If we want to live together, we have to respect the values of others – Sani Zango Daura
There is no doubt; the north over the years has been on the receiving end of criticism, insults and intolerance, over her perceived dominance of political affairs in the country. Unfortunately, most of the criticisms were either out of envy or mere ignorance about the northern part of the country. I believe most of the people that see the north as an enemy of the Nigerian state, lack the comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the sacrifice, commitment, passion, and compassion Northerners have on the unity and peaceful co-existence of the Nigerian Republic. It has been a festival of name calling and confusion between various nationalities targeted at the northern part of Nigeria, since the outcome of the 2011 elections. To some the north has been demystified; while to other, it marked the end of the political and hegemonic control over the political affairs of Nigeria. While I will not like to join issues with all these arm chair analysts; my concern projects the spirit of benevolence and accommodative compassion of the northern people towards others nationalities; which has contributed significantly to the peaceful co-existence and national integration over the years.
For the purpose of unity and fraternity, northern politicians and followers bear all the hardship and insults to keep the country together. Although, some analysts argued that, the north is afraid of the breakup of the country, because of the consequence of such breakup to the survival of the northern region that has nothing to contribute to national development, in fact rather the region consumes more. While, the argument might be mischievous, I do not see the north suffering due to lack of resources; but, want I see is the passion, energy, and benevolence of northern people to make the necessary sacrifice and tolerate abuses and disrespect for the sake of the fragile stability of Nigeria. This is the real reason why northern politicians and followers desire peace and unity in Nigeria. After all, the northern region is the one feeding the population of this country. So, I wonder how anybody will make such obnoxious claims.
It may interest us to know that it is the maturity and pragmatism of Northern politicians led by Late Ahmadu Bello (The Sardauna of Sokoto) in the First Republic through his sacrifice and commitment that enabled the country to have a smooth transition to independence, amidst abuses and intolerance from the like of Chief Awolowo and his co-followers of ethnic chauvinisms. While the late Sardauna worked very hard to build unity, understanding, tolerance and development within the monolithic north and extended such virtues through a handshake across the Niger; others were determined to destroy the Unity of the region, for their selfish political gains. Secondly, the northern military personnels were agile, determined and courageous to keep the country as one during the civil war; while others adopted the “sit-don” look attitude.
Ironically, in all the years, the north had ruled the Country; it is evident that such leadership has not impacted on the socio-economic development of the region. Today, the northern part of country has a legacy of one of the highest rate of destitute, backwardness, poverty, crisis and conflict to show for long years in power, than the regions that demonized and criticized her all these years. Isn’t it ironic, that, the region that controlled the political destiny of this Country is also backward in all phases of human and material development? Compare that with Eight (8) years of Chief Obasanjo’s government, that, not only empowered the Yoruba race and made Eight (8) billionaires out of them; but, also, induced a reform package that lead to the final destruction of the economic base of the northern part of the country. Unfortunately, we are also witnessing the same traits being exhibited by the current government under President Goodluck Jonathan.
I believe whatever we may say about the imperfection of the political machine of the northern region; one thing stands clear, that the people of northern Nigeria exhibit the culture of compassion, tolerance, assistance and the spirit of lets live together. It is on record that most of the people who made it on the corridor of business, politics and economics, were directly or indirectly the beneficiaries of the benevolence of the northern people. It is only the northerners, that have the culture of accommodating their enemies (if we are truly one) through appointment and assistance. Make a check list of all the special assistants to mostly political appointees and elected members, from the northern region, you will realize that, most of them are from the southern region; while their brothers and sisters are left scrabbling for survival. I think His Excellency Alh Isa Yuguda, tops the chart of such benevolence, but its stupidity. The same in terms of appointment and consideration; the northerners tend to be more open minded and tolerant than our brothers and sisters from the southern parts of the country.
I think the benevolence of the Northern part was graphically shown during the PDP presidential primary, where the huge number of votes of the northern people goes to President Goodluck Jonathan against the PDP Northern consensus candidate Alh Atiku Abubakar. While in some northern state, the president and Alh Atiku shared the votes; but the south gave their son 100% vote. While the North was more nationalistic in giving President Goodluck Jonathan the 25% he needed to claim the so called Pan-Nigerian mandate; General Muhammadu Buhari was not even given 10% votes in southern part of the country. From reports during the April elections, the Hausa or northern community in the South-South and South-East were not even allowed to vote; thereby, giving the President 100% vote; which to me is not only laughable but shows the level of intolerance by our southern brothers and sisters. With this graphical display of compassion, it only shows that, the north is more benevolent and tolerant to national peace and security.
