In the 9th century a set of kingdoms emerged as Northern Nigeria to replace the Kabara Nation. These kingdoms share similar ethno-historical dynamic cemented in their belief in a common origin. The lore of the Fourteen Kingdoms unifies the diverse heritage of Northern Nigeria into cohesive system. Seven of these kingdoms developed from the Kabara legacy of the Hausa people. As vibrant trading centers competing with Kenam-Burno and Mali slowly developed in the central Sudan, a set kingdom merged dominating the great Savannah plains of Hausa land. There primary exports were groundnut, leather, gold, cloth/cotton, salt, kola nuts, animal hides, and henna.
The Hausa were becoming one of the Africa Major powers. The architecture of the Hausa is perhaps one of the well known and most beautiful of the medieval age. By 1500CE the Hausa utilized Arabic script known as Ajami to record their own language. Despite diversity in tribes and culture of people of Northern Nigeria the remains united. On March 15th, 1953, Northern Nigeria got its independence after years of British rule, with Sir Ahmadu Bello as its first premier.
The Northern People’s Congress (NPC) under Sir Ahmadu Bello dominated parliament while the Northern Element Progressing Union (NEPU) became the main opposition party but there we no fighting between the two party men. Since then North has been under central government under the premier Sir Ahmadu Bello who unite all the tribes of North which leads to have unity in diversity. Since then premier’s office became home for all Northerners and Sir Ahmadu Bello made structural and economic plans for the North.
At the time when there was no technology, and no structures the northern leaders developed them from the scratch. They built Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABUZ), Institute of Administration, Kaduna Polytechnic, Colleges of Education, Government Secondary Schools to mention but a few.
They also set up the Northern Nigerian Development Corporation, Northern Nigeria Investment Limited, Sir Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria, New Nigerian Newspapers, Textile factories such as Kaduna Textile Mills, Zamfara Textiles, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria, Northern Oil Processing mill, Sword Branch Bottling Company, Nigerian Breweries Ltd, Hamdala Hotel, Kano groundnut pyramid, Central Hotel, Bank of the North, Northern Nigeria Radio Corporation to mention but a few. With this legacy, should every son and daughter of the Northern Nigeria not walk like a King or Queen? Yet, today all these institutions has been killed and buried by our present leaders/elders that refuse to develop a professional style of managing these great institutions. Today rather than administering these institutions and companies but preside over their funerals, what are left now are their carcasses.
Today, we turn back at all the ideas that guided our heroes. Despite its shortcomings, they were determined to ensure that North was not lagging behind. To do this our heroes (Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Malam Aminu Kano etc) undertook to navigate a very difficult and treacherous terrain without clear compass. Our heroes tried to wield together a medley of people with conflicting and challenging histories, cultures, aspirations, religions and so on. To make it worst people did not as yet posses such weapons for the construction of a modern state as technology and education. Yet the program of Adult Education (Yaki da Jahilci) helped many poor farmers gain some levels of literacy.
The North is in turmoil now and the reasons are so many. The turmoil is the result of the sickness that afflicted the nation after our heroes were killed and some die naturally. The North today is 19 states, it came to my knowledge that most boys in my neighborhood are into drugs, smoking, thuggry, and even alcohols and most of them are of my age bracket, 20-35years of age. At this time, kidnapping in Abuja, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara is as rampant as Kidnappers control the roads and forest within. Boko Haram, a criminal band of murderers took whole of the North and turned it into a wasteland no body visit. Millions of lives were lost, north today has more orphans and widows, our girls are killed and some were forced into marriage. Agriculture is no longer of practice today everyone is running for white collar job, our groundnut pyramid is lost, our railway line are dead and our state governors has to wait for federal allocation before they pay salaries. Northerners are merely looking up at the federal government and refusing to take full charge of what is clearly and mostly our battle or the result of our disunity and negligence. Although the economic downturn implicated in the current socio-political crises, the truth remains that for too long, we ignored the warning signals. For decades, the UNDP told us that certain percent of Northern Nigerians were living on less than $1 a day. What did we do to prevent the incoming disaster? We stop farming because of petroleum. One doesn’t have to be a development expert to know that any country where the bulk of the youth are unemployed or unemployable is headed for chronic insecurity. If you check the poverty and unemployment rates of countries with the least incidence of crime and you will get a better idea of what I am saying. When young men and young women wake up in the morning with nowhere to go, they are tempting the devil. He will give them something to do. Their energies will be misused and abused as they struggle to survive. No human being will sit down at home and die of hunger. Survival is a basic human instinct. The human being will survive by any means necessary even if it is to steal, beg or borrow.
The Northern Nigerian elite must get the message that they could not continue in their ways and expect peace and safety. There is a lot of frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment in the land. When the blood relations of wealthy people are being safe and the poor people are being kidnapped, their farms being destroyed and made as territory for criminals that are a clear danger signal to the elite.
