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The problem with Northern Nigeria, by Jega, Makarfi, others

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Prof. Atahiru Jega

Prominent Northern leaders held a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, where they identified some of the problems clogging the wheel of growth and development in the 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

They also announced the formation of the ‘Abuja Roundtable’, a non-partisan and non-governmental group, designed to address the challenges facing the region.

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Some of the leaders at the meeting include 1993 presidential candidate of the National Republican Convention, Ibrahim Tofa; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed; former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega; former governors, ministers, senators; and military officers.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Tofa said: “These challenges are many and they cut across the region. These have manifested in the collapse of institutions and services, widespread poverty and inequality, mutual suspicion, endemic insecurity, disunity, despair, and a dearth of hope across the region. Every community has challenges. But to overcome challenges, there is a need to admit their existence.”

Acknowledging the failure of Northern leaders, the group said: “We have no difficulty admitting all is not well with Northern Nigeria and taking primary or vicarious responsibility for the current state of affairs. We must all – leaders, followers, and passive onlookers – accept our share of responsibility. But beyond that, we must collectively resolve to take action and remedy what went wrong going forward”.

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They noted that succeeding generations would bear “the consequences of our action and inaction, even though they bear no responsibility for how we got here. No parent would wish to bequeath a precarious future to his child and no price is too high to pay to secure the future of succeeding generations of Northerners.”

According to the leaders, the conditions and forces of division have taken root and have been left to fester unchecked over a long period. They expressed hope that as collective victims who have paid the price of division, “our people have arrived at the realisation that unity is required to resolve other challenges afflicting the region. Recent consultations with eminent political, traditional, and religious leaders across the North are encouraging.”

They revealed a strong desire to remove all obstacles to Northern unity and a commitment to overcome its challenges.

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“We will widen and deepen these consultations in the coming weeks, months and, if necessary, years in order to attain our objectives,” they said.

The leaders added: “The most urgent task, therefore, facing the peoples of Northern Nigeria is to overcome fear and suspicion, jettison unhealthy division and create consensus around common goals and aspirations. These are necessary for creating the enabling environment to address our most stubborn challenges such as insecurity, widespread poverty, the collapse of institutions and services, etc., so that order, peace, and prosperity may once again return to our region.”

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