NORTHERN NIGERIA: NOSTALGIA & THE FUTURE Copyright © Usman Balarabe Aliyu 2012 ISBN 978-978


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NORTHERN NIGERIA: Nostalgia & the Future
By Usman Balarabe Aliyu

Discourse Series – 4 Usana Complex Minna: 2012


The author lived thus; Usman Aliyu was born of Aliyu Mu'azu, Sarkin Yakin Minna, and a fairly quiet lady, Amina Usa, on Wednesday June 17, 1953 in Minna, Niger State. His Academic quest ran thus: Elementary Education, Minna and Sokoto: 1960 - 66 Secondary Education, Birnin Kebbi: 1967-71 Higher School Certificate (HSC): 1972 -73, Sokoto Bachelor’s Degree (BA), (ABU) Kano: 1974 -77 Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in 1982, (STP) London. His other engagements were: Co-operatives, Abuja until June, 1972. National Youth Service (NYSC) 1977-78, Lagos. Employment with (NTA) from 1978-84, Minna. Film Production, Usana Complex Minna 1984-96. Bricks Manufacture, 1997-2006, Minna and Funtua. His authorial endeavour: Gone missing, ISBN 978-978-8200-14-7: Adventure 1 Eye for Order, ISBN 978-978-084-699-2 Adventure 2 A Widow’s Dew, ISBN 978-978-085-658-8 Adventure 3 Beyond Guilt, ISBN 978-978-085-824-7 Adventure 4 Retailing Power, ISBN 978-978-087-272-4 Drama The Children of the Republic, ISBN 978-978-088-779-7 Loners’ Flash, ISBN 978-978-088-990-6 Poetry Road to Sharia, Discourse America Vs Islam, Discourse Revelation & Science, Discourse 7Letters to Boko Haram, Discourse Northern Nigeria: Nostalgia & the Future, Discourse Usman Aliyu was a family man with children. iii

At death, his epitaph was; Allow me cry, God, for those who can’t cry Make me be heard for those who can’t be Let me die free, Let me not live in chains. I thank you, God, for allowing me be All that I had wanted to be

Dedicated thus; To all the northern youth Desiring to emulate that northern man A man from a village called Raba A man with a larger heart Who did much for a wider land? A man who gave his life Caring for his weaker mates


I NORTHERN NIGERIA: NOSTALGIA & THE FUTURE WHAT IT WAS LIKE IN THE NORTH They called out a boy of seven and asked him to hurry up to the hospital to report a case. Soon, the boy was back, sitting next to the driver of a white ambulance, as he directed the staff to the house. The nurses went in and lifted up the woman in labour. They drove back to the maternity ward and the vigilant nurses took over. Soon, there was a cry. A baby was born. That was a child, male or female, common in any part of the North, sixty years ago. In any place in the north, the medical care was the same, available; the staffs were the same, caring; the response was the same, fast and efficient. Within the house, the child was looked after by every one. The neighbours too were caring. Weekly, then monthly, the mother took him to the nearby health centre for checkups. At seven he was back at the hospital for circumcision, which was done while he was asleep, under anaesthesia. When he woke up, he just walked back home, safely, afraid of nothing, being congratulated by well-wishers. He was enrolled into primary school; books, uniforms and medical care were provided by the school, so was lunch! The teachers were always there, prompt and dutiful. At fourteen, the kid took his common entrance examinations, same days with all the other kids in the region, whether in towns or in the villages. The results came out. Interviews were conducted for sorting out the kids; the handy went to craft schools, the large ones were for teachers’ training schools, while the small inquisitive ones were fished out for secondary schools. This way, he and his mates were dispersed all over the north; some went as far as Maiduguri, others to Ilorin, Kano, Jos, Makurdi, Yola, Bauchi and Katsina. They were sent in pairs to keep each other company. He met others from different parts of the north with whom he could share the chat on the same public films they all had seen in their towns or villages, no 9

matter remote! The colleges provided accommodation, feeding, medical facilities and clothing. Milk, sugar and toiletry were given, so also was pocket money, weekly! At holiday break, transport money was also given, to and from hometown. It was quite easy, if you wanted, you could have a vocational job during the holidays; but, the teenagers preferred to roam about, spending lavishly the money they got from school. When final exams came, they were conducted timely as scheduled. The results were generally good and also prompt. If you had passed, the next school was almost a must. Your name would have been there waiting for you to come. The two years after secondary were quite hard for the brain, so, the students were treated with much care and lots of respect. That was the higher school certificate group. The exams were common to all students in the queen’s commonwealth. They were meant to get you to the next academia. The university was quite a luxury. Free everything was handy for this rare group: food, housing, books, allowances, laundry and free access to almost everything. At completion, a job was waiting just for you. If you took it, it came with a car, a house, furniture and fat pay. Your promotion was accelerated and soon, you became a big man. Having gone abroad to study, you became a wise man, it was presumed. All this while, you were just about twenty five, with no wife let alone children. That was the Northern Nigeria I knew fifty years ago!!! WHAT IT IS NOW IN THE NORTH A man in his thirties was ruffled as his wife announced she was in labour. He bundled her and dashed out to the hospital. He was dismayed to find there were no nurses. He waited with others complaining about the bad service. Much later, the nurses walked in sluggishly into the maternity ward. Immediately, a long list was given to him of what to buy. He felt he was setting up a medical store! His wife was laid on the bare floor, stained with much 10

afterbirth blood. Then, there was a cry. A baby was born. That was a typical baby now. In any place in the north, the medical care is the same, unavailable; the staffs were the same, uncaring; the response was the same, slow or never! Within the house, the child is virtually left alone, looked after by nobody. The neighbours too don’t bother. There are no health centres to take the child to, for any postnatal checkups. Before he reaches four he is enrolled into a costly private school or devastating public school; unnecessary books are prescribed by any teacher in the school! The teachers are always late or not around. Much later, the kid will take his examinations, at variant days with all the kids in the state. The results may or may not come out. No interviews were conducted for sorting out of the kids. This way, he and his mates will be left to fend for themselves, especially if their parents are poor, that is generally common! Those lucky to get to any secondary school will have no accommodation, no feeding, no books, no medical facilities or clothing. At holiday breaks, the kid is left to find his way home, praying no armed robbers or spiritual killers lie on the way. When final exams come, they are half hazard, multiple, costly and unscheduled. The results are generally bad and also late in coming. If you are lucky to pass, or have managed to pay for it, the next school is almost uncertain. Your name will probably not be seen. For the next few years, you will be taking one exam or the other to gain admission into any of the mushroomed universities. The university is a dungeon. Exorbitant everything is demanded from you: yet no food, no adequate housing, no books, only purchasable handouts! At completion, no job is available for you. If you are lucky to get one, it’s most likely working for someone who has robbed the state. Your promotion is uncertain and soon, you become his slave. You are likely to be in this condition till you reach late age, with not enough money for a car or a house, let alone to talk of a wife and children. This is the ‘Northern Nigeria’ we have today!!! 11

