A region with two third of the landmass of the country, more than half of its population, tens of precious natural resources that includes oil, gold, bitumen, glass, tin and many more that each (if harnessed properly) could supply the much needed forex cash flow.
A huge agricultural base, that supports the whole country before the discovery of oil, an industry that was deliberately turned moribund. Since independence the region’s elites produce the top hierarchy in governance which unfortunately translated only into negative indices ranging from poverty, illiteracy and impoverishment.
Post independence generation and their protégés still call the shot in the region and beyond as they tenaciously clung onto power. They are the generation that ruined the north and refused to allow others to save it. I laugh at the current set of groups in the region that gullibly follow the script of their paymasters in waging a campaign under all kinds of slogan for saving the north.
A professor friend of mine called me last week in response to an article I wrote asking how could we change the situation. He even suggests rallying around the leadership of the current northern coalition. I was skeptical, considering I understood the kind of mindset those guys have.
If you look at the way and manner the northern coalition carry about its mission, it is either they are hoodwink or knowingly serving the northern elites interest simply because they always look at the problems in the north as externally inflicted.
Their rhetoric’s points one accusing finger to external forces forgetting the other three fingers that points inward, loudly emphasizing the problems are self-inflicted.
Our elites since independence ride on the conflict between the north and south as a rallying point for the masses. Whipping that regional sentiment beclouded people in the region not to look critically at the elites on how they continue to plunder and impoverished the northern masses.
This is the same card being played by groups like the northern coalition, that was in use by the elites since independence and it will never takes us to the expected Eldorado.
A popular saying implies identifying a problem is halfway through its solution, a cardinal mindset the north failed to live up to. We also failed by heaping most of our blames on the elites and excusing the led. Even though it is true when a heart is pure, the body will be a reflection of that purity but at the same time even if the elites want to bring about change it wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of the masses.
The masses are the custodians of our moral values as the perpetual cycle of imparting standard morality from parent to child is sustained. We collectively failed in that regard and you just can’t heap the blame on the elites.
Few decades ago, the northern man is an embodiment of morality and the transfer of moral code is everybody’s business. The Hausa adage says it all “Da na kowa ne” meaning every child matters, and it was religiously and judiciously observed in our communities.
Today even in a particular household you may find a father wanting the moral code imparted to the child (even forcibly) but the mother may the stumbling block and vice versa. Or a person in his brother’s house is afraid to scold his niece or nephew, afraid of what the parent’s reaction might be.
With the destruction of collective moral upbringing, the whole society becomes vulnerable to all ills as we are witnessing today.
In the mid 1990’s, Rwandans perpetrated the most heinous ethnic cleansing in modern history (800,000 people killed in a month), but two decades later they rise as the most successful African Nation, simply because they were fortunate to have a visionary leader and the masses have learnt from that bitter lesson of the genocide.
In Nigeria, more than a million souls perished in the civil war and only God knows how many during the decade long Boko Haram insurgency, both of which failed to make us learn our lesson.
The fourth republic, from 1999 date, is removing all hope for Nigerians taking a path like that of Rwanda.
Indeed we are not fortunate to have a leader like Kagame, as our two nationalists who happened to participate in our civil war, Obasanjo and Buhari, failed to appreciate God’s special favor on them for having an opportunity to serve the nation twice under both military and civil rule.
PDP squandered its 16 years in power as APC, from all indication, is going to squander half of that come 2023. I have never seen someone as fortunate as Buhari considering in modern day politics no one has vied for the presidency 4 times consecutively and winning it eventually.
The tremendous goodwill he enjoyed is unprecedented in modern politics but as the years go by so do our hopes wane. The incessant killings in the Katsina-Zamfara axis are worrisome and must be our last straw to rise to the challenge as we have never done before.
The northwest region is the most populous, fertile and richest in resources but clung to the lowest rung of all positive indices, why? Atop our poverty is the escalation of violence through banditry and kidnap. It isn’t rocket science to join the dots in a simple arithmetic of more people to feed and cater for, yet poorest in infrastructure (financial, economic and social).
What do we do? It is high time we realize that politicians, APC and PDP, are just birds of the same feathers in different colors. As Buhari is failing, and woefully at that, who else do you think could be our next savior? Could anyone command the kind of trust he enjoyed in 2015? A resounding no!
The only option available for us now is to forget national politics and concentrate in local politics. People must go back to the grassroot and rebuild the north from ground up, that is the only way to build anything meaningful. The politicians at the top will never rebuild our region simply because they don’t care as they continue to plunder and impoverish the region, it is only people who cares that can.
From the ward level people must take matters of governance into their own hands by scouting people among themselves that are interested in serving not ruling. Let each community bring forth people they vetted, sponsor them and vote them into local councils.
Let no politician spend any money in order to be elected councilor or chairman as that will naturally prohibits him from thinking he bought his position. I remember one arrogant senator that is late from Kano that used to boast to people from his constituents’ when he refused them audience that he “Bought his seat” and they can go to hell.
Killing money politics at the grassroots will embolden conscientious citizen that want to serve people to offer themselves (what many are afraid to do so far). The next step is each community must have a working document drafted by its own intellectuals on what that particular community expects from its elected official and have them sign an agreement, with a clause emphasizing any derailment from plan by the official will warrant their impeachment (Lagosians on my mind and how they stopped Ambode).
If communities in the north will adapt this strategy and with the recent passage of autonomy of Local Government finance, we may have a hope in re-engineering our politics at the grassroot to start serving the people not the elites.
This is the coalition the north needs and all groups (physical and social media) should start the campaign now. The north needs to re-invent community cooperation which is the only way we can charter a new future where our rising generation can participate and contribute towards meaningful development.
With community development and synergy we can elect people that will serve us which will open doors for redistribution of wealth that will curb the menace of insecurity and other social ills. People everywhere in the north are fed up with the status quo but no matter how long we cry, unless we come together and start something, we will continue to lament till the end of time.
It is unfortunate that today, three of us cannot sit together and work on something positive without facing the challenges of envy among ourselves. We must not forget that if we cannot come together and do it ourselves, no one can come from anywhere and do it for us.
So much of our problem are soluble if only we can work together, take the climate change threat, a simple commitment of planting trees is our solution and you don’t need government or an elite to make it a reality.
On drugs we allow known pushers to operate in our neighborhoods under our very eyes and failed to demand justice when some of them are on trial. We all promote almajiranci by capitalizing on their cheap labor as domestic workers, while our children are in school.
We promote early marriage and allow arbitrary power of divorce on men. We hoard our monies in banks instead of investing in the economy. We care less about excellence and became prophets of nepotism. We so much love religion that we could kill for it but oblivious of all its fundamentals like Zakat.
In fact we are so self-centered that a father could not sacrifice his life to better the life of his children. I am sorry to say we are so rotten and that is why we are here and unless we cleanse ourselves from this cancer of selfishness and self-pity, we are on a collision course with self destruction.
Therefore the only option we have is to rise up before the next election and re-invent our community consciousness and take over local councils in the region, let’s jettison national politics for now as we cannot change it as we are. But there is hope if we can change the grassroot system of politics and governance, in time we will influence states and eventually national politics.
No one can build from the top, you must start from the ground and no one will come from anywhere to do it for you. We either do it or perish with the frustration of failure and a sure curse from posterity.
Ali Abubakar Sadiq