21st March, 2011
It is a rare happening to see a child destroy his fatherâ€™s house simply because he has misunderstanding with a brother or one of his siblings, knowing that the house is where he lays his head when he wants to rest.
As a good student of history, I have learnt of despotic rulers killing their subjects, fathers killing sons, brothers killing brothers, even a community destroying its own means of livelihood.
But with the recent spate of bombings going on in the north, it seems like history is beginning to record a first of its kind and what an irony that it is the north that was highly respected and held in high esteem by the south that has suddenly become the weeping child.
What has happened to the hard work put in place by the founding fathers of the once respected Northern Region of Nigeria? If the late Premier of the Northern Region Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory were to be alive today, would he be proud that he worked hard to unite the region only for some greedy, blood thirsty and power seeking gluttons to wake up one morning to tear it apart?
Or would he be happy to see that the north has become a laughing stock that cannot even co-ordinate its affairs without inputs from lords that dictate terms from another region? It is really disheartening and disgusting at the same time and really unfortunate to see the so-called leaders of the present north, not knowing the next line of action, but to resort to using unscrupulous elements to bomb their own homes and areas, gradually wiping out their own heritage.
What has really happened? Is there really a leader in the north today? I doubt if there is one leader in the north because what really seems to exist are tribal leaders, religious leaders and community political champions.
These leaders are of such that cannot reach out to anyone that does not belong to either their religion or tribe. They only engage in rhetoric that are coated with sentiments, knowing that since they cannot carry everyone along, at least they should carry some along, based on the sentimental disposition of their would be followers.
Such leaders are those that move in the dark to seduce those of intentional like minds into jeopardising the fragile peace that exists in the north. They not only penetrate the minds of those they indulge for such ugly acts with vain words that they carefully conceive from their evil minds, they go as for as poisoning their minds against their own brothers, with whom they have been achieving great political goals together, since the entity called Nigeria came into existence.
And then I wonder what hey think they can gain from such, when they should be fully aware that politics or democracy is a game of numbers and there is the need to ensure that everyone, devoid of tribe or religion is carried along if a candidate were to make any impact from the results of the polls.
So why resort to bombing your own house when what you should actually be doing is correcting the mistakes of the past? If the north is really one, then what stops someone who is a Christian from the north from getting support from Muslims from the region?
Is the north meant for only Muslims?Â I doubt much because from the little travels that I have done, have realised that the north comprises a good number of Christians, just at the Muslims have the majority.
But just like the proverb, one hand washes another so that both can be clean, the floor should be thrown open and the entire region should join hands in supporting that person, knowing he or she is one of its own. But when the muslims say that they cannot have a Christian emerge from the polls, then I wonder how they expect the Christens to do same, and that is the genesis of the north selling its birth right to the south.
Even though it is quite unfortunate that the North lost President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua to the cold hands of death and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerai saw the emergence of his deputy, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as his replacement, if the north were to be united, it would not have been a problem for a northerner to be victorious at the polls.
The north would have simply abandoned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and elected a candidate of its choice under the platform of another party, after PDP failed to maintain its constitution or arrangement on zoning. The north would then capitalise on that and remain in power till thy kingdom come, citing the controversial primaries that saw Jonathan emerge as the flag bearer of the PDP as an apparent example.
But no, religious fanatics that claim to be politicians took the decision in bad faith and subsequently made the wrong choice, that should have instead of uniting the north, ended up uniting the religious inclination of the region.
And since the region is not a mono religious of mono tribal entity, the action further divided the people to their own peril, breaking the strands that united the people. Instead of bonding the entire people and making the unity grow into strong roots, the strands were further weakened. Is this the north that was envisaged by Sir Ahmadu Bello? Never! It canâ€™t be because the man had a foresight and the only things that unite the north today were fully thought out by him. So why should some ill-mannered, self-acclaimed messiah come along and tear it all apart?
Sir Ahmadu Bello had a vision to put the north on the path of development, but where lies his visions today? He knew the importance of using the media as a tool for unity and funded the New Nigerian Newspapers, but what are his successors under the name of the Northern Governors Forum doing today? They cannot even sustain the publication and use if to unite the region as well as put it on the path of growth.