SENSE OF LOSS It's hard not to weep, coming from the North, most especially being aged, seeing the vast youthful talents going to waste. 35 years ago, I used to visualize how developed the North would be, with so much money coming to it and with many college graduates being produced. Then, something went wrong. I saw my age-group racing in madness to fill bank accounts. I saw the number of the poor increasing. I saw the youth being reduced to thuggery and their parents forced to beggary. I saw also the leadership being taken over by the swallow and worthless. Then, I saw the learned being reduced to sheepishness. With time, everything that could go wrong has gone totally wrong in the north. I wept. I realised the North would suffer much disgrace. But, there is hope, I think, if only the Northern youth can rise to meet the challenge ahead, to salvage the situation. Its youth must make urgent effort to stop this decay, not by violence or resignation. No youth should expect the current elders, we who had ruined it, to fix it for them. If we could do it, we would not have spoilt it in the first place. Our main mistake was to think that individually we could be happy by amassing money, while all around us was falling desolate in poverty. THE WAY AHEAD What the youth needs to do is: 1- to resolve to take your destiny into your own hands. 2- to acquire talent that is marketable and profitable 3- to set out, despite the odds, to compete in the modern economy. We, in the North, have the talents, but we lack the support of the rich and the public is poor, so everyone remains poor. For a better North, and by extension, a better Nigeria, the Muslim North and the Christian North must come to terms with their physical realities. The North is wide enough for both of them, yet it cannot contain the intolerant. Lately, the wicked or ignorant had 12

used the religious card to cause hatred. A good Muslim or a good Christian is one that is honest, kind, fair and forgiving. It's God's trial on us to place us side by side; the best of us will not be by shouting and wickedness, but by the fear of God shown in good conduct. I would advise those who want to better their lives to stop waiting for government or anyone to do it for them. There is so much to do, don't waste your life waiting. You can create jobs for yourselves; join hands with others to forge ahead. There are millions of ways to make money, none is easy, and none is a grant, none shameful unless stealing!!! How many of you are carpenters? How many of you are welders? How many of you are plumbers, how many of you are caterers, how many of you are mechanics, how many of you are anything you consider un-North? Get up get going, you can make it, you need to make it. Look around you, cry if you can but do something. If your dad has the money, act as a lender to your mates!!! When we were young, the North had no oil money. The much praised Sardauna used the hard earned pennies of the farmers, the truck-pushers and the common man to give us education. Sardauna was hoping that when we grew up we would take care of the rest of our people. But, we lost out. Having been sent abroad to study, we came back and somehow became more selfish. When the civil war came, those of us who dropped out from school joined the army. There was much money and much irresponsibility. The result was nasty. Some of the effects are what you see now. I hope in this you will draw lessons to get back your life, most of us are dying; we will soon leave you with the bad we have caused. But, you can correct some of it to leave for your children a better place. If you missed this golden opportunity, like we did, you too would regret it, as some of us do now. Therefore, the youths must learn to choose the right people for company. When I was a child, the bad in the neighbourhood were isolated, not celebrated. Now, the worse is given the highest honour and the youth are called upon to proclaim it! This has helped in spreading evil and encouraging its replication. 13

No doubt, the North is full of vitality. Its youths are not lazy. Its common population is vibrant. What is missing is the WILL. When I graduated, nearly 40years ago, government job was just there for the taking. You didn't even have to apply to get it. With it came a car, a house and much more. I felt I could earn much more setting out my own outfit. I remembered what a friend of mine from Lagos said to me, 'what are you doing in the North, move out to Lagos or London, you will make it better.' I replied to him that there was much to it than money. If I moved out, my people would lose the expertise, even if they could get the money. The Northern youth can compete any where, anytime, but they need to remove hatred and rancour within their hearts. Be not sad for what your brother has, but for the good you are failing to bring about around you! This leads to the controversy that has been raging in Nigeria since independence; who leads the country: Hausa from the north, Ibo from the east or Yoruba from the west? Our concern in this discourse is the relevance of this matter to the North. THE NORTH AND THE PRESIDENCY The Northern people are led to believe that the region's progress depends on the presidency coming their way. They have also been made to believe that their terrible situation is sequel to others ruling over them. Nothing is far from the truth than this nonsense! This weird argument was concocted by those who wanted to cause trouble; when they rigged election they said God gave them power; yet, when others out rigged them, they stirred hatred against nonbelievers! 1-By the Nigerian Constitution and practice, the president of the country has very little to do with the way you are; your GOVERNOR is the direct influence on your life. Your governor is responsibly for translating the federal government’s broad policies to affect you. If the north is backward, it is the doing or the non-doing or the undoing of the northern governors. 2-In a country like Nigeria, a good governor can change the 14

destiny of his people irrespective of who the president is or what his design, hidden or open, is. The governors always collect the states' federal revenue, unfailingly. They waste it in hopeless, useless projects, leaving their states in abject poverty. 3- It is important for the northern people to call their governors to question, instead of being misled into a useless argument on where the president should come from. It is like a household in any city. The father is directly responsible for the wellbeing of his family irrespective of who the ‘mai-anguwa’ is. The GOVERNORS, not the PRESIDENT, affect 99% of what happens to you! Therefore do not allow yourselves to be deceived. If you want change, then change your unimaginative governors! A typical manifestation of the northern governors’ lack of seriousness is evident from their utterances and unruly conduct. When recently they met, the governors had enough time to resolve that they would field in a single candidate for the presidency, yet they failed to realize that they belonged to different parties! They wanted to give the impression that they were doing us a favour! Well, we know better, we are not buying that. We also know that our educational system is neglected not by the federal government but by them, the governors. Have a look at the primary schools around you. Then venture out to the secondary schools. What do you see? Pitiful sites, certainly not for the governors' children! But, see them hurrying to build universities, you wonder for whom? Most likely for those same people they want you and I to hate! Go to any government hospital; though the people are poor, their children are unemployed, their oil share is coming always, they are charged beyond what they could afford, and they are left to die just for being northerners. Yet, someone is telling you that you need to hate someone to get him in to milk you dry again! Is this the president's fault? The fact is that the governors, not the president, are responsible for the bad situation we are in. I don't know if you have enough pump water in your state, if yes, 15

