceful co-existence and prosperity of the one and only country we have and truly love– Nigeria.

Aliyu Bala Aliyu,

Masters Student of Public and International Affairs,

University of  Lagos.

April 2012

%d bloggers like this: