Archive for July, 2012

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

 

No matter how beautiful an ostrich egg is, if it doesn’t hatch, cannot be eaten, then it’s no good.

 

One fundamental thing one notices that we lack in governanceand government is the word good. Many Nigerians talk and agree that goodgovernance is the only guarantee to peace, progress, stability, free, fair andcredible elections, infact it is viewed as the only passport to delivering thedividends of democracy, just as credible practice of democracy should beanchored on good governance.

 

 

It is the bedrock for social justice, equity and fairness.For the power, the manufacturing sectors, education and largely for the nationto work, we need good governance, in order to maximise our potential, improvethe general welfare of the Nigerian people and even development ingeo-political terms, there must be good governance.

 

 

But like the late Okadigbo puts it, “asked to definegood most Nigerians will waffle and babble”.

 

 

Most of our leaders that pride themselves as operating underthe parameters of good governance cannot explain how.

 

 

What we have is a battery of contradictory description orproposition as to what good governance is, as a matter of fact the term good isdifficult to define and in the essential contexts of the Nigerian condition.

 

 

Before I go far, defining good in relation to governance hasoften been a difficult task, to categorize it for decision makers and policyexecutors, so we say in political science that good is that to which everythingtends, and in that regard indefinable and a naturalistic fallacy.

 

In the Nigerian context, our situational ethics sets thetone to the effect that we have a relative dysfunctionality, what is good inone place may be bad in the other, there must be a given situation, time andspace.

 

Under this little intellectual exercise we can say that thetalk of good governance in and for Nigeria, past, present and future is idle,not lending itself to any objective and precise analysis and this is why ourleaders take us for a ride, they promise bridges where there are no rivers andtake bald men to the saloon for a barb.

 

So until good governance is viewed as the process ofdecision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or notimplemented) we are still far off.

 

We will continue to lack good governance because despitepolitical activity under the guise of democracy we are yet to find the balance;we still operate a political economy of state robbery, rather than populardemocracy.

 

Good governance within the confines of a popular democracyshould be anchored on two things, one, a constitution suited to the specialneeds and circumstances of Nigeria as multi-dimensional ethno-socio andecono-political structure: and two a leadership suited not only to the exigentneeds of Nigeria as an unlawfully under-developed but also to the smoothoperation of the same constitution.

 

We should stop glossing and know that by and large goodgovernance require no ordinary type of leadership; tolerance; breadth ofoutlook, intellectual comprehension; hardwork; selfless devotion;statesmanship; a burning sense of mission are some of the virtues that arenecessary to make a success of leading this nation.

 

Unfortunately past and present administrations have lackedthese virtues or at best have possessed one at the expense of the other and assuch led them to groping in the dark on how to deliver good governance.

 

We have refused to cultivate a regime of leadership that hasshown a knack to develop a mental magnitude, as clear as our problems are,there seems a lack of ability in appreciating and grasping the salient detailsas well as most of the temporal and practical implications, of a givensituation or problem, and in our own case the problem is a lack of goodgovernance.

 

In my honest thinking while we keep debating on the moralsor otherwise that good governance cannot be attained or not definable I saypart of the problems will remain because it remains platitudinous rather thanobligatory on our leaders.

 

 

There is the problem of political in-direction, thus aneconomic morass in the polity, our lack of anything good is premeditated on ourinability to have an ideological notion of destiny. We have no coherent body ofthoughts; we have no heroes, nobody to look up to, good governance exists onlyin a vacuum.

 

 

Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that areenforced impartially. Full protection of human rights, particularly those ofminorities. It also means an independent judiciary and an impartial andincorruptible police force.

 

Decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a mannerthat follows rules and regulations. Information is freely available anddirectly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and theirenforcement.

 

Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholderswithin a reasonable timeframe.

 

Need of mediation of the different interests in communitiesto reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of thewhole nation and how this can be achieved.

 

It also requires a long-term perspective for sustainablehuman development and how to achieve the goals of such development. Ensuringthat all members of the society feel that they have a stake in it and do notfeel excluded from the mainstream.

 

This requires all groups, and especially the most vulnerableto have opportunities to maintain or improve their well being.

 

Processes and institutions produce results that meet theneeds of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. Italso means sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of theenvironment.

 

 

In general organizations and institutions are accountable tothose who will be affected by decisions or actions. The only minus and indeedthe major constraint is that all that I have enumerated as a recipe for goodgovernance is what we lack.

 

 

The Marako saga has shown that even Lagos state and its can paraphernalia lacksit,  as we criticize that one partysystem at the national level, the CAN remains Tinubu and family, CPC strugglesto get a hold…It is about good governance, a populace that just wants the goodof governance.

 

 

It still remains a case of a useless ostrich egg, pursuingan impeachment to what end, a dog eat dog and leave wolf. All probes and noaction naked dance, Jonathan is just a pawn in the hands of the system, a happyman but not really the problem. Witherway, find good governance or only time will tell…

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

The leper said two things, one of them being a lie; he said after he had struck his child with his palm, he also pinched him severely with his fingernails. (One fools only oneself when one claims to have done the impossible.)

I was almost at loss on where exactly to pick my admonishment on the Nigerian malady. I honestly believed that for once I will have the rare privilege of writing on something positive.

In Jos, Plateau state, apart from the death a fortnight of Senator Gyang Datong. The Berom/Fulani/STF saga was virtually on every news plate.

