By Tahir Sherrif
There has been a long lasting impression on the minds of Nigerians about the Northern region. When discussions are held about Nigerian states like Sokoto, Kano, or Jigawa, thoughts of religious violence, bloodshed, and higher levels of illiteracy come to mind. But most importantly mass poverty is often predominant. This impression has been carried on for a long time, whereas such an impression may be wrong.
Perhaps the Northern region of Nigeria is poor, true, but definitely not in the way that Northern politicians and sympathizers consistently describe it. What the region clearly lacks is an adequate supply of visionary leaders. For one can see poverty is in all the corners of Nigeria.
Northern politicians have built a grand illusion that covers the sum of their failures as managers of their people. They lament at the unemployment levels, sigh at the lack of industrial growth and shy away from issues relating to sectarian violence. Beneath all the disturbances is a lack of economic stability generated by a lack of proper economic planning. The North is only poor in terms of good leaders.
The North is not poor politically; the number of seating House of Rep members and Governors is testament to that. It is economically handicapped, a situation that can only have been caused by the administrators of the Northern states. Their LGA chairmen, their State Ministers, their Representatives, and most importantly, their Governors. If anything, it is clear that true political stability comes from economic stability.
The images of starving children, under-age marriages, violent youths and incessant ethnic and religious tensions camouflage the true problems. This deception is what most northern Governors in the northern states have maintained. As well as sponsoring campaigns to redirect the problems as politically induced by opposing parties or by other regions.
The teeming mass of northerners seeking their daily meals as mai-ruwa’s, mai-shayi’s, truck pushers, motor-cycle riders, shoe-makers, and can be seen at every market place all over the country point to one thing, if educated, this large number of people will collapse the current northern elite class.
However northern leaders choose to manage the northern people, it is steadily becoming clear that resource control and geographical economic stability will be the bar upon which a country as richly diverse as Nigeria can rest, dependent economic arrangements such as the Northern region feeding off from oil monies generated from the Southern region is sure to have a timeline.
The wrong brandishing of poverty as the problem plaguing the northern region is clearly no solution to the problem. What is most interesting is the fact that Northern leaders have neglected this obvious regional problem in pursuit of political position in coming elections. Of course people cannot remain fooled. To the statements of poverty chanted by politician in the North, most Nigerians, and not only those from the Southern region simply return the un-answered question by replying ‘In over 30years of political advantage, where did all the money go?’
Opinion article written by Tahir Sherrif