You have a comfortable life yet you cannot go to your village or place of birth. Your cook, security guard and the policemen guarding you are all human beings and have relatives in one village or the other where this terrorism takes place. They all feel the pains of the happening around them. Some people (Elites) reading this may be so angry and may even think that I am sowing evil ideas in the minds of their domestic staff. I just want to engage in constructive debates normally using decent language. I am just writing to only forewarn on a disturbing development with the sole aim of gingering our leaders to act. Growing criminality is a product of our broken social system that deprives the majority of Northerners the basics of life such as roads, water, healthcare, education, security and jobs. I am fighting for social justice. I am warning the elite that they were not safe in their fortresses no matter how many police escorts they have. As a young boy, all I did is to hold up a mirror for the society to look at itself. Breaking the mirror will not change the picture.
The inequality in northern region has been too much for too long.
Our hospitals are rejecting poor patients because there is no bed space. Pupils are sitting on the floor to learn in primary and secondary schools the governor cannot allow his relatives to attend. Such a society cannot escape doom. I always ask: “What is the way forward? More policemen? More bullet-proof SUVs? More flying abroad for medical treatments? More mansions? More signs of ‘military zone, keep off’?” I then replied that I don’t know, but I have urge that more equitable management of resources could be of help. I suspect that more jobs, more housing, more medicine, more books, better roads, and better power supply would be of use. I suspect that less looting, less waste of resources would go some way. But if things continue the way they are, there is no doubt about it; one day, the long-suffering people of this region will react. ? May be in rebellion? Rebellion seems to be in full motion today as North groaning under the pandemic of Book Haram, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, and all kinds of criminality. Worse still, the security system cannot protect either the rich or the poor. We should ask ourselves how we got here. Where and when did the rain begin to beat us? If only we could retrace our footsteps, we will gain sight. We can then begin to sow a different seed today so that we can reap a different harvest tomorrow.
Over time, I watched as some members of the House of Representatives took turns to lament the state of insecurity in the northern region. One speaker after the other complained that they can no longer travel to or sleep in their villages because of insecurity. They are overwhelmed by the army of criminals. However, they just cannot see a link between their greed their obscene allowances, their extortion-driven oversight activities as well as the padded budgets and the poverty and insecurity in the land. That is the problem with Nigerian politicians; they think Nigeria is like this by mistake. They think if we are able to deploy more troops, kidnapping will stop. If only it were that simple! These politicians have to know that police and the army combined cannot contain crime when the factory producing criminals has not been closed. The teens and teenagers that we refused to care for yesterday have become our nemesis today. They are now in our neighborhood and on the highway, making life unbearable for us. The security system we failed to overhaul and modernize for ages despite security budgets in billions of dollars is now unable to protect us. But if I may ask, what are we doing today to make sure our trouble does not double tomorrow? Are we investing properly in the future? Are we striving hard to make the country conducive in the future so that ordinary people can enjoy the basics of life? Our predatory system will continue to breed terrorists, kidnappers, ritual killers, and circumstantial sex workers. What we are witnessing today would be child’s play compared to what is ahead.
Let me say this again: the Northern elite need to have a meeting, perhaps a meeting of patriotism and agree to change the ways things happen. We cannot run a system where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and expect peace. We have been living a lie for too long. Commonsense tells us that inequality comes with a price. We cannot sustain a system that ruins the lives of the majority of people of the northern region and hope to sleep and snore at night.
Kano state has tried by signing MOU on the revival of the textile industries so does Kaduna state. Rice Company in Kebbi state tried in putting a shining star in north.
The recent boarder closure by Federal Government has helped in creating and establishing many Rice mills in and across the northern states. How I wish states in the North will look at abundant resources and establish a company that will give our teaming population job and business opportunities.
How I wish our heroes are alive to run with this vision because present leaders of the north who benefited prodigiously from their policies think of no one but themselves. Will they shift their gaze from influence padding, manning the choicest ministries and government agencies, oil blocks and crude oil lifting contracts to look upon their own suffering masses? Will they be willing to stop the exploitation of the minds of their own people while they grow obscenely rich? These are leaders who as military and civilian rulers are responsible for disgraceful failures of Northern Nigeria and the abject poverty which every study has found to be more acute in the north. It is traditional, perhaps fashionable but nonetheless selfish to make northern communities believe God ordained one person in their community to be the heart of that community whose name he bears.
When many fingers are pointing it means the blame goes to everyone, firstly the parents who mostly run from their responsibilities and make them powerless on their children. More so, the constituted authorities ranging from village heads, security agencies, security forces, legislators and executives who in one way or the other release after arrest of a guilt person without taking him/her to court of law. Finally, the politicians who use the waste people in the society to attain their selfish goals, why don’t they join with their own children but rather send their children abroad for studies and waste other people’s children (talaka garu dadin tsallakawa).
Nobody is safe in north, including those who think they are covered by a convoy of armed escorts. It is just a matter of time. Until we begin to sow the good seeds at all levels government our troubles will keep growing bigger.
Zozo Jawal Barau