Wednesday 20 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review X - The North

The divides are not there

The Presidential Elections this year afforded us the opportunity to revisit the accepted narratives about Nigeria to see if they still fetch true or they are norms that have been perpetrated without question and analysis.

The situation was such that the abuse of numbers allowed the perpetuation of the narrative and the labels that continually divide Nigeria along regional or religious fault lines.

However, the more one looks at the voting patterns the more it appears these defaults are ready for the scrapheap and a reeducation is needed to understand the complexities of our society rather than subscribe to the simplistic rhetoric that gets exploited for ulterior motives and gains by unscrupulous politicians, clerics and power brokers pretending to be community leaders.

One party does unite

Having performed an analysis of the results [1] of the Presidential elections, one is at pains to continually accept this notion of a North-South divide nor is the oft-touted Muslim dominated North as true as we are made to believe else how would there be clashes between religionists.

Beyond buttressing the case for a united Nigeria what seems to have been lost in the accepted narrative is an understanding of the dynamics of Northern Nigeria.

The real divisions

The BBC in a piece about a divided Nigeria [2] some 2 weeks ago laid out a number of geo-political and socio-economic maps of Nigeria highlighting the divisions in Nigeria. The wealth [Graphic], health [Graphic] and literacy [Graphic] maps are what seem to define the real divisions in Nigeria.

The way it appears, the North has been left behind and successive leaderships in the North have failed to rise to the aspirations of the people as a feudal system appears to thrive making the people a ready mob in the hands of unscrupulous power brokers.

Where the North lags

This view is gains more credence as Salisu Suleiman writes in his blog titled Contextualizing protests in Northern Nigeria [3] where he notes that the post-election violence did target the so-called leaders of the North and I quote, “the political, military and business elite as well the traditional institutions that have held the region back and truncated any attempt to educate the people and free them from the yolk of illiteracy and poverty.”

One can find no greater indictment of leaders in that region who have done little for their people locally and then seek to bring that thinking to the national front.

By the time Suleiman lists the issues of education, healthcare, agriculture, corruption and self-serving leadership you begin to get a good picture of why the North appears to be a powder-keg of discontent ready to go off spontaneously when the possible promise of better opportunity appears to be snuffed out.

The hopes of the North dashed?

Tatalo Alamu who writes for The Nation newspaper on Sundays, in a piece that was written on the 3rd of April, 2011, titled The messiah and the militia [4], Tatalo frames his discourse in almost Apocalyptic prose starting with the capturing the feel of a typical CPC political rally with Muhammadu Buhari as the flag-bearer, “This is not an exultant crowd waiting for a political emancipator. This is a traumatized mob waiting for a messiah.

The summary is Buhari appears to represent for these people the escape required by his people from the clutches of leaders before who never addressed the issues that kept them far behind in the Nigeria stakes for progress and development.

His inability to assume power would first be expressed in disappointment, then despair and everything else that follows – there was something quite prophetic about that piece because 15 days on, the hopes were dashed, the numbers did not add up and the Buhari or the Messiah they had hoped will come to their deliverance could not ascend the throne of the kingdom.

What the North needs now

There is no doubt that Northern Nigeria needs visionary leadership unhindered by the smokescreens of religious piety masquerading as a society at ease with itself. They need a new political class of selfless people ready to serve their communities and raise all the standards of living that would give Nigeria the better tale of a nation united in purpose and progress.

The question is whether the Federal Government can spearhead change and local governments would be less the vehicles of promoting serfdom and feudalism in a place that is deserving of a lot more than it has been saddled with for decades.

It is to the shame of leaders of the North that we find ourselves writing about these issues today.


[1] Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IX - Analysing the Presidential Results

[2] BBC News - Nigeria: A nation divided

[3] Suleiman's Blog: Contextualizing protests in Northern Nigeria

[4] The Nation - The messiah and the militia in Google cache or as Google Docs archive

Twitter tweet - Northern #NigeriaDecides narrative - The Votes the Messiah the leaders

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