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Rankling Poverty In The North That’s Dragging The South Down With It – Tony Abolo

The Oasis Reporters

June 22, 2019

Northern Nigeria in blue

“As an auditor, I used to work all over the North. You could see the vast land, but they don’t have basic infrastructure and didn’t have jobs. That was about 30 years ago and it was like a time bomb. When I was Chairman of Eko Hotels, I personally organized lectures to bring the plight of northern people to the Government, but Government turned deaf ears”. J. K. Randle, This Day, Sunday Newspaper, March 24th 2019 in a featured interview.

The Report by most Nigerian Newspapers that Billionaire Aliko Dangote, while speaking at the 2019 Kaduna Economic Summit, decried and lamented at the rankling rate of poverty in the North of Nigeria and that the land mass and agricultural potential of the North are more than enough not to downgrade the Region and consign it to poverty, got me thinking to respond not only to issues raised by him but speak to the unresponsive Northern elites who have chosen an irresponsible part that not only has spawned a shameful level of poverty in the North but is dragging the South equally down and in the mud with it.
I recall in 2017, when the embattled Emir of Kano, HRH, Muhammadu Lamido Sanusi, the Sarkin Kano, called out in the public space, that the North was using a 13th Century interpretation of the Koran to run its socio-political economy and that had the North East or North West of Nigeria been single countries, they would be the poorest on Earth. Of course, trust the ‘ostrich’ Northern elites, they were up in arms vilifying a voice of reason and truth. As usual, the North that is more keen, since Sir Ahmadu Bello days to keep its illiterate poor in sufficient numbers for electoral and census purposes, shouted the Emir down and reclined to its old consuetude ways (custom that has assumed the force of law).

And only a few weeks back, President Buhari, who ought to know, spewed out what indeed to me is more of crocodile tears, was quoted as saying that whenever he was passing by on roads and saw almajiris with begging bowls, his heart bleeds. Adding a rider, which is even sadder, from a President who is of Northern extraction, that for them (the almajiris), education seemed a luxury. It was then I knew that the North is a bad rotten case, and that if ever Nigeria must become, we all must consider the Northern phenomenon, a National tragedy, which we all as Nigerians, must collectively address.

In the course of getting this article started, an extremely helpful treatise from Premium Times on May 9th 2019, written by Majeed Dahiru and titled “Lamentations After Self Immolation in Northern Nigeria” was published. It not only eased my analysis scope, but also gave confirmation to my thesis, and advanced me in the notion that leadership is not Nigeria’s core problem. It clearly is not any more for me, for until the structural set up of the North, which is in three layers of societal strata according to Majeed Dahiru.

It is the impossible beneficial structure which CAN NEVER CREATE PROGRESS that is creating the stone feet of the North and a drag on Nigeria, since the North relies permanently on a FULANI FIRST Doctrine, a patently FALSE CENSUS figures (in terms of population and of Muslims in the North figures) and a bottom strata talakawas who are kept down deliberately, to ensure that the political, ruling and religious Northern elite, who keep the false narrative with their populace about the South being the “cheaters” and as those ‘depriving Northerners’ of their fair share in an incongruous unitary federation and who keep using the indoctrinated illiterates, scoundrels, unskilled almajiris and miscreants to be thumb printing for votes and turning those undiscerning millions who we are told into those who “love Buhari” and who consider him a “rock star” and an infallible “god”.

So long AS THIS IS THE SCENARIO, we will keep having wrong choices of persons, not only of those who emanate from the North, to lead the country, but also impossible to unravel those impossible issues that make Nigeria to be going in the wrong direction.
It is this false read of the reasons for the poverty, banditry and kidnapping in the North that caused President Buhari to create his bogus Social Intervention Programmes involving “Trader Moni”, “Conditional Cash Transfers”, ‘National Home-Grown School Feeding”, “N- Power” and Government Programme and Empowerment Programmes” which are merely “ponzi schemes” meant to address an “Almajiri Economy” which he recognises as objectified throughout the country with his Katsina-Daura eyes. He sees the entire national landscape as – an almajiri country. So much for what passes as leadership and governance in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, N472 billion has gone into his Social Intervention Schemes in the 4 years of Buhari’s presidency with dubious results as we now know, thanks to the screaming assessment of FIRST LADY, Mrs. Aisha Buhari – who has denounced the husband’s schemes as merely bogus and having NO IMPACT.
Trust the ever fawning Presidency to defend the “naked Emperor is clothed”. Mrs. Maryam Uwais, who is in charge of the “outlandish” social intervention schemes, stated that, Mrs. Aisha Buhari is ignorant of the processes of the scheme and is not properly briefed of the impact of the “well intentioned schemes” which has impacted some 30 million persons even if not in all the 36 states, and yet come to think of it, the programme was meant to operate in a country of 210 million persons.

