Arewa: A case of greedy elders, fractured elite




Few years ago, precisely in 1999, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (present Emir of Kano), wrote a typical and very interesting piece on the ‘Yoruba syllabus of error’ the thesis of Sanusi’s article was centred on the continued self isolation of the Yoruba race in matters of national politics. They are always standing on their own. Every Nigerian was playing his own game and not them playing any other’. This position I strongly believe has changed a bit even now that they are seen to be major players in the democratic process and senior stakeholders in major political parties.

What interested me in Sanusi’s thesis was the fact that despite the apparent rigidity and lack of compromise which characterised Yoruba politics in Nigeria, one factor which stands to their advantage always is the dogma of solidarity. No other Nigerian group is as solid when it comes to matters of national dimension, not even the minority ethnic groups that are fewer in number and whose unity is expected not to be hindered by the question of number. Whether the Yoruba race’s irredentism tendencies pose any danger or threat to the existence and survival of the Nigerian project is a different ball game all together. As crude as their methodologies remain, their solidarity as an ethnic race under the direction of its elite corps and sometimes carpenters (as in the case of ‘Chief Ganiu Adams, Are Ona Kakanfo), has remained a source of inspiration to the younger Yoruba elements and the intelligentsia. They have role models no matter the nature of the role those models play. The north as a whole does not have such models that have the capacity of championing the course of the people and interest if there is anything called as such. Those expected to be role models have suddenly transformed into ethno-religious jingoists sponsoring violence and ethno-religious upheavals for myopic interest.

The earlier elders of the north saw the need to massively embrace education despite the Christian scare which kept the dominant Muslim intelligentsia skeptical of the motives behind the new educational system that had the capacity to tilt their faith from the Islamic horizon which had been in the area for hundreds of years before the advent of colonialism which saw the propagation of the Christian faith as either complimentary or composite.

The elders had done so well within a short period of time to an extent that the best bureaucracy amongst all British colonial territories was found in northern Nigeria.

Education, health services and development of infrastructures became the attention of government. The priority of those elders was service and not being served. They did not consider the looting of public treasuries as a luxury to safe guard the future of their children. They emphasized on community and societal values. They were role models as they had been responsible for the advancement of the northern society at that time.

The elders and leaders of today were the children of those days, who instead of plundering of the resources or better put, took selfless path of educating the children of the poor en mass, who have by that virtue taken over the reigns of leadership and are busy siphoning all the national and collective resources of the people to themselves and for the benefits of their immediate families and cronies. They have woefully failed to do unto others what others had done unto them.

The result of which is the total collapse of the educational system, health services, decay of infrastructure, total lack of concern for the environment and aggressive and cut throat competition in the struggle and pursuit of political power, resulting in thuggery, sponsored ethnic and religious conflicts and confrontation among numerous other national calamities. They have run down the school system while their children school in foreign land. The elders are so unconcerned that they have lost sight of the fact that their children will have to come back home no matter how long it takes, otherwise, despite the level of economic prosperity, they shall continue to remain second class citizens in other people’s lands.

Whenever they come home they shall be faced with the ugly realities of the actions of their parents. They shall be confronted by the visible hunger and desperation suffered by their relations and other innocent citizens. They shall have no peace due to the poor foresights of their parents, thieving leaders and greedy elders. The society continues in that vicious circle with no end in sight.

The northern elder, leader and elite of today stand as pariahs in their immediate communities and in the comity of Nigerian elders, leaders and elites. They have accumulated so much public money that they are the most uncomfortable but only pretending. Two houses away in the neighborhood, there is hunger, children can’t go to school because their parents cannot afford paying the fees. Children go to bed with tears because they had no food. Over 95 percent of the beggars on the streets are northerners. Over 95 percent of northerners are unemployed or underemployed. Yet, the few elite with the opportunity to proffer solution to the problems pretend to be comfortable and not ashamed of the sad scenario. It is easier to spark religious or ethnic riots in the north than in any part of the country. the volume of school dropouts is more in the north, the level of unemployment and poverty is more in the north. Younger elements are left on their own, with no role models. They are simply reduced to the level of negative tools for deadly jobs.

Unlike the first premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello Rabah, who was a passionate leader that the failures love eulogising for cheap socio-political and economic, benefits. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa,  Malam Yusuf Aminu Kano, Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, Raji Abdallah, Gambo Sawaba, Patrick Dokotri, Micheal Audu Buba, Salihu Gonto just to mention a few, the elders and leaders of today have failed in their mission of leadership and have since left the teeming youth, especially without history. History of a decent evolution, and, I am sure, they are ashamed and regretting their acts of malfeasance and corruption.

The only chance left for now within the north, is for an effective revolution of pushing away the crop of elders in circulation. The people must realize that those people called elders have since been on their own. They have no ‘us’ in their agenda unless in need of egocentric support from the wretched on earth.

They have stolen and stashed all the money in their personal vaults and foreign accounts, we are left with nothing. They grow fat with protruding bellies while we grow lean and miserable. This is not the case with elders in other regions. We see how they are responsive to their communities. We see their roles in education, health and even physical infrastructure. In our case, it is a sad situation with only a bloodless revolution as solution.

Umar can be contacted at 07033873327

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