Identity and the “North Central” Nigerian – Part 2
The North Central region is reputed to be the food basket of the Nation, but Agriculture is still at a subsistence level. There are many minerals but they are not mined whole-scale, mining is done on a small scale with poor technology leading to environmental degradation and deaths in many instances. The purest iron ore for instance is in Itakpe in Kogi State. Ajaokuta is not working and serious governmental lobbying should be happening to resuscitate it by leaders from the North Central. Our People need leaders to share the dream of building the economy,peace and national reconstruction.
A situation where North Central leaders are often interested in foisting their opinion on who should contest the presidency on an entire Northern platform is not only unhealthy but dangerous for our existence as a people. This is currently ongoing from available reports and interviews. Our culture and aspirations are not the same and if this trend continues our children may never be conscious of their identity. The North is not homogenous and making a blanket generalization and promoting a monolithic agenda will take our people backwards.
We should aspire to promote regional identity for national development. They say we are a neutral people, that isn’t a bad description but it becomes so when we become complacent to the detriment of the growth and aspirations of our regions and peoples. This complacency has led to the underdevelopment of the north central region. Areas such as Idah, Ankpa, the Tiv lands and areas of Plateau state, remain embarrassingly underdeveloped, with poor roads, housing and lack of empowerment for their people in comparison to other geographical blocks.
Why were the regions created? They were created so a people can have an identity, further their regional development and national development. The implications of not exploiting a regional agenda are numerous. Firstly, the people may not have the direction to be conscious of self and to exploit her environment for positive purposes.
Secondly, the region will be underdeveloped. When people become lethargic due to the absence of leadership, innovation and contribution to society will be totally extinct. Thirdly, Regional and National economies will suffer. Taxes will not be paid to the region and the federal government, because economic activity will be at its lowest ebb. Fourthly, shared knowledge from experts in the areas of technology wouldn’t be necessary as such professionals will not be in the region. This is a minus for our people because they will be technologically inept to mine minerals in the region professionally. I am not advocating disunity and ethnocentrism but a consciousness of our diversity and the fighting for benefits for our people who will then be comfortable in believing in, and contributing to, “One Nigeria”.
A belief in Nigeria will bring initiatives that can develop the polity. Examine the Switzerland case where despite their diversity, in history, culture, economy and religion, they have been a stable country despite having powerful nations around it. We need voices that will motivate our youth to see the untapped potentials in our region bearing in mind that people-development is key to National development. Like the Swiss, the North Central people have the right to develop on a separate basis while recognizing the right of all people and loyalty to the Nigerian state. We must frown at being used as voice for a monolithic north which exists in theory but not in contemporary practice.
The time to start teaching our children about the North Central and the National dreams is now. This must be in our curriculum. Our languages are daily been eroded. Family values are not what they used to be. We need to be abreast of Nigerian politics, world politics and the power of advocacy and lobby. This will make us see the opportunities and challenges facing Nigeria’s development. We need to groom responsible citizens who must know their rights and obligations within the polity.
It is appalling to know that our minerals are mined illegally and exported out of this country without available records. Our leaders should identify stakeholders who would come and exploit these resources for the economic benefit of Nigeria.The North Central man must have an identity that is in sync with the Nigerian federation. We need visionary leaders in North Central Nigeria to wake us up from our state of inertia.