I refer to the opinion article with the title ‘the giant north weeps’ by Dan Agbese in the Guardian of June 19, 2020. The piece was insightful. All of his texts on this medium are apt including the works of other grandmasters. Leaders of the north allowed many people with no history to destroy the north and started complaining only when state of affairs got out of hand. They worried more about the presidency; religious interests at some point than the security of the region. The structure in the days of the Sardauna was one of proper check and balance, the system in the north worked. Not anymore. Take entrance examinations from primary school to secondary school for instance. Candidates sat for and wrote a unified secondary school entrance examination.
Test scores from 65 percent gave candidates the chance to attend grammar schools. Candidates with 64 – 35 percent test scores went to Teacher Training Colleges and others with less than 35 percent went to Government Craft Schools. Currently, politicians do not promote the cause for the mental efficiency of the northern region only for those of their charges. They have destroyed the legacies of Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto even when many politicians in the north are retired Generals, Professors, Doctors an
A grade two teacher beat them all. It is shaming and annoying. The Sardauna was disciplined in deed and words. The Sardauna cared about human beings and development in the real sense. The Ahmadu Bello University was situated in Kaduna State and not in Sokoto State. The Prime Minister of the northern region was not his brother but was from Bauchi State. He was not prejudiced like these ones at the moment and the north mattered more to him than kinsmen. Small wonder he discovered talents such as Jibrin Aminu, groomed the likes of Ahmadu Ali and courted Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan with scholarship to study after securing the highest ever national scores for the north in an entrance examination. It bears repeating that Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan is a Christian and not a Muslim. His personal secretary was a Christian, Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi. Does this big-heartedness happen in my time now?
The Sardauna addressed cross cultural conflict and tamed them. Who are the people responsible for the killings in the middle-belt and the entire northern region? What these northern politicians do is to go for solidarity visits after which they preach hatred for the other side in the dark. The Johnny’s- come- lately in the north – nowadays, happen along and become politicians. In the Sardauna’s time, these failed politicians couldn’t have been politicians, certainly not. These politicians are responsible for the insecurity in the north, the northern elders know them but they never finger-point, have never finger-pointed. If they had gone on a crying jag earlier, this once peaceful north wouldn’t have been infested with – Darth Vaders and northern people wouldn’t be consorting with the Wicked Witch of the West. Unfortunately, the generalissimo we had hoped could take these Knights of the road out of the scene is beside himself with confusion on what to do.
The Sardauna wanted the whole north to be culturally competent and told his lieutenant, “we must not lose Kwara to the South West.” He competed healthily with the West which was then a leading light for development. Not any longer, with excitement some northern people want to reclaim other northern lands but yet do not have developmental models to compete with the South. Fraudsters in political garbs have divided Kaduna, Jos and many other places, Bishopric matter more than development. Competition in the north in the present day is on religious basis. The discovery of natural talents for the good of the region together with the guidance of people for development is a scheme reserved for the next world. The Sardauna knew that the north was poor, that Nigeria was a poor and backward country and strove hard, contributed to make it rich.
He was never accused of nicking public assets. Look at the well-designed Hamdala Hotel that he built; it is now a shadow of its former self. These northern politicians who should maintain the hotel, do not because they have used public funds to build their own hotels using cronies as fronts to outcompete Hamdala Hotel out of the hospitality industry, it is a crying shame. Here was a man who did not dwell too much on the report of his aides to judge people. He believed in the knowledge and mind competencies of people and worked with all for the common good. He knew the importance of clarity in eliminating options and aligning options with values. He knew that a change in perspective transforms life and that attitude adjustment is central to growth and development. The future of the northern region in my time is guided by chance and religious zealots have become statesmen.
They never influence the lives of people of the region positively. They have fed people with lies to believe that a handful of people have been ordained and blessed by The Almighty Creator to take care of their needs and communities of people should defer to these people.
Dignity must come from servitude.
What they hunger after is to make free money, in politics not in private enterprise. They have appropriated government jobs to their children, government jobs have been filled by the children of politicians. Seek a government job and you are asked, “Who is your father, or who do you know.” Outsiders do not have places to rest their heads and their children have been told that they cannot provide great value, they inconvenience the polity. Their lives do not matter and nothing can be done to help them live more fulfilled lives. How can the north do well without the participation of all northerners in regional and national life? Sir Ahmadu Bello was a real leader indeed. Can we say so about these northern politicians at the moment? Why won’t the giant north weep?
Abah, a teacher, speaker, campaigner and consultant, wrote from Abuja.