then thank God for giving you a considerate governor who steals in other areas but at the least gives you water! Most likely you have no water, yet you are constantly told how much was spent for that water you never had! Still, they tell you it's the president's fault for being non-northerner! How about your roads, this is one area in which they are busy. It is lucrative to invite outsiders to build roads for you while you waste unemployed, without even money to get yourself some good shoes. Your industries, if you have any, most likely they do not function or they have been sold or they are being dismantled. Is that the federal government’s doing? A good governor can produce the environment conducive for great economic development in his state, even if Nigeria is crying for lack of funds! You know how many jobs opportunities are there for just 1Million Naira. Try to calculate how many a northern roam about from morning till night trying to sell Kola nuts, Mangoro, lemu, ashana, allura and the like. A whole family man wasting a lifetime on a business, or whatever, that is not worth five thousand naira. If you want change, then Change your unimaginative governors! This same argument fuelled the heated atmosphere at the last elections. Many believed that the presidency must come to the North and that Gen. Buhari was the only alternative. This is a myth you must dispel. I have nothing personally against Gen Buhari, but the truth must be told, the bitter truth. 1-Buhari had proved himself to be anti-corrupt, but there is more to it than just that. The North cries against itself when it looks for someone to come to stop those who are corrupt; yet, over 90% of the north either participate in it, or allow it or enjoy some of its fruits. Go to the markets; see how traders compete in adulteration! Go to the schools and see what students do for free marks. Go into the houses and see how wives and their husbands compete sharply to outwit the other in selfishness. For Buhari to be effective, even if elected, he would need nothing less than 25 years. But, the General 16

has not got much patience, yet patience is an essential part of success! 2- General Buhari had not prepared himself for success even as he ran for the presidency. He needed governors to implement his policies; but, Buhari's party did not bother to select clean or hard working fellows as governors. They forgot that Nigeria is not a military regime where the president sits in Abuja just giving orders. Nor did they bother to sort out their senators, members of state and federal Assemblies; remember what happened in Kano, Katsina and many other places? For Buhari to be effective, despite his love for the country, he needs many more honest people around him than what he has hastily gathered. 3- Buhari is a Nationalist. The North is looking not for a Nationalist but a Regionalist. The north had had enough of people who had ruled in its name but without its sole interests in mind: Murtala, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalam and Yar'aduwa. Gowon was an exception. Not only he was Christian, but he came on a ticket to redress the wrong done to the north, and he was more sensitive not to hurt the north. Those who came after him were busy trying to fix national problems. At the end, they left the north in a worse state than they met it! Buhari will not accept to be a regional leader the north is looking for. Here lies the problem-the northern youth must decide what they want, a fair leader for all Nigerians or a leader that knows their unique disadvantages and also knows how to address them while not being unfair to the rest of the country? You cannot move smoothly with any of your tires being flat!!! This feeling of helplessness, of no one around to fix things, has created a fear of the unknown, of being squarely dominated! Lately, everyone seems to have 'THE NORTH' on their lips. Ask them what that means, most of them don't really know. From where do they get this idea? Of course, from the dying generation, those in their fifties and above, who knew the north, enjoyed the north and wasted it! Technically, the north consisted of 13 provinces of: 17

1. Sokoto 2. Katsina 3. Zaria 4. Kano 5. Plateau 6. Borno 7. Sardauna 8. Benue 9. Kabba 10. Ilorin 11. Bauchi 12. Adamawa 13. Niger These provinces almost correspond to the current state structure. That was the colonial administrative convenience, drawing from the pre-colonial historical reality. The late premier, Sardauna of Sokoto, because of his fairness to all his citizens, created certain common attachment among the people. No tribal or religious discriminations. There was common educational policy for all. Resources were distributed fairly. When he was killed, everything was killed with him! The north was broken up into fragmented states, each piece with a governor packed with lots of money and executive powers. With this, regionalism is gone, for better or worse. So, when you say ‘the north’, what do you really mean? The Muslim North, the Christian north, the rich-men north, the poor-men north, the Hausa north, the non-Hausa north or what? It is a catchphrase with vague and confusing meaning, introduced lately by politicians at the losing end. On the other end, when the Youth say north, what are they really looking for, considering the recent happenings in their neighbourhood, a north without Jos or without Borno? Are they yearning for an imaginary utopia, a north of the past with one goal, and what will the goal be? Equally, when you hear these terms: northern governors, northern leaders, northern forums, what comes to your mind? What 18

is now common with all these catchwords? All those under fifty would not have known what ‘the north’ was. Therefore, they are yearning for a paradise period being described by their elders. These same elders, recipients of the northern favours, when they were young, virtually shunned the values of the north. They yearned for what the south had. They had southern friends. They avoided their northern roots, which then were considered backward, non-progressive. Now, they make a u-turn and become advocates of the north while retaining, in action and in thought, that same yearning for the south! Try to check the profiles of these elders or leaders, what do you see? Who are their wives? Who are their friends? Who are their cooks? Who are their bedroom cleaners? Who are their drivers? Who are their fronts? Who are their bankers? Who are their lawyers? Who are the recipients of their investments? Who are their advisers? The southerners are everything to them! They trust them, they love them. So, when they call for the north, they know and we should know they are lying! The North of Sardauna was administered without discrimination, whatsoever. What of now? You are from Kebbi State, yet, in Kano you are considered a foreigner. You come to Niger state from Sokoto, you are called non-indigene. There is no common educational, health, economic or anything policy. What is common is wastage and non-functional institutions especially in most of those states referred to as 'far north'. The north the youth are looking for is now history. Unless you dismantle the restricting state structures, you will have no common thread but of fragmented religious sects and of bad guys leading you astray. These same people use religion to create division among people. How do you discuss with a governor who call for the extermination of those of other region or states, yet they are from the north? North now is a dream, a yearning for something better, but not a reality!


