Rescue the north to rescue Nigeria

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the north will rise again

“Boti” is an informal name for a child who has been over-pampered to the extent that his mind is dependent on others. The parent who always obtains other people’s services for a child’s comfort damages the child’s work mentality and independent reasoning. Because he has no faith in his capacity to provide for himself, he fights to sustain the supply of other people’s services. Even when he has the potential to provide better services for himself, he desperately clings to other people’s service. This happens to all who give up their history of productivity for modern economic dependence.


Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, rebuked his fellow northern-Nigerian elites[1] for their laziness and parasitism.[2] This came in response to a ‘dependence-mentality’ of the Northern Nigeria on oil-proceeds from the Niger-delta, manifesting in the rejection of restructuring by Northern elites.[3] This rejection of restructuring continues to manifest in the elites’ insistence on a non-negotiable ‘unity’ in Nigeria.[4] However, Nigerians got confused when Atiku clarified that his idea of restructuring does not involve independence from oil money.[5] Thus, reaffirming a suspicion about the Northern elite’s reason for the disordered and non-negotiable ‘unity’ of Nigerian ethnic communities.


The present-day Northern Nigeria was created as the Northern protectorate by the British colonialists,[6] who sought raw materials and territories in Africa.[7] The area includes a vast territory of previously independent and agrarian ethnic communities, groups and tribes.[8] In 1804, the nomadic Fulani from Futa Djallon, led by Usman Dan-Fodio, proclaimed jihad against the Hausa Gobir city and conquered the majority of the Hausa city-states.[9] Usman Dan-Fodio reorganized the structure of the different ethnic communities by installing Arab-like political and religious systems. He established the centralized Sokoto caliphate and appointed Emirs (with absolute powers) to rule different parts (emirates) of the caliphate. The Fulani people eventually intermingled with the indigenous Hausas and other ethnic communities.[10]


Few decades after Dan-Fodio’s installation of Sokoto caliphate, the British colonialists invaded with superior firepower. Noticing the centralized structure and organized tax-system in the North, the British introduced an indirect-rule on the existing structure.[11] Hence, the colonialists used the existing rulers to govern these territories and collect taxes. Later, the colonialists joined other groups that were not yet conquered by the Jihad as part of the Northern protectorate.[12] Yet, the influence of the caliphate and its extended emirates was dominant in the new structure under the colonialists.


Corruption of the communal spirit

The introduction of the British capitalist-individualism in a blend of Islam and pre-Jihadi ethnic cultures became the game-changer. Communities that were once guided by principles of communal welfare, local productivity and progress was hijacked by the capitalist-individualism and Western-conformism. As in other groups, the Northern ruling-class gradually and ‘unconsciously’ conformed to the colonialists’ socio-economic purpose of mineral-exploitation in Africa. And this ruling-class are highly compensated with foreign exchange for their individualistic tendencies.


The colonialists forcefully amalgamated the Northern and southern protectorates of unconsented peoples, before giving them independence and constitution.[13] Some historians argue that colonialists twisted the Nigerian structure to favour the north[14] in order to retain the indirect-rule influence. Hence, north has several advantages in nature, politics and defence for the most part of the post-colonial Nigeria.


Blessings of the north

The north has arable lands, capable of feeding West Africa, and a large agreeable human population for building a formidable workforce. It arguably has the highest livestock, food and cash crop production in Nigeria, both for local and foreign markets. They have the highest deposit of solid minerals, capable of igniting an industrial revolution for producing relevant machines in Nigeria. The north can produce and tan enough leather for almost half of the shoes, belts, wallets, purses, jackets and sundry furniture in Nigeria and beyond. Within the 57 years of Nigeria’s independence and eventual unitary governance, the North has held power for 40 years. The North has 19/36 states and Abuja, 445/774 local governments,[15] 58/109 senators, 191/360 representatives[16] and thus, higher federal allocation. It arguably has the highest operators of oil wells in Nigeria, and most officers in major federal parastatals.[17]


Facticity of the north

Despite these advantages, it appears that the north is yet to improve its people’s average standard of living. Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state reports that over 50 million Northerners are living in abject poverty;[18] Alhaji Balarabe Musa and UNIMAID Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abubakar Njodi, are yet to agree whether the north is 40 years[19] or 500 years[20] behind the south in education. The effect of this insufficient education may be observed in the average rate of poverty, violence, child-marriage and underdevelopment. Also, the regional disparity in cut-off marks for unity schools[21] show the need for an educational revolution in the north. Yet, the people seem unable/unwilling to demand education and access to their mineral resources for producing what they need. This description may not represent all the 19 states in the northern forum, but some states, especially in the core north.


Lying in the comfort zone

After the oil boom, the ruling-class became obsessed with the easy-money coming from the sale of crude oil in the Niger-Delta. The ruling-class all over Nigeria no longer had to manage industries or productive ventures to make money for themselves and their children. They only have to occupy the positions created by the colonial masters or deriving from them, in order to sell and share resource funds. Being used to easy-money, it became difficult for them to engage in rigorous thinking for systematic organization, training and primary-production for profit. Some of the ruling-class are afraid of losing the source for sustaining a lifestyle that came with the oil boom. Hence, they ‘reluctantly’ oppose resource-control, restructuring and even proper education of their people, who ‘may’ rise to challenge them.