There is a proverb that says two heads are better than one, but in this case, the 19 heads have failed to wake up to their responsibilities. It means there is a big problem and not just that, there are bound to be bigger problems if they fail to put their house in order. The governors have allowed sentiments to override their sense of conscience and good judgment as they have let their emotions becloud their reasoning, if not, Kaduna, the capital of the northern region has always been the venue of the meeting for the governors, but as soon as Governor Patrick Yakowa took over leadership of the state after his boss Vice President Namadi Sambo was elevated, the meeting has had no home.
And just as the leaders keep moving the venue of the meeting from one place to another, that is how the region will remain unstable. Come to think of it, simply because a Christian is the governor of a state, the majority of the northern governors who are Muslims see it as a taboo to come and meet in Kaduna as it were.
What impression are they trying to create? Is Kadunaâ€™s place in the history of the north soon to be forgotten simply because a Christian becomes the governor? Is a Christian then not a northerner? And if the answer to my last question is yes, then there is a big problem.
And if yet all the bombings and bickering continue, then who would lose at the end of the day? Should we go on hating each other simply because we are not of the same religion? The questions that probe my mind on this burning issue are endless.
I recall vividly, just at the dawn of the new millennium, in the year 2000 to be precise, then I was resident in Lagos and can still remember how the dreaded Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) took the law into their hands and were killing and maiming innocent Nigerians, simply because they were from the north. I was an innocent victim of that onslaught on three different occasions. The first was when I boarded a commuter bus popularly known as molue from Idumota to Maryland. I was almost thrown out of the moving vehicle by OPC, simply because I am from the north.
The second incident was around Pen Cinema in Agege where the OPC harassed me but luckily for me, I could communicate in Yoruba language and that was Godâ€™s saving grace for me.
Lastly, I was at Onigbongbo market in Maryland shopping when they used their ritual whip to flog me after one of them had screamed out â€˜Omo Hausa niâ€™, meaning, he is Hausa, before I retorted in Yoruba that I am not Hausa.
This also reminds me of my experience in Enugu a few years later in 2004. I had visited Cosmo FM at Ebeano Estate and after the business of the day, I was relaxing over some refreshment when a middle aged man sitting beside me started a conversation. To his disappointment, I was from Benue State which shares boundary with Enugu but he was quick to say â€œI did not know you are from the north so you are Hausa.â€ I tried to let him know that though I am from the north, there are several ethnic groups. He insisted and mocked me that the north was underdeveloped.
The general understanding in that area is that if you are from the north, you are Hausa and as such, you get different treatment. Being from the north and not being from the core north can be very discouraging in the present scheme of things in Nigeria. Yes, it is a fact that I am a northerner, but again, I am a northerner that has suffered for the north in the south which mainly comprises Christians, and is being treated like a second class citizen in the north which is predominantly Muslim. This yet makes me to ponder on another question. Where can I really fit in and have a sense of belonging?
The south sees me as a northerner because of the geographic location of my state and the north sees me as a something else because of my religion. But the fact remains that I love the north as a region and Nigeria as my country and that yet makes me to wonder what the end result of all these will be, if something is not done to address the issues that plague Nigeria as an entity.
Though I would never want this country to disintegrate, from happenings that we are all witnesses to, it is really difficult to distance oneself from such possibilities, seeing the dimension with which we are going.
We want to use our own hands to tear down our buildings by detonating explosives in the only thing the north can boast of for now, if the country ends up disintegrating.
And by my calculations, even if the breaking up were to take place, Nigeria might split up into at least than eight countries. This is because those that are not being carried along in the present scheme of things will prefer to associate with those that have similar interests or beliefs with them, which will give room for several agitations.
So the north will end up producing probably two or three different countries. But the fact remains that it is not too late to redeem our dear north from this madness which is naturally affecting the entire country. The north can have one voice that when it sneezes, the entire country shivers, just like it was in the past.
â€¢Jacob Onjewu DicksonÂ writes from Lagos