REDEFINING THE NORTH AND DEFINING ITS TARGET: Though the geographical definition of the north remains the same as at Sardauna's time, the social, economic and other factors of the region have drastically changed. Yet, a northerner must be a northerner. But now, the northerners have varying, and in some cases fatal, conflicting interests and goals. 1- Religion was no barrier to the 50 year old Ahmadu Bello. He treated the Christians and pagans of Jos, Benue, Niger, Gongola and Katsina so fairly that they, even now, would praise him. 2- All the varied tribes in the north were considered and they considered themselves as brothers, all toiling for the common goal, to move ‘Arewa’ forward. 3-Schools were organised in such a way that students were dispersed throughout the region for good interaction, to remove cultural aversion. That arrangement is now gone. You have patches of states and local governments with unnecessary restrictions against unity and common purpose. You have inter-religious and inter-tribal conflicts. So, what is the North? What do we consider the common factor? How is the north to be redefined? Now, we have the politicians talking of 'far north' and 'middle belt'. They say the 'far north' is Muslim and Hausa/Fulani, while 'middle belt' is Christian and mixed tribes. They propagate these terms in an attempt to divide the people and cause hatred. The obvious new definition for the north must be 'ECONOMIC'. The single common trait of the north now is 'POVERTY'. The common goal, therefore, must be the creation of AFFLUENCE. But, how do you do this without defining or making reference to your religion or tribe? In reality, this target is achievable without religious or tribal conflict. Striving for this goal is individualistic; each can do it within the confine of his or her religious or tribal context. What is needed is respect of the others' boundaries. With this goal in mind, my vision of a true Northerner will be as: 1-A true northern, Muslim or Christian or none of these, is one 20

who comes to term with the fact that he or she cannot live in isolation; that is not the design of God for man. To fulfil the grand design, one has to be honest and fair to all persons, at all times. 2-A true Northerner is one who does not envy the South for its oil, education or industries, but one who strives, despite all the difficulties, to make his place better than he met it, thus making his people and all those around him happier and secure. 3-A true northerner is one who does not sit lazily waiting for the droplets of others, receiving little goods but much insult. 4-A true northern is not one who steals people’s money or resources and damps them somewhere, depriving his people of their means of making progress. 5-A true northerner is one who strives hard to acquire knowledge and skills that are beneficial for him and all those around him. 6-A true Northerner is one who is not wasteful, yet he is kind and humane to those around him who have less or nothing. 7-Finally, a true Northerner is one who does not look forward to the break-up of Nigeria, rather he aims at expanding the good values of his or her region to all corners of the country and beyond for the benefit of mankind! REBUILDING THE NORTH-1 It has been previously mentioned that the north has to be redefined. That definition will also have to be in the concepts of ECONOMICS, because the most common factor in the region now is POVERTY, and the common target is AFFLUENCE. It is also argued that the target is achievable despite the varied religious, ethnic and conflicting political groupings and interests. Everyone will love to be free from want, the Muslims, the Christians, Hausa, Nupe, Tiv, etc. Therefore, this is an area to start with. Next, referring to my earlier assertion that it was the civil service that let us down, it is also the same organisation to lift us up. No economic activity could take place unless certain things are also put in place. Some of these have to do with labour laws, contract 21

agreements, security, banking, patronage, targeted training, industrial regulations etc. All of these are matters concerning the civil order which is conducted by the civil services. You probably will say, 'we will get nowhere, because the civil service is dead!' Well, dead or alive, we will have to do with the civil service; but, we can deal with it. For an effect change, we have to have a schedule, that's what and what to do first, and what next? The first thing is for the committed youth to draw a program: Say by the end of a particular year, 'we shall be able to have enlightened those in the service to realise their importance and their responsibilities. We must make them aware of the fact that the little money they collect as gratification does more harm to them, their children's future and if they are believers in God, to their hereafter. Do not assume people will not understand, they will, if they see the sincerity in your intention. You must be the first to stop, transforming yourself, transparently honest. You can't ask others to stop doing what you are busy doing! Sardauna did not have 100% honest followers, but because he was steadfast, not doing it, many were afraid to do it. Those who did it were duly held accountable. His death was a lifting of a bottle cock, the bad became apparent and they did what they had always wanted to do. It is common knowledge that changing personality is difficult but possible, with great will power. REBUILDING THE NORTH -2 If it's difficult for you to change, you could imagine how near impossible it is for you to change a whole community. Therefore, to succeed, one needs to be considerate, tactful and patient. As you bring yourself to public exposure, you will discover people of three groups: a- Those who believe in you and your cause b- Those who do not believe in you or your cause c- Those who don't much care about you or your cause Much of the assistance you get will come from those who believe 22

in your cause. But, you need to be wise to keep them along. You must know how to use them and their resources. The group that hates your idea will be of two types: 1- those who hate you and your ideas, and fight you 2- those who hate your ideas, but leave you alone The group that doesn’t care about you or your ideas can be dangerous or helpful depending on how your campaign goes. They may come to you later, or cause you trouble later; without even bothering to understand your goals. All the same, the group to watch most is those who hate your cause. They are mostly powerful in the society, with the means to do you harm. They are likely to control the state apparatus; they have much to lose by your campaign. They will use anything at their disposal to get you. You won’t have Facebook in Jail. Not everyone’s story is a replica of Prophet Yusuf, or Mandela or Obasonjo; from jail straight to the presidency; so, you need to watch out! With those who are likely to listen to you, you must not overtax them; impatience achieves nothing. Much as you desire change, other factors are working against you. Hence, you need much planning to do. Next, avoid placing much monetary demand on people; that's likely to ruin your effort from the start. Again, where the state is responsible, it is cheaper and faster to get the state do it, than your tiny ineffectual contributions! Lastly, avoid accusing people directly; you wouldn't want to spend your life wrangling with litigations; accusation does no one any good. Be positive, use examples and allegories, but avoid pointing fingers. The problem with Nigeria or the north is not the short supply of criticism or accusers; it is the absence of those willing to go out to do what is required to be done for a change. With this mature attitude, you can then start programming. REBUILDING THE NORTH -3 We have to constantly remind ourselves of our objective, that's to bring AFFLUENCE to the north. This we do because we might end up digressing. Of course, we must remove poverty. But, the two 23

conditions do not coexist; one drives the other out, just as darkness and light, knowledge and ignorance, life and death; they are two faces of the same coin but seen only one side at a time. Because of this, I will try to explain what actually poverty is, what brings it, and how to remove it. I believe it is possible to solve our problem if, and only if, selfishness and impatience are conquered. At one time or the other, we have been troubled by the stream of people calling on us with one problem or the other relating to medical, feeding or school expenses. The increasing destitution of our neighbours has been getting on our nerves; we therefore would like to find solutions. What is poverty: lack of money, lack of food, lack of housing or lack of whatever you desire? You might think if you gave people money or some things, you were helping to remove their poverty. Well, you're not removing their poverty, in any form. You may be alleviating a temporary pressure, but not poverty. Remember that famous saying, give man a fish; you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish; you feed him for a lifetime. Historically, the north had not been just affluent, but it was not deprived either. It was like a coin sitting on its edge; it was in transition. There were the resources to make it Japan, and it had the potentials of being great. The regional government, then, had a vision of what it would take to create wealth. Unforeseen events turned the tables! There was the coup, there was the 'A Raba', there was the states’ creation, then the civil war, and the worst of them, there was oil and the social upheaval that followed. All these factors, at the end, produced state governments quite unprepared for their responsibilities! Subsequently, the conditions for poverty started to appear within the community. Poverty is the inability to fulfil obligations; while wealth is the wherewithal to fulfil one's obligations and to make others meet theirs also. But, people are inherently not poor; they are designed to fulfil their obligations. It is a government's policy that is most likely 24