Political gridlock of unproductivity and economic leakage

Today, many Nigerians including people from the ruling-class decry Nigeria’s import-dependence and unproductivity in both public and private sectors. Only few Nigerians, even among the ruling-class, understand that most unproductivity and dependence come from the Land-Use-Act[22] and the Nigerian-Mineral-and-Mining-Act.[23][24][25] These documents specifically restrict Nigerian communities’ access to their mineral resources for research, productivity and economic viability.[26] Even the unconsented constitution shields government from the responsibility of educating its citizens as it states that: “government shall… provide free primary, university education and free adult literacy program… when practicable…[27] Finally, the militarized federal structure, installed by the colonialists, ensures foreign exploitation of mineral resources by restricting the true owners from their resources.


Fear of the unknown and the resistance to development

The ruling-class travel around the world and observe the beautiful effects of having an educated, collaborative and productive society. They often wish they could replicate such societies in their areas, but they are scared by several factors. The factors include distrust for/from people (elites/masses), attachment to resource-benefits, foreign interests and threats, and the difficulty in reorganizing and re-educating a huge population for collaboration and productivity. But like many other people, they seek defense-mechanisms against the prompting of their spirits for noble achievements. They decide to blame the victims, deprive them of objective education, give financial handouts, and condition their minds[28] with restrictive ideologies (Boko-Haram, Almajiri).


Losing sight of the great opportunities within

Despite its advantages in human and natural resources, the north is still denoted with a derogatory element like parasite. This derogation rises from a supposed northern fear of losing the easy oil-money,[29] demonstrated in their rejection of restructuring/resource-control. Among all mineral resources in Nigeria, crude oil attracts most attention from industrialized nations, and thus, foreign exchange. And the Nigerian ruling-class places priority on possessing crude-oil, not for its industrial value, but for consumerist foreign exchange. Hence, the northern ruling-class have neglected the industrial value of large deposits of solid minerals in their region in search of oil.[30] Many of their imported machinery and amenities can be produced by northerners when trained to use their solid minerals for production. Yet, they are neglected in pursuit of the easy-money from crude oil in the Niger-Delta. Even the southern ruling-class clamouring for resource-control have not shown any social or educational disposition for an industrial utility of their resources.[31]


Time to overcome fear with hope for a noble purpose

Progressive societies are moved by their ability to organize their citizens for utilizing what they have in producing and distributing what they need for sustenance and profit.[32] And no amount of importation of foreign infrastructure and amenities will substitute the people’s capacity to develop their society.[33] Despite their fear of losing griping influence and lifestyle, members of the ruling-class are beginning to evaluate their legacies. They see Nigeria’s volatility based on lack of agreement for development, and the temporariness of imported infrastructure and machinery. Hence, they try to install stable sources of sustenance in the north, and to get education for sustainable development.


Educate the north for social collaboration and productivity

“Since man’s mind is his basic tool of survival, his means of gaining knowledge to guide his actions – the basic condition he requires is the freedom to think and to act according to his rational judgment.”[34] Those who wish to leave good legacies for the future of the north must begin a widespread social, scientific and technological education for northern productivity. Due to Arabic influence, some northerners may choose Arabic language and Islamic studies over ‘Western/English’ education in technology, science and general humanities. Insistence on learning in English may be unimportant, if there is a better language in the north for effectively explaining the principles of social collaboration and productivity. However, since the north is an important part of Nigeria, it may be advantageous to learn the general language for communication with other Nigerians, which is English.


Reorganize and reorient the society

Before the oil-boom, the north was famed for their robust agriculture, which manifested in the cotton plantations, textiles and groundnut pyramids. They had local blacksmiths who produced arrows, spears and other metals. With technological education they can resurrect production in textile, steel, ships, motor cars, even electrical and electronic goods.


Presently, Nigerian communities are partitioned into different states, with the principle of sharing crude resource-funds from the federal government. This principle of sharing resource-fund is contrary to the principle of utilizing resources for research and industrial productivity. The former socio-cultural guidance from the traditional institutions are being overtaken by the fund-sharing influence of the post-colonial government. Hence, some of the traditional leaders who previously directed their natives to local development and productivity have settled for federal resource-fund-sharing; while the natives, who are deprived of education and access to resources[35] for real-production, stay under/unemployed.


The ruling-class truly needs to upgrade from being spenders of crude-resource-funds to coordinators of primary-to-secondary production. In order to achieve this, the communities have to organize and educate their respective natives in accordance with the available resources in their locality. Secondly, they have to retrieve access to their resources from federal confiscation, and discuss their mode of collaboration with other communities for productivity within a state or region of consented people. The different sections in Nigeria can then produce what they need and trade, and later remit percentile taxes to the federal government.


