In the configuration of the Nigerian project, the north represents both an asset and a liability, a beacon of hope and a cauldron of despair, a complex mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Unlikethe south, which is mostly rain forests that taper our to the ocean, the north presents a wide array of vegetation that are ideal for farming of certain crops and for husbandry, and with 65% of the Nation’s land mass, and 200 of her 265 ethnic nationalities, is equipped with the human and material resources to propel Nigeria to greatness.
Unfortunately, it is also the country’s most backward region.
Using the Human Development Index, the poverty level of the North doubles that of the South, the infant mortality rate is the highest in sub saharan Africa, and it still harbors diseases that have been eradicated in most part of the world.
And yet, in a cruel twist of fate, ably assisted by a colonial power seduced by the outward serenity of the Fulani ruling class based on the extreme application of the Sharia code, but ignored the inherent administrative incompetence of an entitled ruling class, the North has led Nigeria for about forty of her fifty years, with barely nothing to show for it.
Sure, they built a new capital city out of nothing in their backyard. They also ensured eternal dominance by deepening the unitary system, originally introduced by Aguinyi Ironsi as a platform for dominance by his ethnic group, with which they now ensured substantial presence in any government irrespective of who heads it, heck, they even piped oil over a thousand kilometers to refine in Kaduna. Yet, compared to the South in human development terms, they remain at subsistence level.
While the political leadership in the South, especially in the fourth republic has been less than impressive, but when compared to the North, especially in the key area of reining in their fringe elements, the Southern leaders have shown they have more moral persuasion techniques than their northern counterparts.
Now, let us assume, without conceding, that during the Jonathan years, the average northern elite had a covert sympathy for the Boko Haramists, much like what the Yoruba elite have for OPC, The Igbo elite for MASSOB, and recently, Radio Biafra, and the South South for the Niger Delta Militants. But, Jonathan is gone! What excuse do they have now?
At every point that the political leadership of other zones realized that these groups are at a point at which they can harm their collective interest, they moved in and curtailed it, why can’t the North do the same for Buhari?
Could it be that unlike the South, the Northern leadership only sees these people as pawns, to be used to get power, and therefore has no moral authority to call them to order?
Or is it because they are so far gone in their mind set of political entitlement that they failed to realise that their children have grown up in anger, and are now fighting back, using Islam, the only tool they know, as a launch pad?
Are they so spoiled with the trappings of power that they fail to see that the Mutallabs and the Ogbuches, children of the noveau rich caught engaging in acts of terrorism are the rule, not the exception?
When will they realize that it was their failure, not western education, not the South, and definitely not Islam, that is responsible for the insurgency?
I feel sad when I hear some northern leaders asking that money be thrown at the problem, what happened to the trillions of dollars that was given in the last fifty years?
Accepting that there is a problem is the first step in fixing it. Methinks the North still sees this insurgency as an opportunity to get a NigerDelta like bailout, and not as a product of their perennial leadership failure at all levels.
As we say in Ibadan….They just don’t understand, but they will understand, tomorrow….
My Ten Kobo.