Truth must be told. The archaic Feudal System in the North is at the root of the Nigerian tragedy. It is an unfair and unjust system that consigns the millions of almajiris (12 million, I read in all of the North, 3 million of which are in Kano) to a permanent life of illiteracy, begging and serfdom. How would such unskilled million persons transit to a modern economy?

Like Dahiru Majeed asserts, in no other Muslim country is there such an entrenched injustice and perpetual serfdom. Saudi Arabia where our top elite Northern elites go for Hajj and lesser Umrah is as modern a Muslim country as can be, even if they have their oddities and peculiarities. Dubai a Muslim wonder city, a favourite stop of the Nigerian upper class and most vacationing and trader Nigerians is a 21st Century city with all the trappings of entering the 22nd Century and with all of Artificial Intelligence applications and Robotics.

So, for any Northerner to keep precluding anyone from the South intruding into a “North Only Religious” experiment under the veneer of calling Christian Southerners “infidels” and even Southern Muslims, “lesser Muslims” and as persons who are most unqualified to invest, sojourn or speak to the painful circumstances of years of wrong headed religious fervour and hermetic treatment of their “talakawas”, who are no more than modern day slaves is merely a false attitude, which the South should no longer condone. For it is that neglect to restructure itself and Nigeria and to modernize that is dragging Nigeria down. It could have been addressed over the years, if only the “power distance” between the third tier layer in the Northern Society were addressed differently and built for not just a future Northern Society, but a future prosperous Nigeria.

Sadly, if we may regard the “Hofstede Power Distance Index” as it pertains to Nigeria, in the words of Remi Adekoya (Business Day, 9th May 2019), the less powerful members of a society, always the majority expect and accept unequal distribution of power”. This, according to Adekoya, “signals a strong propensity in Nigerian Society (read Northern Society) to accept a hierarchical order with significant power inequalities that (have) no justification”.

This attitude is further reinforced by the Northern Political elite who asks the religious clergy to preach in the mosques and at every opportunity that the serfs, slaves and talakawas should accept their lot (of suffering) and I guess, as God ordained. This, of course means in converse, God has approved from Heaven, the overflowing blessings the Northern Elites enjoy. This then would explain the shoe shining boxes and polishes that Governor Ganduje used in “blessing” his Kano talakawas. And with the Muslim faithfuls living in poverty with uncontrolled fertility, there would be enough “human supply” in 2023. Little wonder the North is speaking arrogantly about holding on to “power” beyond 2030.

Of course why not?

The slaves and thumb printers are in their millions. The “future” is assured and power guaranteed.
But I dare say, the dam is long broken. Debo Sobowale in his famous column in the Vanguard, some four Sundays or so back wrote of, the “revolt of the “slaves” in what he termed the “Revolt of the Almajiris”.

What with the wide scale banditry and kidnapping, the genie is out of the bottle. When a kidnapper can make N10 million in an escapade, why take a bowl to beg and collect only N10 in a day. The North in its ignorance of not thinking strategically about the future has made itself a global laughing stock. The crisis is what is now beyond what an occupying Federal Government, now being run as a Fulani Northern establishment, with its panoply of Fulani and Muslim Generals, can contain either with guns, muscles or admonitions. The horse has long bolted from the stable.

It will now take Nigeria as a whole to bring the crisis to a halt. The first natural response to the North, which has kept a deaf ear to the two twin demands of restructuring and state policemen must now urgently have a re-think otherwise, we are on our way to an inevitable disintegration.

As no one can condone this unending anomie, anarchy and no clear path to progress or a brighter future. If the North wants some help in its current helplessness and “exporting” destabilization and insecurity to the south, I would encourage them to assemble its honest intellectuals, which it has an abundance of, but have been suppressed under the guise of feudalism.

Secondly some bright ideas were propounded by Femi Orebe on Sunday May 19th, 2019 in the Nation, p20, under the title Insecurity: It is time for a Marshall Plan for the North). His ideas could seed a “revolution” to bring sanity to the North – like a rehabilitation of millions of Almajiris and out of school children, Northen billionaires to use their billions in uplifting the standard of living of the poor and talakawas in order to end their groveling and rankadede obsequiousness, EFCC close monitoring of governors while in office, to ensuring proper utilization and application of public funds, Sambisa forest being converted to a massive skill acquisition centre and a massive agricultural land.

And lastly, most importantly that in order that these ideas, conceived as a “Marshal Plan” should be a national recovery project and therefore, Southerners should contribute funds, skills and manpower. These to my mind, if the Northern Elite would climb down from their “religious horses”, this is how shoulder to shoulder we can build a nation. Failing their heeding these kind of advise, let us go each our ways so that we can all have peace and avoid Rwanda, Somalia, DRC, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria is far too important for a “jihad”, by any name it is called or a Fulani supremacy agenda, as the ominous anarchy in Nigeria, smacks of an evil agenda contrary to the unending denials.

Written by Tony Abolo

One time BBC London correspondent in Brussels, Belgium.
He was recently a University teacher of Mass Communication and Public Relations Practitioner.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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