Go To Desktop Site
Custom Search

OPINION: Can Northern Nigeria be home to all? By Abdulrazaq Magaji

Date: 2017-04-15

 

The late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto and first premier of the defunct Northern Region will turn in his grave at the damage his descendants have done to his legacy in the region he once presided over. Serial killings, socio-economic dislocations caused by years of despising, religious and ethnic intolerance and debilitating poverty have combined to destroy the peace of the once-harmonious north. Discordant tunes by leaders of the region are indicators of how bad things are.

Things are truly falling apart for the north. Yet, one indisputable fact northern Nigerians across the ethnic and religious divide are agreed is that the late Sir Ahmadu Bello contributed immensely to the religious harmony the region enjoyed prior to and, in the years after independence. The late premier was said to be tolerant of non-Muslim populations of the north, appointed them into sensitive positions in the regional government and ensured that some of his closest advisers and confidants were people who did not necessarily profess his faith.

The late premier embraced all, tolerated all and never discriminated against any one on the basis of religion. Many in today's middle belt who were originally non-Muslims were encouraged to adopt the Islamic faith largely on account of the way the Sardauna fellowshipped with them. Yes, he was one Muslim political leader who never allowed religion to influence his dealing with others. If any non-Muslim of his era or any non-Muslim northerner of this era harboured misgivings, it could not have been on the basis of religious differences.

As a mortal, Sir Ahmadu Bello had his shortcomings. But, he succeeded as a political leader because he was what many of us are not. A little over fifty-one years after he and some of the country's finest political leaders were brutally cut down by drunken and over-pampered soldiers, Sardauna's name is still nostalgically mentioned in the present. Sadly, even the meanest of today's human locusts and vultures are quick to bandy his name of around without even pretending to replicate what the man stood for.

What made the late Sardaunan Sokoto a successful politician was his heart that was large enough to accommodate everybody and anybody with views contrary to his. And what is more, he had foresight. Aware of the large concentration of non Muslims within his domain and aware of what they could contribute to his success as a leader, the late Sardauna reached out to all and left out none. Fifty-one years on, Sardauna's time-tested dictum of 'let's understand and appreciate our differences', has been turned upside down.

For northern Nigeria, things are dangerously falling apart and the centre appears incapable of holding. The region has inflicted so much damage to itself and, today, no thanks to the leadership paralysis in the region occasioned by the greed, gluttony and short sightedness of the present crop of political leaders, the already economically marginalised region is at great risk of being politically marginalised. Unhappily, even supposed authentic voices that should chart the way forward engage in needless bickering.

At the heart of the matter is the failure of the north to, permit the usage, put its house in order. The north has never been this disunited and unwieldy .Proof that things have got so bad is the near universal fact that you could unwittingly, though innocently, be igniting a mini civil war by simply referring to a Kaje or Birom or Higgi person, or any member of the 'northern minorities', even the Muslims among them, as Hausa.

The reverse was the case some few years back. Nothing underscores this flight of tolerance than the crises in Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna and Plateau states, among others. Until very recent times, the Birom or Angas saw nothing wrong with a Hausa or Fulani man from Wudil or Wurno setting up home on the plateau, taking up 'citizenship' of Plateau state and enjoying all the benefits of an indigene. Again, the now-vexing issue of settler/indigene dichotomy, the new source of tension and blood-letting in the north, was virtually absent few years ago. No more so! Today, it is common for northerners to murmur endlessly that they no longer feel 'at home away from home'

Of course, the ill-feelings of the recent past and the acrimonies that have continued to ignite senseless killings can/. be reversed. The first point of departure is to quit, for once, the ingrained pretences that a particular religion or ethnic group js more northern than others. Secondly, it was not an accident that God peopled northern Nigeria with Muslims, Christians and animists. It was not an accident that different ethnic groupings found themselves in the region. Had God wished it, mankind would be speaking one and the same language and profess one and the same faith.

As it is today, Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, and Zamfara, among others have indigenous, though minority, Christian populations. We are not even talking of such states in the so called 'Muslim north' as Kaduna, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Niger with heavy concentration of Christian populations. Of course, it is assumed we all know there are states in the so-called Muslim north where majority of indigenous populations are Christians! That, precisely, is the genesis of the problem with the north, a problem which the Sardauna understood and never allowed to come in the way.

Ultimately, the senseless blood-letting in the north with the attendant loss of lives will come to an end. Before then, however, we cannot pretend that more innocent lives will not be lost to more needless killings. Whatever the case, the north should be big enough for all. And, until every northerner, irrespective of ethnic and religious leanings feels at home in any part of the vast plain of the region, the dream of a return to the old north which literally set the national agenda will remain in the pipe.

For now, no one should delude themselves into believing the north is headed in the right direction. It is not!

Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at


Recent Posts

KWHA strongly directs hoteliers in Kwara to desist from organising nude parties

Company acquires 1900 hectares of land, to create 700 jobs

ABS FC Congratulates Kwara Utd Over Promotion To NPFL

Church donates books to Unilorin Library

Man Seeks Marriage Dissolution Over Wife's Threat To Cut Off Penis

Unilorin VC pledges to hand-over better University to successor

KWARA UNITED GAIN PROMOTION TO NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Materialism, corruption bane of Africa underdevelopment - VC, Unilorin

ASUU Strike: UNILORIN, KWASU shun action

Basketball League: Kwara Falcons, Hoops And Read Win Opening Games

Kwara Govt GSK Inaugurate Medical-Van To Promote Healthcare

Kwara lawmakers grill hotel operators over strip clubs

45 primary schools in Kwara get sports equipment from lottery commission


Most Popular

Why I sacked my aides - Saraki

9 years after Sheikh Muhammad Kamalud-deen's death, Ilorin people count their loss

Oyedepo as PDP chair lacks capacity to confront APC forces in Kwara - Kunle Sulyman

KWASU VC, Jawondo extol late Saad Omoiya's virtues *My dad detests cheating, says son

CAILS Ilorin Advertises Application Form

Kwara LG Poll: Govt should clear backlogs before elections LP

Kwara 2015: 172 aspirants battle for Kwara APC tickets

Borgu, Where Nigerians, Beninois Savour Culture

Ilesha Baruba Stool: Prof. Halidu Abubakar emerges new Emir

UNILORIN shops for new Vice Chancellor

OPINION: In the Season of Worse Before Better. By Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia

Saraki dynasty to rule Kwara 80yrs

OPINION: Matters Arising on the Geri-Alimi Diamond Split Underpass. By Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia