BY SIMON REEF MUSA
The North that once gave vent to regional development now insists against devolution of power, with its former peaceful ambience now enmeshed in bloodshed and destruction. Amidst the torrent of interminable massacres ripping across the region, the underbelly of hypocrisy and monstrous duplicity of its existence has now been exposed, its fountain of inspiring leadership now replaced with corrupt leadership, made worse by its revolting greed and acquisition of ill-wealth by its leaders.
The inheritors of Sir Ahmadu Bello’s legacies have fallen prey to rot and corruption as their insatiable thirst for power thirst is opening up an endless flowing stream of human barbarities that is dumbfounding the international community. Kidnappings, cattle rustlings, discriminatory practices on basis of faith, subjugation of small ethnic groups, seizure of lands, invasion of communities in the name of farmers/herders’ clashes, spiraling level of poverty and the abandoning of millions of kids on the streets are northern spectacles.
Not too long after independence, it was ostensible for discerning minds to predict that the road to nationhood would almost insurmountable hurdles. It was all too clear that the departing British imperial powers had played god in ensuring the North became the political leader of Nigeria. The collapse of the First Republic and the revenge coup that soon followed provided a foundation for the evils that has pursued and still pursuing us as a nation.
Less than seven month to 60 years of our independence, the North has continued to be the albatross of our march to greatness. With large expanses of land for agriculture, the North has failed to turn itself into an agriculture wonderland. Instead, Arewa through some of the state governors are enmeshed in seizing lands for grazing from ethnic national nationalities who are not herdsmen. The once peaceful Northern communities have been turned into warring citizens, with the power cabal attempting to distract attention from their evil incompetence. In the fight for riches and wealth, the elite who are the greatest beneficiaries of one North are now engaged in exacerbating fires of destruction.
Several years of military regimes have placed North and its cronies on the peak of political leadership. More than anything, the born-to-rule syndrome of the Northern power elite was acquired and strengthened by capacity to build consensus across various zones for political action. Unfortunately, in the course of pursuing their egocentric interests, the bigger picture of national development was lost and the ascendancy to power for its sake became a primary preoccupation.
The hair-rising wailing over grisly but avoidable murders in the North is a clear invitation to imminent rebellion from its enslaved citizens. Cursed with lethargy of a political leadership that is focused on living a life of luxury, the inability of the North to resolve its many challenges heralds a troubling future. With the Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirming that 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are living in the House that Sardauna built, a fertile ground has been found for recruiting members into insurgencies. Little wonder, the North-east zone is now the global funding headquarters against insurgents.
The targeting of Christian communities by terrorists and bandits all fall in line with a sinister plan to further decimate and weaken those outside the power cabal. The silence of some Christian leaders has emasculated the voice crying out against oppression. However, the domination in political leadership by the power cabal is gradually being diminished due to challenges confronting the North. The panic bell has sounded too long ago as the march to concession or face rebellion cannot be avoided. The in-appositeness of the power elite has become too glaring when viewed against the rampaging and cascading poverty eating up the region amidst stupendous wealth displayed by so few of them. The alienation of other ethnic nationalities by the power cabal and destruction of cherished values have made the end of the fraud called North an unavoidable option.
In the attempt to impose a monolithic North and promote one ethnic group and religion above the others make the destruction of the North an imperative. One may ask, why is the present government so desperately interested in creating RUGA, cattle ranches and colonies despite protests? Is the North only for one ethnic group? Why is the North interested in insisting on making the centre so powerful than devolve powers to federating units? Why is the North insisting on the promotion of the economy of cow over others that have existed long before herding of cows started?
In disturbing the peace of the North, there is a deliberate plan to dispossess ethnic minorities of their lands and hand same over to herdsmen. In Kaduna State for instance, the Kaduna State Government has seized over 73,000 hectares of land as Ladugga Grazing Reserve without paying a dime to the land owners. If the state government paid N500 million to land owners for the Olam Flour Mills, why deny same to those who own the land in the southern part of Kaduna state. Presently, there are massive movements of people from only God-knows-where from to take over ancestral lands belonging to ethnic nationalities.
There is a wind of change that will soon start blowing across not only the North but the country. It will not be for restructuring; self-determination will be the new song. If the present political leaders have failed to address the fraud in the North, let them be assured that there is coming a generation that will be bold enough to demand for their rights. No firearms and power of official oppression and suppression can stop them when they start screaming: “Give us justice or give us death!” And that could be too late as the skies would be turned red with the blood of innocent citizens.
Resolving this fraud called North will ultimately lead to resolving the ills that have confronted the Nigerian state. If the old altars that have held down the North is not pulled down, the nation’s march to greatness will continue to be a mirage.