NORTHERN Nigeria, fondly referred to by its people as “Arewa”, is heavily challenged by mass poverty, destitution and a cocktail of ethno-religious-related violence.
Both the elite and the masses live in fear for their lives. Though the situation is not limited to the North, it is this region, the largest and most powerful political bloc of the country, that bears the heaviest burdens. Many Northern leaders, particularly the Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi II, have been heaping the blame for the region’s misfortunes on the ruling class which includes himself.
But a group known as Arewa Research and Development Project, ARDP, “a conglomerate of Northern intellectuals” recently claimed it conducted a research which found out that lack of power supply was the main reason for the situation the North finds itself in.
We beg to vehemently disagree. Poor power supply is a national malaise, and it did not start today in Nigeria. It is true that without power, the industries cannot operate, “jobs cannot be created without industries, and insecurity rises without jobs”.
The question is: Why is it that the Southern geopolitical zones of the country are decades ahead of the North in basic human development indices in spite of poor power supply? The simple answer lies in the same reason that the North is lagging behind despite having total control of the political power and occupying the highest office of Nigeria for 41 out of our 59 years of independence.
The greatest problem of the North is social injustice perpetrated with the wrong application of religion. This same issue has since been made the problem of Nigeria as a whole.
Social injustice rules the relationship between the rulers and the ruled, Muslims and some sects of Islam, Muslims and Christians or non-Muslims, men and women and people of the various ethnic backgrounds, whereby there are favoured and marginalised groups.
More importantly, while the elite have embraced western education, the downtrodden are left to continue entertaining their aversion to it in preference for religious education.
This is not the case in the South. Unless the North takes urgent steps to re-engineer its society to enthrone equity and social justice, whereby all human beings irrespective of their circumstances of birth and backgrounds are accorded equal opportunities, no amount of power supply will restore the peace and equanimity needed for progress.
The same template of equity and inclusive government, with more power devolved to the people, is the simple cure for Nigeria’s insecurity and overall backwardness.
We must accept the self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal and deserve equal treatment. Only this can bring all hands on deck to build a nation. The Northern elite should stop blaming poor power supply. It did not create itself.