Curbing Insecurity in Northern Nigeria: the Role of Government and Citizens! -Ishola Adebayo

October 30, 2018

Few years ago, Nigerians were anxiously concerned on how the federal government can tackle the corrosive and caustic corruption, education, agriculture and power failure, but the recurring spate of hapless killings in the Northern parts of Nigeria diverted the minds of Nigerians to make the federal government to concentrate on tackling security threats in the country. Government is meant to protect her citizens and property but in Nigeria the reverse is now the case. Over 10,000 people had been innocently killed while property worth millions of naira destroyed for no just cause and the federal government has abysmally failed to bring the unsympathetic committers to book.

It is very demoralizing after experiencing success stories of harmonious coexistence between the citizenry of Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and other recent crisis-ridden states to have woken up back to the black-dark days of bloodbath of the past. After critical and careful perusal of the sad and painful happenings of the recent horrific carnage especially on the Plateau, which was observed with dismay that the most recent attacks on the Plateau were well orchestrated with political and religious mindset. Despite the fact that in the past three years, there has been success stories of peaceful coexistence between the inhabitants of Plateau state. It is disheartening that once again, human life does not matter to some disgruntled elements within the nation. Aren’t we making ourselves a laughing stock before the comity of nations? Why must we allow ourselves to be used by miscreants and senseless politicians at all cost? As a matter of fact, the dastardly acts went on for some days unabated and why?

The Nigerian state appears clueless. Ironically, the North was once a place of peace, brotherliness and low crime rates, a common awareness among its 200 plus ethnic nationalities. Ahmadu Bello, the founding father of the defunct Northern Region, despite the domineering influence of his Fulani-Hausa nationality, sought, through the “One North, One Destiny” slogan, to foster a common identity and development. Things, however, went awry when succeeding leaders of the region began from the 1970s to play a game of exclusion, using ethnicity and religion.

The result is the growing sectarian savagery. The famed “melting pots” of northern Nigeria, among them Jos, Kaduna, Zaria. Kafanchan and Yola/Jimeta, began to explode in horrendous massacres. Political intolerance, religion, very poor governance and bad leadership have left the North with the world’s most dismal indices. In its ranking of the country’s 10 poorest states, using poverty levels and internally generated revenue based on data by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2017, nine Northern states including Sokoto, Katsina, Adamawa, Gombe and Jigawa led with only one state from the South, Ebonyi, coming in seventh place. While poverty rates in the 17 Southern states average less than 50 per cent, national average reaches over 70 per cent when added to the figures from the North. A recent finding that Nigeria has the world’s largest number of persons living in “extreme poverty” also locates most of these 81 million wretchedly poor in the North.

The North has become so violent because poor leadership is manipulating religion and ethnic chauvinism to advance and sustain elite interests. In a country where poor governance and inept, corrupt leadership is near universal, the consequences in the North have, however, been more devastating. Shettima, Governor of Borno and chair of the Northern Governors Forum, said the North had become a laughing stock, a centre of insecurity, terrorism and poverty and had become a drag to the rest of the country. Concurring, Balarabe Musa, former governor of old Kaduna State, told a newspaper that if the educational disparity between North and South continued, “… there’s no way we can have national unity, there’s no way we can have even development, there’s no way we can avoid the North being the problem of Nigeria…”

The only way to curb the slaughter in the North is for the region’s elite to embrace a more liberal political culture that drives “the world’s most prosperous and successful societies,” according to Obama. Ordinarily, religion, if handled rationally and responsibly, should not be an impediment to progress and development, as can be seen in some few Muslim countries like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Malaysia, that have been able to walk the delicate tight-rope between good governance and religion.

Illiteracy and fundamentalism will only drive away potential investors and leave the North and, by extension, the rest of Nigeria perpetually impoverished. It is the responsibility of today’s Northern leaders to lead their people to prosperity and end the cycle of deprivation and violence.

"Unity can only come when there is better co-ordination and mutual understanding in the society; when there is no friction of thoughts and clash of ideologies. We should therefore follow the ideals established by the scholars and engage ourselves in virtuous deeds". ~Atharva Veda