to make them poor. Because it is the government that generally restricts or expands people's ability to meet up their obligations. If you use resources wrongly, wastefully or inappropriately, like spending what is for a thousand people on a select few, say one hundred, you will deprive the other nine hundred of their resources, which is their means of meeting their obligations. As a result, you'll make them, the excluded, poor. It is like using the money meant to feed ten people for an expensive meal for one! Thus, you force nine to go without. It is the right of a householder to ensure for his or her family seven things: food, clothing, shelter, security, medication and education, and to safeguard against future loss of any attained status. The first three are attainable by the individual; therefore, they are their responsibility, while the next three are corporate, achievable only through collective effort. Food, clothing and shelter are the duty of the householder. But, security, medication and education are public concern because they transcend the realm of a particular family. For example, a criminal is born and reared in a particular family but his actions affect others most. So is health or education; an Infected person is a public risk; an educated person is a public asset. It is an obligation of the government to provide conducive atmosphere for people, for them to accomplish their individual obligations; then, they can collectively fulfil the corporate obligations. Government does not have the resources for dash outs; its job is the management of the collective resources for the attainment of the aforementioned. If officials dashed out motorbikes or cars for 'kabu-kabu' to university graduates, for example, people highly educated and trained for higher tasks, that government was wasting not only the money, which was to be used rightly to provide employment for services, but also the training, which had cost much to attain. Either way, it would make the recipients and the society poorer. At the end, both would not be able to meet their obligations.' It is wasting the resources meant for a permanent solution on an 25

impromptu measure. A farmer, even though hungry, will not eat up the seeds reserved for planting; he knows he'll be in a far worse situation later. Therefore, the practical thing is not, I said not, to make people poor. Doing that is possible, but you must have a good programme to do it. What things make people poor? How do we remove or negate them so that people will not be poor any more? There are three crucial elements in this: 1- People 2- Resources 3- Work Items 1 and 2 are physical realities. The third is the response of one on the other, people on resources; right reaction tilts to positive: plus, surplus, wealth; wrong reaction drops everything to negativity: zero, minus, poverty. If people do not work, most resources remain inert, some waste, either of which is a zero or a minus, loss; that will be detrimental to their ability to meet their obligations; therefore, they will be poor. Therefore, lack of work or lack of right work is the trigger for poverty. Provide people work, you are certain to end poverty. Not just employment, per se, no, provide the incentive for people to work; kick-start the economy with public works of direct benefit to the people, which will be done by the people themselves, so that as they work, they earn, and their purchasing power is boosted enough to enable them fulfil their obligations. You then tax them to retrieve what you had initially injected into the economy. If you initiate projects that only outsiders can do, while your people remain idle, your people will earn nothing by it, they will be poorer by the flight of their capital, and the result of that contracted work will be an unsustainable burden, totally useless. Equally, you must encourage and ensure the seventh, that's saving the output of work, in money and time; both are achieved through maintenance by the state and the individual, or else your efforts will degenerate into fraud. 26

Wastage of time or money or both is extravagance, which is also the root of corruption, and corruption accelerates profligacy. The corrupt, like thieves, subsume unusual obligations which they insist must be met by them. While they waste time, they fail to earn normally, but they compensate that inadequacy by taking away the fruit of the work of others, which they waste again because they underrate its value. The names may sound different, but their effects are the same, much worse from the former, really. For example, if a man employed to collect taxes is corrupt, the government revenue will drop, so, people will not get health facilities or education. The government then starts to fail in meeting its own obligations. Consequently, the people's level of work drops, they earn less and become less able to meet their obligations; so, both the government and the people become poor! Corruption is therefore the root of this malice and unless you remove it, people will always remain poor. Corruption, at the end, destroys all works, so does theft. But, a corrupt person is deadlier, the worst enemy any human society can have. The north is now poor and reduced to beggary because of wide spread corruption. The rich use their affluence to subdue the minds of the poor. The needy can only break free by work. Work defines the value of man. At the moment, you need to encourage people to work; they will have no time for begging. The question is what work? But there are millions of works. I met a graduate who said he had been looking for work for the past 5 years. I said he was not serious. A degree was not supposed to make him redundant. It was meant to equip him with ability. I asked if he knew how to mend any machine. No. Construct a chair. No. Weld anything. No. Lay electric wires. No. Nail zinc on a roof. No. Build as a mason. No. Mend shoes. No. Make burnt bricks, No. Make any kind of brick. No. I said what on earth you think you came to the world for. He looked at me puzzled. I told him, even girls in my house could mend doors. I was surprised he was surprised! The north needs its youth to learn all these trades that are now being done by others. How can a whole people rely on a resource, not theirs, not even near 27

them, and assume to be great? Other people have left their homeland miles away in search of honest livelihood, while you hang around waiting for someone to change your condition. No, no. That can't be done. It’s never done before. Your rich are busy building mansions. Be a bricklayer, you will earn from them. They buy huge cars, be a mechanic, you will earn from them. They eat lots of chicken, raise poultry, you will get their money. So, if there is anyone who has the interest of this place in mind, and there are many, then, they should encourage their people to get busy learning and doing trades that are needed. With work, man slaves for himself. That is what made north worth anything before; that is what will get it out of trouble now. Not a thieving government, not a sitting duck president, not violence or hatred, not begging or false reliance. REBUILDING THE NORTH 4 Any one seriously considering the rebuilding of the North must give thought to this topic, Islam: the North and the Sharia. Soon, you will discover those who say, 'we are Muslims, we need Sharia.' Yes, it is their legitimate right not only to say so but to demand thus. It is left to you to sort things out. Nigeria, though, is a sovereign country, with a federal constitution that recognizes and accepts only geographical demarcations and individual identity. The Nigerian constitution does not recognize ethnicity or religion as basis of classification. All religious and tribal affiliations are tolerable liabilities that must be phased out gradually. As a Nation-State, Nigeria views God as an idea, a temporality, a phasing in the schedule of human dynamic evolution to the ultimate state of perfection. It is man not God that is truism in this philosophy of the materialistic Europe. A Muslim in a modern state is a citizen first before being allowed to claim God as his second non-authoritative master. Nationalism is the Alfa and Omega of the Nigerian State. All energy and resources are expendable for the achievement of a unified nation. It demands allegiance, loyalty, and the finality of adherence. It asks for the ultimate sacrifice, death in defence of the fatherland. Nationalism is 28