When different sections of the country take responsibility for producing what they need from their resources, they become more innovative and independent. Each section then produces what they can, according to the resources they have, for sustenance, exchange and federal tax. At this point, they will begin to invest and appreciate the education and productive capacity of their citizens. From this point and practice, Nigeria will attain the long-awaited diversification that leads to industrialization. Then different productive sections of the country can exhibit, compete and trade their technical products with one another.



He who holds another person to the ground also has to remain on the ground. Different countries continuously unveil state of the art technology in communication, computing, construction, health, agriculture, aviation and other sectors using their human and mineral resources. On the contrary, Nigeria’s Northern and Southern elites struggle to retain a structure for selling and sharing funds from crude resources. Some Nigerians are willing to learn and utilize their mineral resources for production, but the resources are militarily confiscated by the resource-fund-sharing federal government. Nigerians do not need financial handouts and amenities to develop, they need practical education and access to resources to demonstrate their productivity.


Because of its political, human and solid-mineral advantage, the development of Nigeria is highly dependent on the north. They only have to look beyond the consumerism in finding and auctioning crude resources, to the sustainability of educating and organizing their society for modern productivity. They only have to look beyond the fixation of accumulated foreign exchange from oil in the Niger-Delta. They only have to train their people to utilize their human and solid-mineral resources for producing the machineries needed in Nigeria. This will make other sections in Nigeria to find, develop and utilize their own resources for production and tax-contribution to the federation.


[1] Atiku Abubakar, Only elites opposing restructuring lazy, not northerners” in Blueprint retrieved 10-10-2017

[2] Atiku Abubakar, “Laziness responsible for North’s opposition to restructuring” in The Sun 25-09-2017 retrieved 10-10-2017

[3] Junaid Mohammed, “Atiku a bloody nonentity, thinks he can rule Nigeria by insulting the North” in DailyPost 25-09-2017

[4] Aminu Tambuwal, “Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable, Tambuwal says: rejects restructuring” in Premium Times 14-09-2016. retrieved 10-10-2017

[5] Atiku Abubakar, “My restructuring does not include a change in current sharing of oil money” in Naijadailyfeed 15-10-2017 retrieved 9-11-2017

[6] Ahmadu Kurfi and Oyelade Bello, Know Your Country And Beyond (Ibadan: Safari Books, 2014) p52-53

[7] Oladele Fadeiye, European conquest and African resistance (Lagos: Murfat publication, 2011) p28-p29

[8] Ahmadu Kurfi, Oyelade Bello, op cit. p53

[9] retrieved 9-11-2017

[10] Ibid

[11] C. C. Dibie, Essential Government (Lagos: Tonad Publishers, 2012), p.137

[12] Cf. Ahamdu Kurfi, Oyelade Bello, op cit. p53

[13] S. O. Oyedele, “Federalism in Nigeria” in Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria, edited by Hassan A. Saliu (Ilorin: T. A. Olayeri publishers, 1999) p57

[14] Barry Mason, “Britain rigged election before Nigerian independence” in World Socialist Website retrieved 15th December 2017

[15] Chidi P Eze, “Sun Set in Northern Nigeria” retrieved 5th January, 2018

[16] Wikipedia “House of Representatives (Nigeria)” – retrieved 5th January, 2018

[17] Cf. Leke Baiyewu, “Buhari’s appointments: A tilt towards the North” in Punch July 10, 2016

[18] Kashim Shettima, “Over 50m Northerners living in poverty” in Vanguard by Joseph Erunke on 11-10-2017

[19] Balarabe Musa, The North is 40 years behind the south in education,

[20] Abubakar Njodi, The North-East is 500 years behind the south in education, In Guardian news,

[21] Iyabo Lawal, “Disparity in unity schools’ cut-off marks as an albatross” in Guardian News March 9, 2017

[22] 29th March 1978, Land use act. P7 “… to vest all land comprised in the territory of each state (except land vested in the federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the state and to organization for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes”.

[23] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2 “… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”  “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.”  “The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”

[24] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[25] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[26] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Are Nigerian Youths truly unemployable?” In Restartnaija July 25, 2017 retrieved January 10, 2018

[27] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2011 as amended, Section 18, subsection 3, paragraphs i, ii, iii

[28] Preference of religious education over arts, humanities, science and technology for a productive living

[29] Atiku Abubakar, “My restructuring does not include a change in current sharing of oil money” in Naijadailyfeed 15-10-2017 retrieved 9-11-2017

[30] Rasheed Bisiriyu, “Again, Buhari orders NNPC to search for oil in the North” In Punch, August 17, 2016  retrieved 10-1-2018

[31] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Apocalypse of an ill-planned restructuring” In Restartnaija, November 2, 2017 retrieved 10-1-2018

[32] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Role of Military in Nigeria: oppression or protection” in Restartnaija, August 22, 2017 retrieved 10-1-2018

[33] Femi Ogbimi, Solution to mass unemployment in Nigeria (Ile-Ife: OAU Press, 2007) p.26

[34] Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government, retrieved 9-11-2017

[35] Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act, op cit.