The Emir of Kano, Sanusis Lamido Sanusi, few days ago threw a bombshell when he said the northern part of the country, as a region was on the path of destruction if it does not change. He spoke in Kaduna at a programme to commemorate the 60th birthday celebration of Governor Nasir el-Rufai. He said 87 percent of poverty in Nigeria is in the north with millions of northern out-of-school children while nine states in the north are contributing almost 50 percent of the entire malnutrition burden in the country.
According to him, “the rest of the country cannot be investing, educating its children, producing graduates and then they watch us, they can’t get jobs because they come from the wrong state when we have not invested in the future of our own children”.
Sanusi therefore declared that “if the north does not change, the north will destroy itself”.
What does the north as an entity therefore needs to do in order to avert this looming destruction as predicted by one of its own influential leaders? What are those changes that must take place and what are those things the people of the north must do differently so that the region does not go into extinction?
Some northern leaders, while agreeing with the Emir on his position answered these questions even as they lambasted the past political leaders from the north for being responsible for the backwardness of the region.
Alhaji Hussain Dambam, community leader
“The North needs to enact population control laws in all northern states to check uncontrolled population growth. The Emir was right, Nigeria’s population has been projected to be 400 million by 2050, and a large chunk of that population will be here in the North. If we refuse to do something about it now, we will be heading for an implosion. I think the North has to come together as a region to enact population control laws that will check unnecessary birth increase in the region. But first, our royal fathers must play the role of sensitizing their subjects on the benefits of having fewer children, especially in this period of economic hardship”.
Ismaila Ahmed, Bauchi leader
“Northern Nigeria has the potential to be an economic hub, like China and India if it engages its women and youths in productive ventures. I don’t see any sense in telling a man how many children he should have, it’s not realistic. We should instead, look inwards to see how we can engage our women and youths in productive ventures to develop our region and country. Look at what China and India are doing with their population. Many years ago, people thought that their population was a liability to the world but the reverse is the case today because they have industrialized their systems. Our problem is poor leadership and selfishness. For this set of northern leaders, it’s ‘me, myself and I’. If we have industries scattered across the region, nobody will be talking about destroying anything”
Chief Jethro Akun, former Deputy Governor of Plateau State
“What the North should do is to create more jobs to be able to accommodate the youths, we should unite and educate the people on the need to live together. The correct message from the holy books must be preached to dispel the feeling of those who think that if you kill, you will have a place in heaven, they are doing it out of ignorance.”
Salisu Nakande, former Minister of Information
“There is need to tackle headlong the issue of mass education for the people of the north. When we have education, then we will free ourselves from all the challenges of drug abuse, cultism, insurgency because if you don’t have education, even the insurgency itself gets recruits from the uneducated northern youth.”
Sani Mudi, Public Relations Officer, Ja’amatu Nasril Islam, JNI
“We have to look at the ills pervading the northern society which are illiteracy, ignorance and crippling poverty because people have refused to embrace hard work. We have thrown away the virtue of honesty, the virtue of living together as a family, this is very sad. If you look at it, it is only in the north that you see people building houses of N100million or even N1billion in a community that does not even have a primary school to take care of the young ones. One of the factors driving these people is frustration because they don’t have any hope in life. The well-to-do have to search their conscience and ask themselves if they are doing the right thing. You have someone driving a vehicle of N50million and has a dozen of that in his house, even vehicles conveying his children to school are multi-million naira vehicles, why is that so? The well-to-do, the political elite in the north should ask themselves if they are doing the right thing and what they want posterity to remember them for. Once that is done, I think we will have proper focus on education, healthcare, micro-economy to sustain the people at the grassroots.
Chief Edward Ujege, Chairman of Benue State Tribal Leaders
The fact is that the North as a unit is not favorable to most northerners especially people who come from the middle belt. So it is even better that the north doesn’t exit anymore. We are all one Nigeria, we should first and foremost be Nigerians before the north. Every person should first be a Nigerian before we start claiming north. I, as an individual do not believe in the element called north at the moment because equity and fair play is not there. So we should all teach ourselves to be Nigerians. Everybody, in whichever part of Nigeria you are, that should be our sing song. Like in America, Americans are Americans you can go and live in a place for six months and you become a citizen of that state. Why can’t we have something like that in Nigeria. If you live anywhere within six months you should be recognized as an indigene of that state. And for that reason vie for any position in that place. That is what we should try to achieve in this country and not engage in politics of north, south, east and west. That is what we should strive to achieve, where every Nigeria will see himself or herself as a Nigerian first and foremost and not clinging to primordial sentiments of claiming to come from one section of the country or the other. That should also lead us to the point of ensuring merit and equity in the system to enable us forge ahead as an indivisible entity.
Dr. Pogu Bitrus, National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF
Many of us believe that the kind of indoctrination that is causing the people to behave the way they are behaving is basically lack of education. So if the north doesn’t fully embrace education and do it properly in a way that the youths will not be easily indoctrinated, then the north will destroy itself.
Secondly, there are policies that northern leadership like President Buhari is dishing out to the country. Today for the very first time Nigerians are telling the leader and Commander-in-Chief that his Service Chiefs are not doing their jobs and that the security in the country has collapsed but the man is holding on to this collapsed system. Something is wrong and if the north that produced and sponsored him to that place does not make him to change that kind of behavior the north will destroy itself and the country will equally be destroyed.