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IKE ABONYI
Ike's Column Opinion

The Nero in Northern Leaders

We came from the past where any attempt to tell the truth to people in the position of power is categorized as blasphemy. We came from the past where any attempt to publicly criticize, disagree or even advice the Government can lead one to be lynched by mobs of fanatical supporters of the Government. We came from the past where leaders were elevated to saints, deities and infallible demigods. We are now coming to terms with the reality
Shehu Sani

That lamentation of an awful reality from the comic former Northern Nigeria Senator, Shehu Sani, on his facebook page mirrors exactly the situation in the Northern Nigeria before and now. If there are anywhere leaders enjoy the inferiority of the led and do nothing to improve on it, such place is Northern Nigeria.

The highly revered Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad even before the Zabamari farmers massacre last weekend had also underscored the grisly situation in the region recently when he cried out that bandits in the North now fetch their victims from their homes in a door to door search for their prey and described the North as the worst place to live.

The same Sultan in October ironically praised Northern youths for not joining their Southern counterparts in the #Endsars protest, notwithstanding that it was the boldest and most pragmatic effort in the country to sit up this drowsy  government on the frightening insecurity in the land.

One is therefore tempted after a critical analysis of the security situation in the North to poke on these leaders as shading crocodile tears because nothing being witnessed today was not forewarned. The leaders past and present are all collaterally liable of the situation. The problems emerged due largely to the glaring inactions of leaders who copiously show their selfishness and lack of empathy for the downtrodden in their midst.

It can even be safe to accuse Northern leaders of fiddling with politics while the North is being destroyed. The actions of most Northern leaders reminds us of the great legendary fire of Rome in the year 64.
Precisely on JULY 18, year 64, the great fire of Rome broke out and destroyed much of the city. That was during the reign of Emperor Nero who was very good, well talented in the use lyric musical instruments.

History says and is now used metaphorically that while Rome burned Emperor Nero was more consumed in what he loved doing fiddling with his musical gadgets. Even if Nero did not start the fire, for not taking responsibility, for not showing commitment to the fire that was burning in a section of Rome, the slums of a district of the Palatine Hills, he was liable. Three of the 14 districts of Rome then were completely burned down in the fire that lasted for three days.

Nero’s reaction after the fire was to clamp down on the growing influence of Christians in Rome then. He arrested, tortured and executed hundreds of Christians on the pretext that they had something to do with the fire.

With due respect I have found the behavior of most Northern leaders past and present akin to that of Emperor Nero in so many ways. Northerners have continued to pride themselves as very talented in politics especially when compared to the other regions sharing the country with them.

Because they have found themselves to be masters in politics they have continued to play the game of politics mindless that it’s not impacting on their people in the area of development.

Even as the region burns, their leaders like Nero are more interested in what they love doing playing politics. If Northern leaders past and present, military or civilian had given the same mental and physical energy they gave to politics to development, the region would have been a modern day Dubai. After all the great Sokoto Caliphate was already in existence when Dubai was a desert, but what is Dubai today and where is Sokoto today. Except perhaps for the Sultan palace there is nothing in Sokoto to take home.

Of the 60 years of Nigeria nationhood, the North has been in power for over 40 years and still counting yet nothing tangible to show in development. All they shamelessly flaunt is their mastery of politics, how they control power and decide who gets what. This is even as the region remains backwards in every area of development index. The neglect and the poverty in the region became so pronounced that the abandoned population now turn on each other as terrorists and bandits.

Perceptibly, panicky Northern Governors during the year hurriedly announced the banishment  of the almajiris from the streets of the North, sent them to their states of origin and do nothing further than that about their future. Some of these youths had to migrate to the South for livelihood.

Former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who was preaching a realistic family planning policy that should match the economic reality was booted out of office. If Nigeria is the global poverty center, it’s because of the North but no serious effort is being made by current and past leaders to address it, rather their leaders preoccupy themselves with politics.

Even amidst these overwhelming challenges in the region, what appears to be the concern of most Northern leaders now is who becomes President in 2023 nearly 30 months away. The intrigue of who gets what in 2023 engross their minds to the exclusion of any other thoughts while the region remains engulfed in mindless bloodletting.

If North as a region is seriously conscious of development and sensitive to their prevailing challenges, every of their actions now should be channeled towards securing and reconciling themselves and infrastructural development for a visibly destroyed region. But instead when they gathered recently in Kaduna under the umbrella of Arewa Consultative Forum, their focus was on 2023 not on their perilous situation.

Rather than bring a development expert to help proffer ideas on how to get off the wood, they went instead for a Presidential aspirant, Governor Kayode Fayemi whom they described as the adopted son of the North to talk politics.

Meanwhile to be able to hold the lecture the entire security apparatus in the state was turned on to avert youth invasion of the venue. Virtually all the guests arrived Kaduna via rail or by air as all routes to Kaduna by road were blocked by angry criminals making a living by kidnapping for romance and killing in the process.

As Northern Nigeria is skidding dangerously what couscous leaders should be doing is to channel every energy and resources to the situation and leave politics for now. But to get Emperor Nero to stop fiddling with lyre when part of Rome was burning amounts to taking him out of his love. To get Northern leaders to leave politics and tackle their myriads of problems would be like taking away the baby’s mouth from the mother’s breast.
But what is the essence of a political power that is not translating to better living for the people?

Since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari came into office Northerners have occupied virtually all strategic positions in security, (Defence, Army, Police, DSS, NIA etc) and money making bodies, (NNPC, Customs, Ports Authority, FIRS etc). Ditto in Education sector, but security, poverty and education remain the biggest albatrosses of the region. The occupants certainly have been useful to themselves and their immediate families.

Chicken has now come home to roost, time has arrived to confront the nurtured problem and stop the double standards. The hypocrisy of a Governor supervising the destruction of millions of beer businesses in the joy of protecting religion but steals public funds and drinks heavy wine in their homes should know that they are not growing anybody spiritually but under developing the place.

Those who abuse the likes of Aisha Yusuf for being vocal against injustice will soon bear the consequences of their duplicity.

However, it would be unfair to end this conversation without recognizing an obvious exception to the deep rooted deception of Northern leaders, the current Governor of Borno state, Prof Babagana Zulmun whose mien in office since 2019 has been exemplary and shown in him a leader full of empathy for his people. He stands out as the kind of leader that gives hope to the North if only they will allow him.

The essence of this discourse therefore is to tell Northern leaders to come to terms with the reality and stop playing their unproductive politics that has kept the region down. The people should ask their leaders to point out their achievements in terms of investments that benefit the North.

Those in the region opposing power returning to the South or restructuring are really not doing any good to their people but using defence of status quo to protect their selfish interests using religion, tribe and geo- political interests to exploit the people. They are really the enemies of the North.

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