Nation building in the words of President Barack Obama “is a step forward and double steps backward”. There is no better time to redefine our journey as a nation than now, the proper word to be used in place of redefine is “restructure” but glaringly it seems to scare some circle of elites for obvious reasons but clearly it’s the medicine that will cure Nigeria of today. The consequences of our failure as a nation to look inward and redesign our path to greatness have manifested long ago and threatening our national existence. The Niger Delta militants, the rise of Boko Haram in the Northeast, the Bandits in the Northwest and Northcentral, the Biafra agitations in the Southeast and the recent ethnic profiling, attack on people of Northern extraction across the south is a clear warning.
Unlike the perception of the sectional war lords or ranting of the media and some class of elites; the problem of Nigeria is not peculiar to any region or geopolitical zone. The problem of the north is the same as the problem in the south and no matter how complex our challenges may seem; the solution is never farfetched. The unhabitable waters and farmlands ruined by the oil spillage in the Niger Delta, the long-abandoned Fulani herdsman in the wilderness of Nigeria forest, and the large number of children roaming the streets of the northern states, all left without education, health, not to talk of any social amenities. The growing unemployment, hyperinflation, and the increasing class gap all occasioned mainly by social injustice motored by the system that is driving us to our Destiny Land.
However, the dare need for the overhaul is far more resonating in the North, the region with so much and so much to do yet so little is being achieved. The Centre of Learning with lowest literacy level, the Food Basket of the nation with so much hunger, the Beautiful Land that lost its Pearl for Tourism, a Home with neither Peace nor Hospitality. The Savannah that lost its Jewel, the Land with no Equity, States without Harmony, from the Caliphate to the Sahel the region lost its Pride for Farming, its Peace for Tourism and abandoned its Natural Gift to the nation and no longer in Confluence with other regions, this is the New World for the North. As described by His Royal Highness Mohammad Sanusi II, “if Yobe and Borno were to be a country, it will be worse than Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic”
North have invested so little on educating its children, Northern states hardly spent up-to ten percent of their annual budget on education. Hundreds of students averaged a class with poorly equipped and trained teachers. Upsurge of mushroom private schools will attest to this failure. We build more religious centres and waited for government to build schools for us, the worst of us teach our children in our primary schools. Failed UTME students that do not secure admission into our universities end of in our Teaching Institutions and will be returned to teach the future.
Large number of our children are roaming our streets begging for food, being trafficked to cities in the name of Almajiri education and ended up on child labour. Almajiri education serve it purpose on 18th and 19th century but have lost its place in the 21st century Nigeria. Better it is for us to harmonise our curriculum and give every child a descent education in a befitting environment. There are no rules or laws to regulate religious education, hence anybody can rise to a pulpit. Consequently, the Maitatsine and Boko Haram crises as well as so many interfaith clashes across North fuelled by senseless hate-speech preaching.
There is no state in the North that is free of insecurity, either bandits in the west or insurgents in the east or both at the central. Nigerians were reported by Premium Times to have paid N7billion Seven Billion Naira in 2020 for ransom. School children were abducted at will, farmlands abandoned, our roads deserted, and our villages incessantly attacked, maimed, our women rapped and killed. As opinionated by sheikh Dr Ahmed Abubakar Gumi “there are several classes of this bandits and there are more to meet the eye than generally perceived”. He argued that some of the bandits are forced to carry weapons against the state in what he referred to as social injustice and carnage perpetrated against them and advised authorities to grant them amnesty.
Nevertheless, we must avoid what is becoming a new threat most especially in our rural communities, that is ‘ethnic profiling’ of the Fulanis. They were avoided, flush out and perceived as criminals until they prove innocent even here in the North. Sheikh Othman Bn Fodio in his work Bayan Wujub al-Hijra states that “a nation can endure in unbelief, but not in injustice”
The task of rebuilding the 21st century Nigeria is heavy, that no one state, or region can do it alone, for Nigeria to achieve its full potential we must exhibit high sense of patriotism, unity and conscious of our global role to the development of black communities around the world. It is our collective responsibility to stir-away the cause of this ‘giant-ship’; we must all get involved in whatever way we can to improve the situation. It’s the destiny of my generation to build the Nigeria of our standard and the Nigeria that is in confluence with the future of the global economy. There is enough blame to be traded, but it won’t recant the damage and will never solve the problem.
Despite the gory picture painted, there is overwhelming believe that Nigeria is yet to achieve its full potential. In his book Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, the former United State Ambassador to Nigeria states that “Nigeria most important asset is its youths more important than oil”. Also, David Bloom a Harvard Professor in a report sponsored by British Council and Harvard School of Public Health affirm this believe that “Youth not oil will be the country’s most valuable resources in the 21st Century Nigeria” Therefore We Can.
Abdulraheem JJ Dogara