I know some of us; will argue that, the Northern part has always been the centre of political crisis, intolerance and is looking like a permanent ground for the killing industry in the last decade. To this, I will agree squarely, but, I will like to say, the crisis and conflicts are just one aspect of the huge conspiracy against the north, by forces both within and outside the region. The incidence of Boko Haram and other new forces of destabilization are the handiwork of nefarious groups of people who want to project the north in a bad light. It is evident from all and most of us from the conspiracy school, that, the Plateau and other crisis and conflicts in northern part of the country, were sponsored by the state especially, during the regime, of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to divide and demystify the northern political hegemony along religious lines. Mischievously whenever Chief Obasanjo wanted to make appointment into sensitive positions, especially in the security circle he goes after Northern minority and Christian, which to me was not a problem, but, unfortunately, the northern leaders, fell into the trap of the evil genius, through their outcry and agitations that, Obasanjo’s government was marginalizing the north; because to some of them, unfortunately, the minority are not true northerners. That was the igniting fire, to divide a once peaceful and politically strongly base. Not only did the policy achieve its objectives; but, it shows how insane people can go to use the institutions of the state to achieve a political score. I believe the Jos crisis is not beyond the Nigerian government to proffer solution to, but, I know the Federal government will never solve the crisis because of political consideration. Both the Muslims and Christians unfortunately fail to realize they are being used by the same elite circle to fight a buff war for political benefits.
I also believe part of the problems of conflicts and crisis in the northern region was disregard and lack of respect of some of our brothers and sisters who are doing business and working in the region have for the people of the region. This to me, has also been the bane of conflicts and crisis in the region; especially on religions ground. I often wonder why people will want to impose their way of thinking and lifestyle on others without recourse to respect and appreciation of other people’s culture and religion considerations. It is only perplexing and ironic as well, to read and observe how someone in far away, Lagos or Ibadan, will be analyzing the culture and tradition of others when he/she has never been to that part of the country. I think there are newspaper and public affairs commentators who enjoy demonizing and criticizing anything north. This lies and propaganda have been on for years, that, our younger generations have also imbibed this culture with impunity. Unfortunately, these arm chair critics fail to inform their unsuspecting readers and listeners, how they are also benefiting from the largesse of northern region as, consultants, contractors and publicist or as biographers to northern political and business class. To me this is hypocrisy and impunity of the highest order.
I think we northerners have made enough sacrifice for the unity and development of this country; I think what remains for us is for our brothers and sisters to show some sign of respect, understanding and see the problem and challenges of the northern region not only as that of the north alone, but, as a national problem. I believe there is no way, the current government will achieve its transformational agenda, if the crisis of agriculture, destitutions, Almajiris, ethno-religious divide and lack of industrial complex are not tackled especially for a region that have more than half of the country’s population. The current government must be careful in the way government agencies and persons in government are going about demonizing and calling the northern region names. The biggest mistake President Goodluck Jonathan government’s will do is to see the north as an enemy to be dealt with; because if the northern region fall back to opposition and withdraw caution and its benevolence then, the future of the Nigerian state will be at stake probably marking the beginning and the end of national unity due to resources confrontations and hegemonic survival.
Finally, I believe our brothers and sisters from the Southern part of the country must be sincere with the way they judge and analyze most of us. To me an average northerner is a good person, full of morals, pity, tolerance, compromise, compassion, responsible and law abiding citizen. The crisis of confidence in the northern region is the by-product of long years of pauperization and frustration. That is why; the issues of Islamic Banking must be treated with utmost caution and respect from our brothers and sisters from the southern part of the country. Islamic Banking is a financial arrangement that will incorporate huge percentage of Nigerians that are outside the banking system dues to issues of interests which go against their religious beliefs. I believe we are not asking for more, in a country that promises to respect the rights and privileges of all. The northerners and Muslims are Nigerians, thus, their culture, religion and future must be guaranteed within the larger Nigerian state. Please for the sake of our children and elderly people, let us understand our difference, not from the point of view of politicians, but, through befriending ourselves and build a great nation that is in the process of transformation.
Bukhari Muhammed Bello Jega