BY ADEMOLA YAYA
INSECURITY is a state of uncertainty about oneself, lack of confidence and a state of being open to danger for lack of protection, which has become a daily phenomenon in Nigeria. If it is not marauding of farmlands by herdsmen, it will be mass kidnapping of school pupils for ransom. If it is not news of gunmen invasion, rape, killings and kidnap, it will be mass killings of farmers on their farms and sacking of communities by Boko Haram terrorists.
This state of lawlessness, fear and insecurity where no one seems to be in charge to guarantee security of lives and property of the citizenry has been brewing for quite some time, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. Whereas criminality is nationwide and is ethnic-blind, it is not strange that the current insecurity, extremism and terror should eventually germinate in the North and spread nationwide; decades of cruel neglect of the masses, a perplexing level of irresponsibility and nonchalance by its core elites are responsible. This is acknowledged by the most progressive section of the Northern elites themselves, and they have been drumming the inevitable consequences to the dysfunctional ears and hearts of their colleagues for years, in vain.
In a large part of Northern Nigeria, the ruling elites refused to educate their wards who eventually turned Almajiri in thousands. They did not provide them decent working and living conditions to better their future. They refused to provide them opportunities to demonstrate their capacities. They refused to address gender discrimination, household poverty, child labour, child marriage, drug addiction, homelessness, hopelessness and prostitution which became virulent, grooming frustration and bottled anger. It was like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Unlike their counterparts in the South who, by and large, commit at least to universal basic education, as some form of individual tool to conquer extreme poverty, the Northern ruling elites, for half a century, only took care of their own children and left the children of the majority poor to fend for themselves. All these are open secrets!
For instance, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. Out-of-School Children is defined by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as those within primary school age but either never enrolled or dropped out of primary school education. North-East is domicile to 60% of Nigeria’s 13.5 million out of school children. In 2019, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, stated that females constituted 75% of the 13.5 million out-of-school children with more worrisome case in the Northern Nigeria. Statistics of leading states with highest out-of-school girls is terrifying with Sokoto, Katsina, Niger, Taraba and Kano having 270,586; 267,132; 257,165; 242,100 and 240,766 respectively. If Borno is the incubating centre, these other states constitute the networking and service centres of Boko Haram, banditry and other associated criminalities that have engulfed the entire country today.
Interestingly, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, a member of Dabo Royal Family of Kano and the Emir of Kano (2014-2020) from Fulani Sullubawa clan has always criticised the level of poverty in the Northern Nigeria, sounding warnings that the Northern ruling elites would destroy themselves if they did not change their parasitic style. He affirmed that 87% of poverty in Nigeria was in the region as its ruling elites failed to tackle social problems of Almajiri brought about by millions of children out of school. He asserted that for so long, they have relied on quota system without developing a make-up which makes terrorism and other criminalities attractive. His warnings didn’t start only when he was Emir, he had begun the crusade even when he was CBN Governor. What did he get for these warnings? He was dethroned on 9/3/2020 and banished from the State by Abdullahi Ganduje, a “Progressive Governor” of Kano State.
Let us get it clear. With some very few exceptions, the entire Nigeria ruling elites are parasitic, greedy and have always substituted personal interest to national interest. Unlike their counterparts in the North however, the Southern ruling elites are not as reckless in refusing to provide basic education and infrastructure for their people. Right from the inception, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had instituted free education in the South-West while power elites in the East made similar arrangements and promoted entrepreneurship and development of trading skills.
Apart from government’s role and responsibility to providing education, private citizens and elites in other areas of life, since the time of Tai Solarin, have always supported government efforts to providing access to education and basic skills development, especially to the children of the poor and there are numerous examples to justify this assertion till date. To mention but a few in recent times, Orangun of Oke-Ila in the State of Osun, Oba Adedokun Abolarin via a school established by Orangun Abolarin Aroyinkeke Foundation (OAAF), gives free education, hostel and food to indigent children of natives and non-natives of Oke-Ila. The town is populated by about 10,000 people who are mostly agrarian. Rochas Okorocha Foundation, a non-governmental, non-profit and charitable organisation established in 1998 has provided free and qualitative education to over 20,000 students since inception till date, reaching out and touching lives of under-privileged. These are just two of hundreds of thousands scholarship awards for best students and sons and daughters of the indigents apart from state governments’ efforts in providing affordable education for the children.
Although, their best is not enough, the Southern elites see education as passport to bright future. For the very few children who do not go to school for other reasons, they engage them in skill training and acquisition in diverse areas of human endeavour like mechanical engineering, bricklaying, tiling, auto-electrical, painting, plumbing, trading, etc which make them useful to themselves and the society after graduation and becoming professional artisans.
The most worrisome aspect now is that there are emerging facts that powerful people, politicians and businessmen in the North are conspiring and supporting bandits especially in abduction of school children en masse for ransom. This criminality which has become a big business has spread to every nook and cranny of Nigeria. It has overwhelmed security apparatuses and rendered government incapacitated in its main responsibility to the people – protection of lives and property. This state of insecurity is a harvest of decades of irresponsible leadership by power elites in Nigeria, of which their Northern colleagues are particularly culpable.
Of Nigeria’s over 62 years of Independent government, military or civil rule, Northern power elites have run government for more than 42 years and still counting! The lust for power without corresponding sense of responsibility is not only inordinate but painfully disturbing. There is an urgent need to commit to the common people of the North, sincerely and sustainably, and their elites must lead from the front. Unless the root cause is gradually addressed as a part of the holistic solution, merely throwing military-might at the problem will yield only little, deceptive reprieve and time is not on our side.