So let me start this way, this essay was originally written some seven years ago, under the original title “Northern Nigeria And Her Mythical Realities”. I have looked at it again and come up with a remake of it.
Not many of us want to take responsibility for anything, from personal, to family or national life. The blame is on the system. We do not need to create demons out of our leaders because they are specimens of demons, so we hang our sins on them appropriately and inappropriately too. And unfortunately, their behaviour has made it easy for the critic to descend on them. We at most, talk, write and discuss the Nigerian myth, one of which is leadership, with a sense of fatalism.
If everyone thought as much as I did about justice and fairness, life would be better. I am a critic, but I am also the critics’ critic, the unrepentant believer that the best way to keep the government on its toes is to keep harping on their flaws so they can improve.
Often I say I believe the things I write on, are important for our nation as they are for other nations, but when it appears to me Nigerians especially those in authority do not react to these issues as people in other lands do, I repeat them in new essays to remind old readers and recruit new ones to participate in the continuing dialogue.
As a critic, even my bitterest opponents, AGIP apologists, politicians from all sides; North, South, Middle Belts, and all other belts have to read me personally or have someone read me and tell them what I said and did not say, so that their anger can be kept burning hot.
My admonition this week dwells with a section of Nigerian; the North and it is a do-no-favours essay, call it the truth, or falsehood, call it nonsense, be bitter or be complimentary about it, I really do not care, or better still I care enough to tell us the way I see it.
The words of Malcolm X sum up my next few paragraphs. “You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”
The myth–Aboki is supposedly a Hausa term that is used to describe the man up North, he may be hausa, nupe, berom, fulani, shua, but largely he is ignorantly Hausa to all and poor, he is either mai-guard (gateman), mai-ruwa (water), mai shai (tea), mai-doya (yam), mai-reke (sugarcane), mai-miaa (blackmarket fuel); whatever he is, he just has to be mai-something or mai-everything. He is a symbolism today to other Nigerians, of violence and the false face of Islam. He is ‘misunderstandingly’ understood.
Then we have the Alhaji, he is everything above but he is presumed rich, and in recent times dangerous too, he could be a sponsor of Boko Haram too, but for a ‘typical’ southerner, there is the allure of his riches whether via politics, oil, or ‘voodoo’ who cares. He is there in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos. He really doesn’t care about his North; he is a hypocrite to the core without his knowledge.
The region is on her knees, and at no other time than now has the North faced an identity crisis and fought within herself. Who are the Hausas, who are the Fulanis, and how about the Hausa- Fulanis, or Fulani Hausas, what really is the place of the Islam North, real, media creation, how about the Christians in the North, what is the true Southern Kaduna narrative?
Is the North still united, as was the case, what about her oligarchy and a few leftist socialist activists that set the talakawa agenda, what happened? What is it that needs to be understood about the alamanjiri system and institutional begging in the North?
Now, wait, this is a lie but who is afraid, I challenge any Christian to explain the myth of killing in the name of religion because there are 70 virgins somewhere. And before we scream, has the North been this violent, is it really about marginalization and if indeed, who marginalized who, Abacha, Shagari, IBB or Buhari, and how come Katsina has become a kidnap and killing field even with her son at the helm?
What do Northern Nigeria governors do to bring hospitals and good roads and schools even in their villages? I see on papers and speak with people who say Zulum of Borno is an exception, but should good governance not be the norm?
The North and the agitating Middle Belt is an emotional wreck, a perfect picture of an abused bride that today is even afraid of a hug of reconciliation, with rehabilitation and reconstruction a far cry as the destruction continues. If the North decides to go away from Nigeria, will the other component part fight to keep it and would it really be 19 states, is Plateau North, when there’s no love lost between the Plateau people and the North, does Taraba believe in North, Southern Kaduna, parts of Nassarawa, Benue, Kogi etc?
People still believe that up North we are all empty landmass and goats, unproductive, and leeching termites stuck on Nigeria because of the oil. Zamfara’s mines are gold for the asking and we could develop a self-sufficient and exportable agrarian community in the entire North so what is the problem?
What is the Arewa ideology? Everyone is on a blame ride, the bulk stops at Mr. Buhari’s table, but as ‘Northerners’ have we blamed him enough, tasked him enough, the TY Danjumas, or alfa IBB, Mallam Audu Ogbeh, Sir, El-Rufai or Rev. Lalong, Ministers, legislators, and their ilks from the North, what examples have they set?
So much is wrong with the North; I challenge my brothers from Katsina/Jigawa/Kebbi/Zamfara etc to tell me two companies that make N30M a month after salaries are paid and utilities are sorted.
The economy of the North has crumbled due to insecurity unleashed on the region by terrorists, bandits and the political elite and class, a huge army of unemployed youths in the North. And yet some prodigals think that the problem with us in the North is the New Bar Association for lawyers from the North, all our very hardworking governors, the political class and elite do not think they can muster enough political power and purpose with the traditional and religious institutions, to put an end to all the killings south of Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, Katsina, Adamawa, Yobe, and the epicentre Borno? We ranted that power must come back to the north, we took it from GEJ, with our usual it’s our birthright mentality. What have we done with it?
How many Ashaka/Larfarge cement companies do we have in the North, NASCO in Jos has since fainted like that NDDC dude, Kaduna textiles industry, since dead, buried and forgotten, and many industries in Kano rounding up funeral rites, and our concern is killing a musician for blasphemy…”who-do-us”?
Leadership in the North has not delivered for our people and these are sources of conflict and underlining frustrations that have not been adequately addressed. We have failed ourselves as a component part of Nigeria. With power, we have failed to give our people opportunity, education and resolve conflicts through regular democratic processes.
The human capital and young people lie waste, we are not educating our youth and providing them with the skill to compete in a highly technological, advanced world economy, while Nigeria has failed in this regard and the North has woefully crashed in the same vein.
The North is seen as a Fulani herdsman asking for reserves on other peoples’ lands and seeking nomadic education because we can’t do regular school. We need to bash ourselves, the North, arewa needs to stop lying to herself and her people, and the current realities are grim.
We need to think more, pray more, plan more, work harder, RELATE BETTER, and talk less. Battles are better fought and won through wisdom and strategy than through inflammable pronouncements and political tantrums.” This is to the North but it does apply to Nigeria, the current hate quotient is high, to what end—only time will tell.