Nigeria's Glorious North; Whither Is She Bound?
There are so many areas where Africa's largest and most dynamic economy
derives its strength and one of these borders on geographic diversity. Is
Nigeria a single country? If you ask me , frankly , I will say NO in block
letters being a collection of many nations and quasi-independent
city-states fused into one geo-polity each with its own tastes,
proclivities, resources and problems.
The different ethnic nationalities that make up the Federation of Nigeria
doubtless once compete with one another with the once glorious north
losing its economic importance, dominance, and prestige to the south
resulting from self-inflicted pains and misery ravaging the region via
insurgency. Talents have since begun to flee the embattled region known
for its gentler climes to the humid south as lives are being hacked to
death by powerful dangerous powerful explosives. This forebodes nothing
but grave danger to the biggest economic power house of the supposedly
Time was when the great groundnut pyramid in the desert city of Kano
served as a huge foreign exchange earner for the country. The desert
cotton fields up north provided employment for people in the region but
today the reverse is the case as the open arable fields transmute into
battle fields killing the inhabitants of the region in their hundreds and
thousands. Poverty in Nigeria today is better blamed on this and not the
economic policies of government which has been trying to better the lots
of Nigerians in that the wealth generated in the south is not enough to
benefit the rest of the country considering the steady decline in oil
Drift from the north to south's semi-autonomous economic states has
been on-going . This had happened many times in history before now. Some
of these economic migrants were intercepted and swooped down on in the
south east sometime ago and branded as terrorist although this claim was
refuted by sympathizers who held contrary opinions and claims. The North
which used to be the nation's cultural centre , is steadily losing
that title to the south.
For quite sometime now the South – the least populous region has
rocketed ahead of the North as a high-tech centre. It has by far the
highest percentage of workers more than 50% above the national average
and the largest share of artisans in its workforce. The south owes this
steady progress to nothing but peace and the once communitarian north
must take their cue from this. Kano once the pearl of northern Nigeria
remains distinct from the rest of the country. Long a lure for migrants
from the south , it has slipped in recent times, losing not only
population to other areas but whole industries and major corporations.
Once youthful, it is experiencing among the most rapid declines of any
cosmopolitan area in the nation. Yet it retains one of Nigeria's oldest
international airports and manufacturing factories in the whole of
northern Nigeria. Kano a great cultural and religious centre achieved
this then by her strong and stable government.
But in the past, no state in Nigeria apart from Lagos and Rivers has
displayed greater economic dynamism. This is one of the reasons why the
inhabitants of the region must embrace peace.
Most remarkable of this would be the region's demographic revival. Lives
have been lost to violence and terror and expected to increase further if
the trend continues. A few armed terrorists gang must not be allowed to
put millions of lives in jeopardy. The strong pro-growth spirit in the
region, its wealth in natural resources in the northern tier, suggest
that the region will play a far more important role in the future
dethrones the south as the nation's leading economic power base ,
locus for trade and a cultural and business destination in the
sub-region. President Jonathan's pursuit of peace in the nooks and
crannies of Nigeria will bring about economic prosperity and sustainable
development and this requires our collective efforts.
The north which used to be one of the nation's industrial heartland has
haemorrhaged millions manufacturing jobs over the past 10 years of
Islamist militancy in the region bringing untold hardships to its
inhabitants . Have the natives ever pondered over this problem hand on
chin? This problem is man-made and we have no option but to join forces
with the present administration under President Jonathan to reinvent and
regenerate the embattled northern province.
Iyoha John Darlington , aka Lington Donovan , a political activist and
public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.
Email: [email protected]
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