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How the north benefits from restructuring

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Abubakar Tafawa Balewa


I refer to Adetokunbo Pearse opinion article with the above headline in The Guardian of October 17, 2017. I wish the behemoths in the north take him seriously but I know they would pay him no mind. The feudal-aristocrats up north enjoy the status-quo and celebrate the culture of having the cornucopia kept in their houses only, to the disadvantage of the majority.Go to the houses, at the gates, of supposedly rich people at certain times to see the fealty of the disadvantaged people to these supposedly rich folks and you will understand what I mean. Supposedly, because most Nigerians get rich not from the manufacturing of goods and services, industry but from politics and civil service.

It’s surprising to see very rich civil servants. In Latin America, generals are in the middle-class, in Nigeria, they are in the super class. If there is anything like that. Some swashbucklers have joined the fray, they go to South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, come back to Nigeria as rich international business men building cathedrals. You never hear of the wonderful products they manufactured. Thank the Lord, I have friends scattered around prosperous western countries and know how hard it is even for their citizens.

Someone in a public place once let drop about the antics of a senator from the middle belt who enjoins to connect his community in a Chopper because of the decrepit road to it. You wonder what makes him a ‘distinguished’ senator when he cannot solve the problems of his people and whose major contribution to his people according to this fellow, is the giving of nickels which the poor use for the purchase of ‘akara’ balls while cavorting for him during electioneering periods.

That’s the forte of the people there. They wouldn’t seek to liberate their people because of the falsity that dignity is achieved by the servitude of the poor. Election times in the north are business times for the less privileged for the reason that they get nickels to go and out and vote. How they wait for these periods. Times I ask: can the north ever produce another Tafawa Balewa Abubakar, Bello Ahmadu and many other visionary northern giants who are long gone and are in Valhalla.

How many northern governors are relevant outside political office save for Balarabe Musa and for the entire south, Ahmed Bola Tinubu?The Albatross of the north is education. I don’t believe in restructuring as it is presently hammered on and I am not an evangelist of same but one for visionary leadership. Saudi Arabia the birthplace of Islam, is busy educating women and her citizens but in Nigeria we still feel it’s un-Islamic to educate them. Women who are married, hence can’t continuously stay for three or more years in the university in Saudi Arabia, still manage to study for their PhD at the university of Leeds, UK. The arrangement is called the Split-site Higher Academic Programme for Women. They have syndicated arrangements with various UK., Australian, American and Canadian universities. The host university will provide one or two supervisors and the university in Saudi Arabia will provide one. At the end of the day these women’s PhD programme will be supervised by a minimum of two competent professors.‬‬

Can northern Nigerian women compete with Egyptian, Tunisian and Iranian women who are highly educated even though they are largely in Islamic countries? The arrogant drawl against women and the mean-spiritedness of northern politicians to the poor is shocking. The doling of handouts is not liberation and cannot be a Heaven’s Fare. But who would squelch it? The Ahmadu Bello’s and co helped in winning freedom from British so their people can be free but today many are slaves to northern masters, carrying them about.

Nigeria loses because her leaders never planned to win. Citizens lack sympathy for the next man because they work with the popular view. And that popular view is to undercut the interests of the weak without liberating them fully by developing their capacity/capability for industry. Literary text for Nigeria’s growth is needed now more than ever to reduce the number of people with abbreviated intelligence and virgin eyes. These texts should aim to win the battle of the minds. “It is not weapons that decide the outcome of a war, but the men who carry the weapons.”- Chairman Mao.

What happens elsewhere should concern all Nigerians for they are so interconnected. What happens in another region is the concern of the people of that region. The Chibok girls, some people still say, without shame, “were never kidnapped.” It was just a figment of some people’s fancy and a chimera to boot. If only Nigerians loved all parts and not “our parts” of Nigeria alone, they might have challenged politicians to take the gauntlet to accept the responsibility to make decisions that will resolve crises in other places, banish hunger which is ravaging the land everywhere and make Nigerians more nationalistic. Does poverty recognise people and tribe? Poverty is the same everywhere.

I will also love to add finally and in disagreement with the writer, that the availability of minerals in itself does not make a country rich, especially if same country does not have the technology to mine these minerals, and most of all process these minerals into finished products in-country to provide jobs and for export.

And so just stating the number of minerals ( iron, lead, zinc and limestone in Adamawa, gold, coal, columbium and limestone in Bauchi, tin, marble, limestone and columbium in Benue, uranium, clay, potassium, limestone and diatom in Borno, limestone, and gypsum in Gombe, kaolin, potash, iron, oil and copper in Jigawa, serpentine, asbestos, gold, clay and graphite in Kaduna, kaolin and asbestos in Katsina, kaolin, columbium and tantalum in Kano, kaolin, bauxite, potassium, and silica sand in Kebbi, tantalum and marble in Kogi, quartz, granite rocks, marble, clay and gold in Kwara, salt and bounte in Nasarawa, clay, gold, silica, granite, marble and copper in Niger, cassiterite and barytes in Plateau, gypsum, phosphate, limestone, clay and silica in Sokoto, uranium in Taraba, potash and crypsum in Yobe, and phosphate, limestone and gold in Zamfara) that the north has, like many people, even a famous professor who was a delegate to the National Confab in 2014, doesn’t make the north rich.

The delegates even suggested that Nigeria should have 50 states just like the U.S. I couldn’t help but demure respectfully. For even if the north mines these minerals (a must do), it cannot process it into finished products in Nigeria. The country lacks the technical know-how. As important as gold is, it is stolen brazenly by Asian cartels in Zamfara. The minerals up north would still have to be exported, processed and imported back to Nigeria. Isn’t it a shame that the country imports chocolate even with Cocoa in Nigeria. It’s like someone in the buying and selling retail business. Manufacturers of products can shut them out of business because they are at the mercy of the manufacturers. It’s never a good business strategy to operate from a position of weakness.

A bigger shame that the country imports oil even with oil wells (“Nigeria is sitting on crude oil reserves estimated at 35 billion barrels enough to fuel the entire world for more than a year”) that we cannot on our own mine. The Nigerians with oil wells (5%) have all sold theirs to international oil cartels. The day the IOCS (95%) decide to leave this country, then you will know that Nigeria is a big lemonade. She is built up only by talking but in Angola, Brasil and Arab countries, they have national oil refineries. I chose not to mention the west.

Lagos is what it is today not because of Nigerian companies but by the influx of many multinational/foreign companies. Thanks to the foresight of Tinubu when he was governor of the state. Maybe he followed the principles, governmental of the late Deng Xiaoping. Replicate that in Nigeria, and citizens wouldn’t be talking about restructuring and erecting statutes to honour non-Nigerians.
• Abah wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.



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