The sustained call for convening sovereign national conference SNC, by a growing number of particularly southern Nigerian elites seems to have created a crack on the hitherto uncompromising opposition from their northern Nigerian counterparts. This is quite evident in the statement/warning issued by The Arewa Elders Forum which clearly maintains that “The North shall no longer shy away from any dialogue or conference to negotiate the future of a united Nigeria, or even a divided Nigeria if that is the wish of its various component parts.”
This statement/warning effectively implies northern Nigeria’s readiness to renegotiate the terms of Nigeria’s corporate existence with the other components of the federation, as it also confirms its readiness to go on its own if need be.
Interestingly enough, I have never heard such a “bold” statement from an influential northern elite’s forum before. Ordinarily one would expect that, by issuing such statement, the north has finally found a panacea to all its predicaments, hence does not necessarily need Nigeria anymore in order to survive or thrive. After all, a Hausa proverb says “In kaji makaho yace ayi wasan jifa, to dutse ya taka” which means “whenever a blind dares to engage you in stone-pelting he must have stepped on one.
This is particularly interesting considering its introductory assertion maintaining that, the decision was taken upon the receipt of what it called “harmonized reports of its committees on the state of insecurity and socio-political issues in Northern Nigeria”, which presumably means it was arrived upon after due consultation and deliberation.
Though, the statement may not necessarily represent the voice of the north, it nonetheless represents a considerable voice in view of the calibre of the 194 eminent elders who issued it. Even though, I admit that, despite being a northerner; a core northerner for that matter, I don’t precisely know which forum, amongst the many forums claiming to be championing the northern interests, exactly represents the voice of the north.
Anyway, notwithstanding whether northern Nigeria would be better off or not under a divided Nigeria, I would love to know the yardsticks used by such committees whose harmonized reports informed the decision taken by the elders. This is even though I should have firstly questioned the moral right of the majority of the forum members in issuing such statement in the name of the north, in the first place, in view of their previous roles in creating and sustaining the very predicament that has metamorphosed into such a terrible mess and indeed warns of an overwhelming doom, if care is not taken.
Likewise, I doubt the competence and/or the objectivity of the so-called committees’ members whose reports were harmonized by the elders to issue such statement. They hardly if at all employed scientific methods to generate necessary socio-economic figures and other relevant political, demographic and territorial factors while preparing their reports.
I am sure if they had followed that method properly, they would have concluded that, the region is (notwithstanding its potentials) presently too poor economically to sustain itself, too disharmonious socially to coexist peacefully, too divergent politically to adopt a generally acceptable political framework, yet ironically too interwoven territorially to allow for definite territorial demarcation.
Also, I really wonder if they had considered the simple fact that, without the monthly allocations for the federal government, even Kano state which is probably the richest state in the region, can’t presently generate sufficient revenue to cover even half of its recurrent expenditure, let alone deliver any developmental project. This is even though its expenditure does not include funding of security agencies, which are obviously under the federal government.
This by implication means that, under the current circumstances, should Nigeria disintegrate, Kano would not only grind to a halt, but would probably slide into chaos, and it is obvious the same scenario applies to the entire region indeed.
It is therefore quite obvious that, those northern elders were motivated by sheer emotion borne out of frustration over their southern counterparts’ persistent accusation against them that they are mere parasites feeding off the sweat of others. And though in as much as such accusation is indeed frustrating, it should not elicit such miscalculated reaction, which will definitely affect millions of people.
Having said that, I am not necessarily advocating for the continuation of the status-quo under any circumstances, instead I simply insist that, such a statement is too important to be adopted that way, because after all its implication is capable of affecting the strategic interests of the whole region.
I therefore implore our northern elders to be realistic when addressing an issue as important as renegotiating Nigeria’s terms of corporate existence under the current circumstances. First of all, let them provide a tangible fallback in the region i.e. instantly exploitable resources and other sustainable developmental potentials capable of filling up the economic vacuum to be inevitably created when the country is divided.
This is particularly important considering the fact that, they would be the least affected people (if ever they would be affected) in the aftermath of the country’s premature disintegration, because they have the necessary exposure and means to seek and secure asylum for themselves and their immediate families in any country of their wish, thereby abandoning their people to their fate.
I would love to believe that, such statement/warning was an April fool joke, which they might have forgotten to release earlier in the month. Because after all, the whole issue of convening sovereign national conference has always been exploited by southern Nigerian elites to blackmail their northern Nigerian counterparts hence achieve their individual interests and indeed score cheap political goals, as I wrote in this column some weeks ago under the title of “The Hypocrisy in calls for Sovereign National Conference” (Daily Trust, Friday, February 24, 2012).
The reality is that, north is presently not ready for renegotiating Nigeria’s terms of corporate existence. As a matter of fact, it was ironically better off hence readier five decades ago than now. Incidentally, if the northern elites had maintained and developed Sardauna’s initiatives and projects e.g. the ultra ambitious, multifaceted sustainable developmental project of Northern Nigerian Development Corporation NNDC, the region would have by now been perhaps as industrial as South Korea, as peaceful as Singapore and as urban developed as Dubai.
Written by Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isah on Daiy Trust