the religion and the nation is the god. In the present circumstance, a Muslim in Nigeria has two choices: 1- to accept the status of a minority and be subdued to the mere ritual of the Sharia hoping to win converts for a later day 2- to migrate to any other land where, instead of Nation, God is being worshipped according to the Sharia. Equally, the states in Nigeria have the same choices in a more constrained similitude. 1Remain confederated, operating the same constitution, preserving the sovereignty of the Nation, implementing some constitutionally acceptable injections of the Sharia. The States may use this period for incubation, smoothening off the differences, forming the Umma, halting the moral decay, preserving the institutions, and breeding the next generation of God-loving people. 2On the other hand, after assessment of all possibilities, the states may choose to call for a National or Constitutional Conference or Dialogue. The National Conference is to evolve a new confederate constitution that will allow all the states to exist in a lose federation, operating divergent political philosophies. [Of course this is not the spirit of Nationalism]. RESOLVING THE DILEMMA The governors of those northern States agitating for Sharia must reflect on certain observations on this matter. Fore most, they need much patience and lots of knowledge to map up worthy strategies; it takes time to attain an enduring social transformation. i- Our society is now divided into warring sects; yet, unity among the Umma is central for the Sharia. There must be an agreeable code of practice applicable to all. ii- Sharia is not what the leaders want but what God wants. They cannot select or reject from the Sharia according to their wishes. iii- The leaders must consult with their people. They must explain to them the full implication of adapting a new way of life. 29

iv- All fields of activity will presumably be affected: the markets, the banks, the schools, hospitals, offices and the entire administration machinery. The courts and the law-enforcement agencies, the homes and the mosques will have to be tuned to the new order. The governments must therefore draw a comprehensive blueprint for implementation. v- Sharia is not just the cutting of arms, stoning of the adulterer or whipping of the drunkard or liar, it is submitting to God wholly and totally in all things, at all times in all places. Allah [Subhanahu wa ta’ala] does not derive pleasure in punishment, nor should any mortal arrogate that to himself. The Punishment in the Shari’a is essentially for reform, for deterrence, for purging and a way of return to the Lord. vi- The leaders must aim at truth, fairness and justice that is the spirit of Sharia as against Kufr. We are well aware of the trends of injustices and judicial discrimination on favouritism and gratification that characterize our society at present. The essence of Islam is to make man recognize evil to hate it, not just to force him to leave it while loving it. Sharia aims to reform man, to make him submit willingly to God. vii- The people must know that one-day they may have to defend their faith with their properties and their lives, for they shall be fought. viii- The newly revived Umma must expect and accept the influx of other submissive Muslims from other parts of Nigeria or beyond, reliving Medina in our time. In this will be their test and their strength. They must be generous, amiable and supportive. Before long the new Umma will attain specialty in trade, defence and many other spheres of human enterprise. ix- The newly formed society of believers must be prepared for all that is coming. To be with God means to be vigilant, courageous, patient and industrious, constant and consistent, mindful and resilient, yet thoughtful and daring. There will be trials both for the Umma and for the individual. The call for Sharia is not a small issue; it is a serious life time business. 30

THE POLITICS OF SHARI’A The Government being the depository of the instrument of power has a great role to perform. Whatever is done must be within the framework of the Sharia, though. It is obvious, however, that the state will do nothing to make submission to Allah easy! But, assuming, as in all democracies, the majority calls for it, the following steps are guides. Step One The head of this government must call for an internal forum, inviting all those sectarian groups in the society claiming Islam to be their religion. Here they must iron out their 'Dariqatal' Orientations and reconcile their differences. They must come out of this exercise as a united body. They must have a single pivot, focusing on the central theme of the Sharia. Step Two The second conference is to assess the now reconciled Umma. The geographical, numerical and economic standing of the society should be appraised, determining the viability of the separate existence of the Umma, should that be necessary. There should be no illusion about this. No one can conceive of the acceptance of Sharia, as Sharia into a Nation-State Constitution. The evaluation is essential for the Sharia has already mapped out the relationship of neighbours for an Umma. a-[Minority] - Where the Muslims are few and weak, living within a non-submissive system, they remain within it as long that does not prevent them from submitting to God. If they face steep opposition, or obstruction to total submission, they should migrate to a more favourable environment. b-[Majority]- Where the Muslims are many or few but strong or in the majority, they must submit totally and wholly as an Umma to the Will of Allah, enforcing Ma’aruf and preventing Munkar with all the instrument of power at the state’s disposal. 31

Step Three There must be a third conference, serving as a forum for resolving the very nature of the State. The position and roles of those who do not belong to the Umma will be spelt out. a- They have the option of staying to be protected by the Umma, without discrimination or injustice, b- they may depart receiving compensation for what ever they leave behind. The Umma must plan for either, to avoid disruptions within the fabric of the society. There should be no riot, but a deliberate and programmed dissolution of the union now called Nigeria and a fusion of new agreeable entities. Now is the time to make dedications, acknowledging Allah and according him all that have been wrongly assigned to someone or something. Step Four The Consultative Assembly, or by whatever name it is called, must be based on the premise of the Sharia. These are people elected for piety, knowledge and hard work. They legislate under Allah’s guidance. Determining the place of the traditional rulers in an Islamic setting must be very appropriate at this stage. We all are aware of the fact that the Prophet, [Sallal Lahu Alaihi wa Sallam] did not bequest power to his next -of-kin. Even though he indicated his preference for Sayyidina Abubakar, he allowed the people to choose their own leaders after him. That was the tradition of the Muslim State up to Sayyidina Ali. From then on, it was metamorphosed into a genealogy. Who will be the Amirul Muminin of the coming Umma? There is no way in any system where you can have rulers with equal claims, let alone in Islam, which is a system of perfection. Will it be the elected governor under the Nigeria constitution, re-affirmed by the Umma, or the traditional ruler appointed by the governor, reaffirmed by the Umma or any other cleric accepted as learned and 32

