Since independence, Nigeria has had to deal with different national issues that have threatened to tear the country apart.
In this opinion by Israel Ebije, he points out that different regions have pointed out what they want from Nigeria but that the north is yet to move forward or have a direction.
The Northern part of Nigeria comprising 19 states is most populous region in the country. The region has endless arable lands for agriculture, the groundnut pyramid era is a veritable testament to the agro-based bastion of the region. The region has also produced most numbers of leaders at the center than any other in the country.
With its advantage as the most populated region in Nigeria, a powerful position in determining which region, which personality gets the presidency, the region however seems lost in the mix of evolving demands of other regions. The North appears only fixated on leadership rather than a position substantial enough to provide it with safe haven incase other regions succeed in acquiring their demands anyway possible.
From the perspective of leadership, the North seem fixated on the glowing legacies of late Sadaunan of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and have been so lost in that past that it is yet to wake into the realities of today world of change in leadership icons. President Muhammadu Buhari may have come close to a present day leader of valor, but the past appears more juicy to the religion. An adage states that, “whoever remembers the past is not enjoying the present”.
The Yoruba’s have moved away from the glowing era of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, today they have Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Ibo’s (at least a chunk of them) have left the iconic symbol of Chief Odumegu Ojukwu for Nnamdi Kanu on their determination for a Republic of Biafra. The North has failed to provide a potent alternative for Sir Ahmadu Bello, a factor responsible for lack of unified direction of the region.
If the South east are demanding for secession, the South West, confederacy, the south-south, resource control, what does the Northern region of Nigeria want? The North appears to be having the most patriotic position to keep Nigeria focused on the path of remaining as one nation with collective aspirations, but deep down, the polarity level of various regions, what becomes of the North if other regions have their share of agitations actualized?
The north must start looking for a thinking cap, it must establish its position with safety nets to cushion itself incase the growing fragmented aspirations of other regions strangulates the life out of it, leaving the region with only one choice – a position to wield its own direction, which might be too late sooner or later.
Once the tide changes in favor of conflicting aspirations, will the North be able to stand on its own economically, politically; is the North the way it was “politically”; is the North aware it is fragmented; are the states in the middle belt ready to be part of the monolithic North?
The bourgeoning fragmented desires of other regions in the country may not necessarily eclipse the nation Nigeria just yet, but the need to have a buffer plan for the North is becoming imperative, especially now that the region is on the spotlight for all forms of insecurity and insincerity.
The North has suffered immensely as victim of poor experience in adverse effect of paucity in educational level among people living in a geographical space, with hydra headed monsters of poverty and terrorism. Sadly, The North is seen not as victim but perpetrators of terror. Already Nigerians from other parts of the country believe the Buhari led administration is set to Islamize Nigeria, based on manifest experience of the more than isolated killings of Christian population by herdsmen and skewed political appointments.
The region is perceived to be power drunk, filled with religious fueled ego of seeking to keep the leadership position at the center as prebend of the Muslim dominated North. Some Nigerians believe the rising onslaught of herdsmen in Christian communities is based on pogrom to use force to Islamize Nigeria. Most Christian dominated states like Plateau, Benue, Taraba, parts of Kaduna, Kwara, Kogi are affirming their stance as Middle belt, hoping to separate themselves from the political North on account of religious based tension.
The ill wish of a section of Nigerians targeted at the person of Buhari is based on the loath against the North and what appears like ceaseless penchant of Nigerians hating incumbent leaders. Sadly, the inglorious cyber based ethno religious battles has left the wound of hate very fresh as every divide seeks to inflict salvos of injuries along divisive sentiments. In a bid to extricate the region from poor perceptions, some of the elites from the region condescend into negative statements, endorsing fears of other regions.
With the squeeze seeping the life out of the North, escalating demands of other regions to distance themselves from the North, what does the north want and how will it help when the anchor is down? We must state it clear to ourselves that mere wish to remain one Nigeria is not enough to calm the frail nerves of people from other regions determined to walk away from the federation. Once again, what does the north want?
Every other region appears to have a focused agenda at taking off the slice of their perceived inheritance to further a cause separate from that laid by our founding fathers, except the North. The North seems not to realize it is fragmented, bereft of recognized leadership and stereotyped by other regions. It must therefore state what it wants, before it finds itself wanting everything it cannot have.