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Opinion Politics

Northern Nigeria Ditched by Its Own Leaders

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By Abdul-Azeez Suleiman

Northern Nigeria has been abandoned by its own leaders, who have shown a lack of courage and capacity to effectively lead the region. While these leaders enjoy the luxuries afforded by their ill-gotten wealth, the North is being systematically marginalized, destroyed, and weakened.

Throughout the years, Northern Nigeria has been neglected by successive administrations. Under Obasanjo, 70% of retired military officers were Northerners, and this trend continued under Goodluck and Buhari. Despite this clear bias, the leaders turned a blind eye to the problem, showing a lack of concern for the North.

The disparity in resource allocation is also evident. For the past 20 years, 70% of the Nigerian budget has gone to the South, while 80% of electricity generated is consumed by the South. Additionally, 90% of federal scholarships are awarded to students from the South, and 70% of foreign investment is directed towards the South.

Federal jobs and international trade with government intervention also heavily favor the South. Meanwhile, over 200,000 Southern students receive free education in the North, while Northern settlements and businesses in the South have been destroyed. This blatant discrimination further exacerbates the marginalization of the North while the region’s afrighted elite pretend all is well.

The neglect and marginalization of the North is not a recent phenomenon. Historical events, such as the killing of Tafawa Balewa and other Northern political and military leaders, serve as a reminder of the dangers of remaining silent in the face of marginalization. Similar patterns can be seen in other countries, such as Bosnia and Myanmar, where silence and complacency led to massacres.

The typology of unrest and insecurity in parts of the northern region today is a matter of great concern for all well-meaning Nigerians and friends alike. In recent times, these issues have taken on a more serious dimension, with underground forces driving the unrest and fueling tensions in order to render large swathes of the country ungovernable, particularly in the North.

It is evident that the unrests in the North are being instigated by powerful interests across some states, with the aim of achieving certain hidden objectives. These agents of mayhem have been desperately trying to create anarchy in the country since independence, but their efforts have been woefully unsuccessful. Now, they are resorting to other means to achieve their nefarious aims.

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One of the most alarming aspects of this situation is the various attempts being made to destroy the North by instigating violence through exploiting cleavages of religious and ethnic nature. These attempts are aimed at causing disharmony and facilitating the breakup of the region.

For centuries, the land north of the Niger has been occupied and its treasures shared by its inhabitants. From the highlands of Mambilla to the plains of Kagoro and Kontagora, to the hills and valleys of Shendam, farmers and herdsmen have called every space their home.

Like many communities across the world, the history of the North is replete with disputes and isolated incidents over land. However, the fact that the region has managed to live together and prosper for so long is a testament to its ability to accommodate differences and address agitations.

Today, there is a growing population in the North, which brings with it a growing demand for grazing and farming. Additionally, the region is also grappling with the effects of climate change and desertification, particularly in the far North. These natural phenomena, coupled with the short-sightedness of its leaders who destroyed the areas duly demarcated and gazetted before independence, have contributed to the current stretch over space.

These occasional misunderstandings that were once resolved at the community level have been manipulated and turned into avenues for venting tribal and religious jealousies.

This manipulation has resulted in heavy loss of lives and valuable resources, escalating existing challenges such as the herdsmen and farmers clashes. The deliberate exploitation of these conflicts, which have been ongoing for centuries, are part of a clandestine plot to destabilize and decapitate the North by exploiting internal weaknesses and cleavages.

The current pattern of insecurity and violence in the Northern region is not a recent phenomenon but has its roots in history.

During President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the North was plagued by a mysterious Boko Haram insurgency, with the majority of casualties being northern Muslims. This insurgency was followed by the introduction of cattle rustling in the North-West, aimed at undermining the region’s economic viability.

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This agenda gradually spread to other states in the North Central, transforming into the deadly trend we witness today.
Following the defeat of the Jonathan administration in 2015, the anti-North agenda resurfaced through carefully crafted stories of herdsmen attacks. These stories were used to justify mass killings of Fulani in many states of the North, leading to stereotyping, stigmatization, and forceful expulsions from other parts of the country.

The destruction in the North continues unabated, leaving countless lives shattered and communities in ruins. Yet, the leaders elected to represent the people in the federal legislature seem to be oblivious to the gravity of the situation. They choose to live in isolation, detached from the harsh realities faced by their constituents. This isolation is not only physical but also mental, as they fail to acknowledge the dire circumstances and the urgent need for action.

This denial is a betrayal of the trust placed in them by the people who elected them to power, as it demonstrates a lack of empathy and a disregard for the well-being of their constituents.

Adding insult to injury, these leaders flaunt their extravagant lifestyles, epitomized by their 140 million naira vehicles. This display of opulence is a slap in the face to the impoverished and suffering masses. It highlights the stark contrast between the leaders’ comfort and the daily struggles faced by the people they are meant to serve.

The control of immense resources has transformed the northern governors into demi-gods, immune to criticism or advice. This unchecked power has created a culture of impunity, where the leaders are shielded from accountability and are free to act without consequence. This lack of transparency and oversight only perpetuates the cycle of corruption and mismanagement, further hindering progress and development in the region.

Willy-nilly, the North has become the target of accusations and abuse, with blame placed on the region for everything wrong with Nigeria today. History is shamefully and blatantly reviewed, rewritten, and falsified to portray the North, the Hausa/Fulani, and Muslims in a negative light.

Despite the accusations and abuse, the North has remained a bastion of respect, integrity, dignity, tradition, and decency. The region embodies positive traits such as morality, civilization, etiquette, good behavior, politeness, and accommodation.

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The North has refused to engage in altercations with its self-appointed enemies and antagonists, maintaining a dignified reserve. However, these enemies spare no effort to provoke a reaction from the North, justifying their portrayal of the region as volatile and violent.

Under various administrations, efforts have been made to bring down the North by destroying its institutions, expelling its people from positions of responsibility in government, and undermining its economic and social fabrics.
The North has been the target of secessionist agitations and calls for restructuring, with all complaints about the system directed towards the region.

Rampant poverty, armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, and drug abuse have been encouraged, further exacerbating social problems. Despite these challenges, the North has borne them with equanimity, stoical calm, and resignation.

It is now time to honor the sacrifices of the region’s forefathers who toiled and paid with their lives for a united and prosperous North by at least resisting the antics of those who seek to divide the region, including the foot soldiers from other parts of the South and cronies from the North who are fanning the embers of hatred among the northern population.

The North must no longer passively endure these attacks on its unity, integrity, and dignity. It is time to resist and react to every provocation and unwarranted interference in its affairs.

Those who seek to instigate violence and escalate tensions among the Northern population should be warned that their actions will not go unnoticed. They will be held accountable for their role in inciting violence and killing innocent people.

If mutual respect and peace cannot be achieved, then the suggestion of conducting a referendum should be considered. Each component of the country should have the opportunity to peacefully decide its fate. If living in smaller independent units would bring happiness and peace, then this option should be explored.

In conclusion, Northern Nigeria has been abandoned by its own leaders, who have failed to provide the necessary leadership and support.

The region has been marginalized, destroyed, and weakened. It is time for the North to rise and demand its rightful place in the country.

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