fitting for the Umma? Finally, if all these raging issues are smoothened, all the arms of government and the various segments of the society must be made to reflect the new spirit of submission to Allah’s will. THE DIPLOMACY OF SHARI’A The Neighbourhood In the Sharia, humanity is based on Din (Way of life) not on race, language, colour, physique, wealth, sex or age. There are two parties only: the Party of God and the other, the party of Tdagut. The two are contentiously opposed. They differ in their aims and objectives as in their means and methods of actualizing their goals. While the Party of God is gauged through Sharia, which is divine and eternal, the other party is whimsical, shifting goals and goal posts according to the fancies of its members or its leaders. The diplomatic parameters of a Muslim State are subsequently well defined. The intent is to make human being free from physical, mental and spiritual bondage to anything other than Allah. The Muslims have two kinds of neighbours: 1. A non-Muslim state with at peace with them, 2. A non-Muslim state at war with them The first is when mutual understanding is established between the Muslims and the non-Muslims for commerce, technical assistance or non-aggression. The Second is where there is no pack, and there is no peace. In fact, the neighbours are steep in hatred for the Muslims, waiting for the slightest opportunity to strike them. To each of these two conditions, the Shari’a has provided armful legislation as to their rights and obligations The Sharia guarantees the right of the non-Muslims in all respect. Their places of worship, their businesses and their honour are jealously guided against abuse. Islam is the only granter of untainted human right; it discriminates on nothing on which man has no ability to control: his race, colour, sex, parentage, wealth, health, land, time, in all things 33

but his belief. Even on this his belief is guarded against forceful violation and he receives more than he may ever deserve. ECONOMICS OF THE SHARI’A We must aim at building for the next Twenty-five years, for the generation to come. The Building Blocks The steps necessary to take can be briefly listed as: Preparatory: defining development goals and objectives Establishment: setting up economic activities Operation: running business for reaping benefits Objectives: The first and most important ingredient for success in economic field for the Muslims is to define the objectives. There is a world of difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim pursuit of development. The non- Muslim is driven by the self-gratification as ultimate: researching and producing as dictated by profitability measured in monetary terms. Morality or ethics do not count. Monetary profitability is the goal and all means are justified. The Muslim, on the other hand, seeks to maximum growth for the public good in those things permitted only by the Sharia. Therefore, his criterion of achievement is not just the figures at the end of business, but the inner tranquillity that his efforts have been generated toward earning Allah’s Pleasure. Ours should be to discourage wastage and consumerism, to encourage durability and productivity. Industrial Base In pursuit of growth, the Sharia States are restricted to legitimate trade and commerce in goods and services permissible in Sharia. The drive should be to allow the members of the Umma to engage in industrial activities that are labour intensive initially to get the bulk of the population fully employed. 34

The government should not involve itself in establishing factories. Its primary concern should be in regulation and provision of amenities equitably, and efficiently. Islamic government is very much a small government, open, less bureaucratic, honest and efficient. The work of such a government is to create conducive atmosphere for people to seek the bounties of God, "Fadlul Lah". The talents, funds and resources of Muslims moving in from other parts of the 'country' or the world at large should be of great benefit to all. Operations There is a great difference between the operation of businesses and Industries in an Islamic State as against the non-Muslim economy. The hours of work, the prayer breaks, the working environment, the seasonal breaks for fasting and Hajj, the gender issues, and many of these things peculiar to Islam must be planned for and accommodated within the industrial and administrative setup. No one should be left to live in beggary, without trade or profession. Islam is not a lazy religion. We must make the Way of Our Lord look good for us and enticing for others to follow. It is the Islamic dictate to be highly and efficiently productive, yet mildly and sparingly consuming. Thus the surplus goes to those in need yet incapable of meeting up. Sharia is not dying in want, but living and enjoying the bounties of Allah. It is celebrating Allah's glory for all the good things He has provided for us. THE EDUCATION IN SHARI’A Education at Present From Sokoto to Maiduguri you will find a collection of young children, mostly boys, shabbily dressed, presumably students of Islam! They linger in this condition, growing up with neither education nor manners, without trades, without hope. The consequence of this is great and damaging. The kids are not trained for heaven or for earth.


The Vanguards of Islam The system of education prevalent with the vanguards of Islam was based on the understanding that all peoples; the young and the elderly, men and women alike, must know and comprehend the Word of God in order to ward off evil. Through this they developed the investigative mind as to find out the splendour of what Allah, [Subhanahu wa ta’ala] has created. The early Muslims were at the vanguard of research, relying heavily on the infallibility of the words of the Qur’an as it provides in-depth insights into both the physical and spiritual phenomena. The Qur’an is full of commandments from Allah, [Subhanahu wa ta’ala] urging the Muslims "to look, to see, to consider, to reflect, to search, to compare, to understand". The system of education that the Muslim states must evolve in replacement of the chaotic "Zaure" tradition should have the following as basis. 1. Knowledge of the metaphysical for spiritual strength 2. Knowledge of the physical for communal advancement This is the spirit of Islam. The system of education evolved must be well organized and tailored to meet the requirement of the Muslim Umma. Whether the north goes the Sharia way or not, a change is called for. We need to understand the root causes of the current malice, for us to have an effective reconstruction. Way back in the 50s through to 60s, the north, especially the Muslim north had certain social structure that needs be looked at to find out what really happened to transform the place. The elders then were generally either literate in the Islamic context or not. Besides the Malams, virtual all elders were either farmers or traders. It was unheard of to find many idle people hanging around, except for infirmity. The youth could be divided into: a- those attending Qur'anic schools only and b- those attending both qur'anic and western schools concurrently. At the begging of the civil war in the late 60s, any 36

dropouts from these schools ended up pursuing the trades of their parents; the incongruent ones ended up in ‘tasha., as drivers, loaders or miscreants. The bright ones of the qur'anic school would continue that pursuit ending up as malams or imams. Equally, the bright ones in the western system went to secondary schools. During the war, those outside the school system fed the needed manpower in the army. At the end of the war, a new social division had evolved in the North: a- the western-educated youth b- the army youth c- the non-educated non-army youth in the market places. Because of the disruption of the war, the army youth came back with money and new power. The antagonistic feeling between them and the western educated was deep. It was easier for them to ally with the non-educated in the society. These two groups had very low moral values or consideration; they soon formed an alliance of using their friends as contractors; soon, the culture of public nonperformance became widespread. Meanwhile, the newly graduated found their pride eroded. The high impression they were held at before by the society, girls and the ladies especially, now went to the moneybag soldiers and their contractors. Thus, the highly educated chaps, whom Sardauna thought would be the talented leaders of the north, started to join the bandwagon of the illiterate rich. They took bribes. They inflated contracts. They became like the soldiers busy accumulating. Before long, the traditional institution of the rulers and social leaders joined in. Then, the Malams came up, not to be left behind, claiming to provide sanctuary against dismissal or punishment. This way, the northern society, all of it became engulfed in a rush to outdo each segment. Within 20 years, the north had changed completely. Therefore, any one nursing a hope for change, it must be apparent by now that the change must come by reordering, or restructuring the society strata. This is a society with a lot of dichotomies; the eastern and western education running side by side, most times at parallels. The 37

