Sambo, leadership and Northern development agenda

“It’s been a rampage today here…. Protesters have burnt down the residence of the Vice- President (Arc. Namadi Sambo) and the palace of the emir as well as raided the prison and set many prisoners free,” Mahmud Zaria, a resident, had painted an ugly scenario in the heat of orgy of violence sweeping through the Northern city of Kaduna to the press in the aftermath of the post-election disturbances in April 2011.

Therefore, the right time for Vice-President (Arc.) Mohammed Namadi Sambo and other liberal, patriotic leaders in Northern Nigeria to sit up, rub minds together, mobilise resources, invest in real human development and make helpful amends where necessary in order to rescue the future of the region from perpetual backwardness is probably now.

In addition to Kaduna, other Northern states critically affected by one form of socio-political unrests, bombings, ethno-religious wars or another ever since the advent of the current democratic experience in 1999 include Maiduguri, Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Plateau, Nassarawa, Niger, Benue and Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Aside from the internecine feud and violent attacks on innocent souls, prime property worth several millions of Naira, belonging to state security apparatus, traditional rulers, Christian and Muslim clerics and those of prominent political figures who purportedly, were favourably disposed to the re-election of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, have been destroyed in continual attacks in the region.

According to Human Rights Watch’s Researcher Eric Guttschuss, during the post-election violence alone, over 65, 000 Nigerians were displaced, 800 people killed and 350 churches burnt or destroyed across 10 states in the North.

More disturbing are the endless bomb attacks and suicide bombings, a dangerous dimension introduced into the wave of violence in the North by Boko Haram, a revolutionary Islamic sect, allegedly opposed to Western education and its concomitant way of life while advocating the introduction of full-scale Shariah legal system throughout the country.

In an attempt to further prove to the international community that the sect is perhaps, currently holding the nation in the jugular, a suicide bomber lately, rammed a vehicle through the gate into the United Nations’ (UN) Building in Abuja, destroying no less than 23 lives, while injuring several others in the process. Observers and freedom lovers worldwide have severely condemned the bomb attack, describing it as not only an assault on Nigeria as a sovereign state but humanitarian efforts and global peace and security.

Put differently, as keenly observed, if such serial attacks are not provoked by indigene-settler dichotomy, ethno-religious disaffection at the slightest provocation, then, it’s purely assumed political disgruntlement camouflaged in a religious garb, apparently orchestrated by faceless egocentric leaders to induce crises, untold hardship and maim innocent lives to register their displeasure while achieving selfish political and economic goals to the detriment of poverty-stricken millions of their kinsmen.

In the latest unbecoming violence in Plateau State, for instance, the lives of seven children of a couple were exterminated in a day! It’s of course, hard to imagine the kind of solace, or monetary compensation at most, that can assuage the pains and psychological trauma suddenly inflicted on such a couple.

And, so are many other horrendous killings and maiming of people, being perpetrated by both the indoctrinated social miscreants christened Almajiris and notorious members of the Boko Haram Islamic faction. Nigerians, especially non-indigenes, daily, are being forced to leave various certain hotbeds of hostilities in the North for their homesteads in droves, following ceaseless violent attacks on them and their businesses.

Openly acknowledging the reality of the extensive damage the twin evil of ignorance, injustice and maladministration by the supposed leaders in the region had brought on the generality of their people over time, Vice-President Sambo at a public presentation of a book, in Abuja, of recent reflected on the spate of uprising in the North and said, “We believe that the North is far behind other parts of the country in terms of development…. It would take between 10 and 30 years for the area to develop” like other parts of the country.

As a cultured professional who is in the know, one thinks it will be somewhat hard for anyone to fault the Vice-President on painting the real picture of how many of the Northern political leaders with requisite huge resources to effect meaningful socio-economic development have cornered such to the detriment of the millions of their people for decades.

Sharing this same upsetting outlook like Sambo is Prophet Isah El-Buba, a self-confessed former Islamic militant and General Overseer of Evangelical Bible Outreach Ministries International, in a recent interview with a Nigerian national daily. El-Buba simply, had said in the chat: “We are destroying the North. Economically, the North is in trouble because of the exodus of people. Investors won’t come in.”

In respect of the rationale behind the continued bombings by Boko Haram, allegedly to press home their ultimate “demand” for Shariah legal system throughout the country, again, he declared: “Shariah is about a lifestyle. While the Shariah law was being enforced in Zamfara State, some of the key politicians and leaders were drinking beer in cartons. Sometimes, I would ask them: for how long will you live with this hypocrisy? They would say: ‘Walahi ka barshi wawae’ (meaning, leave them they are foolish; they don’t know what they are doing).”

To Prophet El-Buba on how underdeveloped the North has become in recent times, “if the Northern leaders think the almighty North is still standing, they are deceiving themselves. The almighty North has cracked and crashed”, perhaps as a result of bad and purposeless leadership.

Thus, Arc. Sambo as a leader and one of the foremost lights in the current Administration in the country, courageous enough to have admitted the level of degeneration in human development index of the region, should initiate frank discussions with a broad spectrum of Northern political, religious, traditional, social and youth leaders on ways of charting a progressive way forward.

His recent pronouncement on measures to tackle the nagging social issue of the Almajiri phenomenon must be given deserved attention now. Working closely with relevant Government ministries such as Youth Development, Education, Finance and National Planning, among others, implementation of such a programme of action necessarily, should embrace increased investment fundamentally in education industry for these over nine million unlettered youth scavengers loitering the streets in the region.

The idea of building 100 schools per year in the next four years to re-orientate and empower the Almajiris is it, at least to enable Nigeria to meet one of the key objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The glaring adverse effects of these persistent violent religious and socio-political disturbances are quite substantial and overbearing to ignore by all Nigerians.

Just as Justice Emmanuel Ayoola (rtd), former Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), posited at an event lately, that some hypocritical individuals entrusted with leadership positions need to learn how to gain the implicit trust of their followers. “No nation can enjoy quality leadership if its following is pathologically distrustful of its intention,” he stated.

With the abundant human and material endowments with which Nigeria is blessed, the nation’s youth certainly deserve a promising future.

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