A former colleague and friend whose views and opinions I respect so much recently posted an interesting comment on his FB wall. He said and I quote, “the difference between who you are today and in 5 years time is summed up in the books you’ve read, the people you’ve met and the places you have been to”. I cannot agree more with him!
Over the last few months, my work has taken me to places in Nigeria which most people reading this cannot really imagine. Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, and many more on the radar. I must say that I’ve learnt quite a bit from these places I’ve visited and will mention a few of them here, maybe it might bring home that quote above.
The last few years have been very unpleasant in this country with the Boko Haram ninjas on rampage. The case of the chibok girls and the incessant bombings are still very fresh in our minds. If you had asked me about 1.5 years ago, I might have hinted slyly that it might make sense if we all go our separate ways. Many of us feel this way too and we rightfully deserve to. After all, we have nothing to gain from the north so why should we continue to allow them pull us back into the stone age. At least, that was what I thought!
Traveling extensively through the region has however, confused my stand on his. And I use that word ‘confused’ carefully because that is really where I stand. I’m truly torn between several evils because that is what it really is. I hear you ask what evils. The North is impoverished from years of negligence by their own leaders who would rather give them fish than teach them to fish. It’s not unusual to see many people gather at the gate of a wealthy guy, who also from a religious perspective believes he’s meant to provide for the needs of these people. Parents give birth to kids they cannot care for and also do not have a sense of responsibility to. They send them to Islamic schools far away from home, under the tutoring of clergy men. These are the almajiri’s you here about. These kids live off the street, not selling but begging! Candidly, they have no sense of worth or parental love. They have been raised to be self dependent with a survival instinct. They do not go to school or learn a trade. They simply beg!!! Unknowingly, we have raised men and women without emotions, feelings and pain. Life means absolutely nothing to them, including theirs. I hear you say but that is not our fault and this is where my dilemma starts. Whose fault is it? For sure, not those kids cos it could have been you or me.
Let the south secede and we will have our first problem. Young, impoverished neighbours who will outnumber us and will blame us for all their woes! Does this sound familiar? The war continues along our borders and God help us if they make it far enough into the southern protectorate. Now, the hits are milder cos they also have something to benefit from the entity called Nigeria. Then, they will have nothing to benefit and will come upon us with their full might.
The other problem which is seldom discussed is the issue of food. I can say now categorically without doubt – the north feeds Nigeria!!! Our spend on food down south will shoot up the roof and inflation will rise at a faster rate than our income. If not managed carefully, we will implode down south. And then discussions will start on the possibility of the oil dudes secceding and before we know it, Ijebu will be asking to be a country of its own.
I traveled through a city called Bokkos in Plateau state and I noticed most houses were abandoned. I eventually figured it was one of the towns affected by the Jos crisis. Families were killed in cold blood. Many fled the town but few remained. You know why? Cos there was no more fight left in them. There was nowhere to go! They had given up and would embrace death than keep running.
What is my point? The North needs Nigeria as much as the South needs Nigeria. We cannot play the ostrich game here and assume all will be well with us . They are afraid and scared! Their little kids also want to go to school and aspire to something great in life. If we are indeed the better men, let’s demonstrate that and fight for our country. Selah!!!