western and eastern educated all avoiding literal mixture with the general population which is neither eastern nor western educated. Change and total transformation is possible but, unlike the unplanned but persistent erosion of social values of the past, the intended restructuring would be more difficult and time taking than most people would wish for. Building a true Northerner We all yearn for change in the North now. Yet, change is a very difficult thing. Whoever said to you 'it's easy', he has certainly not tried it himself. Remember, what you see now has taken time to be what it is. So, to change to something else will equally take much time and much effort. Generally, to charge from Good to Bad is easier and faster than to change from Bad to Good. You need no school or permission to do the former! All you have to do is copy it! In the same vein, those you see now having it easy riding on the back of people, those who have grabbed the resources of the public, most of them don't consider themselves being wicked or doing anything out of place. In fact, they are likely to think they are doing the world a favour! To ask them to stop or to make them stop is no small work. Expect strong resistance, doing that. In essence, changing the north is not impossible. Other societies had gone worse, yet, they had been rescued. But, it requires a lot. You, the proponents of change, must articulate what you want to replace, what to put in its place, how to do it, when to do it and where to do it. You too must be convinced of why you want to do it. As we all know, the north is a wide varied area in geography, demography, ethnicity, material resources and religions. The common bond between its people is physical and historical; physical, because we can't shift the mountains; historical, because at one time Shehu Dan Fodio and his followers had shed their blood to define the enclave. No can we undo that history. We have variance in religion because God in his mercy has destined such as a trial. Within this variation, we have to find the common thread to knit. What we have to do must be vital to all of us, not just in the north; 38

we are also joined with other peoples. In such light, we need a north that has Justice, fairness, tolerance and affluence. These four cardinals are common, shareable, attainable and highly desirable. In all of this, we must emphasise that the individual is the main object of change, because to change a society, you must evolve ways to make it easier for a person to change; with each person changing so is the society changed. THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS One of the fastest and most effective ways of transforming the backward north is to get those people in the region who have excess or spare fund to invest locally to get the people, most especially the youth, engaged in profitable trades. This is of course, easier said than done for factors which also have to do with the current social decay of the society. a- generally, it is easier for northerners, especially the Hausa, to save and spend their fortunes and capitals on ceremonies than in business. b- the well-to-do would rather curve for themselves names as the most of those who sponsor Hajj-seats than those who sponsor young budding entrepreneurs. c- those considered poor or underdogs find it easy to squander whatever money or trusts they receive from the rich, thinking it is cheap money, non-refundable! This has scared away the rich from extending their money to any prospective local investment. d- the rich and the local authorities hardly patronise ventures run by their own kinsfolk. Thus, those newly setup ventures by the youth are destined to die for lack of encouragement through patronage. e- the northern newly rich also prefer to stack their cash into boxes, holes or banks instead of setting up or encouraging others to set up business ventures. f- the northern elite have made everyone poor by appropriating the public funds that are meant to provide services to the people, thus, making it impossible for people to make any saving for 39

investment after providing those same services for themselves. Education, health and security, water and electricity, all take a lot of money to provide, this after the officials have robbed the treasury. g- all societies and clubs set up to help members with funds end up breaking up because of lack of trust and sincerity in running them; co-operatives, social clubs, business ventures and the like have proved impossible to run in the north because of prevalent dishonesty. h- the craze now to build, pouring money into concrete towers that do no one any good; they are not convertible to money even after the death of the wasters! If any thing, they only provide employment and market to those certainly not northerners! i- while most people operate tray-or-wheelbarrow-trades not worth the name, selling kola-nuts, mangoes, needles and match boxes, the rich spend millions importing monster cars that cruse on dual-roads built with the money of those who cannot afford shoes to cover their bare feet! Unless, such trust is restored, it will be near impossible to build an environment conducive for any appreciable economic progress. Those wanting to change the north must work out ways and means of addressing these delimiting factors. 1-the rich must change their consumption pattern 2-they must set up local business financing outlets 3-stop stealing public funds 4-the poor must be honest and trustworthy 5-must strive to return trusts THE NORTH: TIME FOR ACTION So much has been said and much written on the problems of the North; it is almost becoming boring. What is needed to be done has also received more than a fair attention. Then, what next? The continual chat is enlightening, or rather entertaining, but it should not be taken as an end to itself. Action is needed; yet, everybody is waiting for someone to do something and there isn't that someone now. The North is like a 40

broken 'tangarai' china-plate, fragmented in bits: physically, socially, administratively, economically and religiously. There is no effective single voice or body in an enforcing form to sew the pieces into place. With a region so endowed with material and human resources, one wonders what went wrong for the northerners to be in a pitiful state they are in. All that could go wrong had gone wrong with them. Seeing its leading elite parading themselves in babying and pageantry, one would think their common people must be lucky to have such a class of smart people. Alas. There is a sharp contrast between the destitution of the region and the glamour of its leaders. Why? The Northern governors' forum is an avenue only for those attending to take a recess, to draw allowances, have photo opportunities to launch their national political ambitions on stage; they have no mandate or mechanism for enforcing any of those wayward ideas they discuss. Even NECO or WEAC is more bitting than the lot! It is the same with the northern tradition rulers' forum; made of powerless people who are made to relay on the local government chairmen for permission or fuel money for any outing. They have neither authority no means to enforce any thing anywhere. They just relay on the goodwill of the common people in whose name they seek contracts which they are quick not to execute. Equally, the Jama'atul Nasirul Islam is toothless on anything. It has even lost its monopoly on unifying nature of announcing the Ramadan moon sighting; now, it is left with the Qur'an recitation competition, as if that is what Islam is all about. They are not able to draw together the fragmented Muslim community to discuss anything. There is no single business community to unite anybody on any economic issue; the rich here prefer to take their investment down to the South and to buy any government venture to put under lock! Who else is left? The civil service union, the road transport workers union, the students' union and what else? One is busy looking for cosy allowances for its members, the second is tied to 41

politicians and the last is crippled by its teachers' constant industrial strikes! Without an authoritative and effective regional body, how on earth can you have a regional solution to any regional problem? The irony is that if you see any unity in pursuit of anything in the North, then it is either in the markets or the hospitals! With this, you need to think again! EPILOGUE Here is a suggested agenda for action to any person or group planning to plunge into the North-Reconstruction-Project (NRP) a- the formation of a group or the fusing of existing groups b- raising of funds or gathering resources c- educating and enlightening the public for fellowship d- pressurizing the existing authorities on urgent reforms e- politicizing the group or groups ffielding in or financing own law-makers g- acquiring leadership You want change, ladies and gentlemen, then be ready for change 'fa iza azamta, fa tawakkal alal Lah'. Wishing you the best,

Usman Aliyu 2012


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