After few days of dance-around, “all that Fulanis should leave their homes to chase out some marauding gun men turned out ‘fake’. As one report puts it, the Fulanis went back home forcefully after refusing all the food, camp relief and negotiation etc, and another reported the STF asking them to return.

This is not about a problem in which as far as I am concerned has defied solution but about, the fraud of purpose by all concerned, which has resulted in it defying solution.

Reminds me of, the killing of Osama, I imagine Obama making announcements days before the drone attack telling villagers to leave.

Fake: prepare or make (something deceptive, or fraudulent) to fake a report showing nonexistent profits.

Like all the banks that were nationalized, banks which the House of Representatives are accusing Sanusi Lamido of nationalizing via forgery and fraudulent means. The Legislative House itself one that has in the least been deceptive in its various actions.

Fake: to conceal the defects of or make more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive: for those who have forgotten, rewind to January we were made to understand that the economy was doomed and that all our problems would be solved. The remedy was just a small painful increase and uhuru.

Alas, some 150 plus million Nigerians were deceived by a few thousands. Faking, pretending, simulating, a nation clowned by leadership and citizenry good at faking it all. We saw all the energy, the town hall meetings, the House of Representatives that met on a Sunday…all part of the fake dance of transformation.

Fakism, you wake up in Nigerian owing your kids school tuition, rent is due, utility bills past deadline, no fuel in the old battered Toyota corolla. And you are greeted ‘good morning’ by your neighbor. With a big fake smile, your response ‘fine, fine o’ and for spiritual effects you add. “We thank God”.

What don’t we fake in Nigeria, Raji Bello puts it succinctly, a ‘FAKE NATION’ –The week opened with the government warning about a fake copy of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in circulation online (Leadership, 17th July).

Then the Delta State governor warned about the existence of fake traditional rulers in his state and called for their arrest (Daily Trust, 20th July).

 

 

Next, WAEC was forced to issue a clarification that is has not yet released the May/June 2012 results following the emergence of fake results in circulation (Punch, 20th July).

Also, a fake army Colonel, Tunde Saheed was paraded by the police in Abeokuta (Punch, 20th July).

Finally, a disclaimer was published in Daily Trust of 20th July about one Aminu Adamu Kwara, a fake son of renowned Islamic scholar Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who has been going around collecting some holy cash on behalf of his “father” to mark the Ramadan season.

Just a week in the life of modern ‘fake’ Nigeria…

We fake the laughable, like making to appear otherwise than it actually is, our Under 16, 19 and 21 that are full with men that remind you of when birthdays were noted by the particular yam season, meaning, these are seriously adulterated old men who after a visit to the barber claim to have just got into Junior Secondary.

Then we fake the serious, like the bogus Indian hospital in Abuja with doctors best described as imitation, wasting away the lives of innocent Nigerians while the Nigerian Medical Dentist Council are massaging the ringworm rather than treat it.

How do we explain a nation in which its First Lady is a permanent secretary? She’s not been to work in four years, but her elevation paper says it’s due to her hard work, and all that ‘fakism’ associated with the cacophony of sycophants.

Nothing is wrong, if she were an ordinary wife to the president. But here she’s not…here she commissions a naval war ship and represents Nigeria on international level and is supposed to be subordinate to a commissioner overseeing her ministry. Who is faking who, pretentious pretence and we wonder what a fake people…

I know a former legislator that all through his term ‘serving’ his people and Nigerians spoke English with some British accent. Well that’s not the issue, the fact is though he is yet to be convicted, and may never be. He wore white, I mean he never wore anything other than white, yet, he was accused of very dark things.

A cover story (active cover-up), untrue explanation for a situation or untrue reason for an action, to hide what is really going on or is the real motive–It may involve real actions and objects related to the story to make it plausible. Ask Farouk, Femi, the Nigerian Police, SSS, top PDP hierarchy and they will tell you how $620 disappeared; now we hear the court will decide.

Check out their names Daniel, Danjuma, Abdullahi, Joshua, Jolly, Iyabo, Matthew, Vincent, Bode George, I mean no top thief by EFCC rap sheet had the name Maibarawo, Judas, Saul, or Maichikudi, Nwaoshi, Olaole. So even the names we adorn are fake names as they are far from our actions.

My president had a media chat that reminds you of when a relegated team plays well, you wonder where all its good play laid so much that it got relegated. While he promised, and gave hope in his own understanding. He did not give a damn that the lines to the villa were ‘fake’ and that in itself an indictment of his backyard.

How about the fake promises on Boko Haram or that template of we are on top of the situation while the situation deals daily with Nigerians who are below. Few really care again about the president is pained and condemns and will get those responsible…because it is fake…an empty promissory note.

While we fake knowing God more than the angels, Alhaji Inuwa Usman and Alhaji Chindo M.D. Bose, both leaders of the Taraba State chapter of the Muslim Council allegedly conspired with Reverend John Simon Jatutu, who was the Special Adviser to the State Government on Religious Matters to divert part of the funds approved to the council by the state government towards the celebration of the country’s Golden Jubilee.

The Taraba State government had in September 2010 approved N42million for the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Council for purposes of the 50th Independence celebration.

Both faiths shared the money equally with each getting N21million but the three accused persons cornered N10m from the Muslim Council share of the grant and declared only N11million to the council.

They did not fight, two Muslims, one Christian, they were not tied by God but by money. Employing the hands to make things disappear is called stealing. The Euphemistic circumlocution does not relieve a crime of its true nature. The sword cannot tell the smith’s head from others.

Let Nigerians remember we cannot pretend and fake that all is well, natural justice does not play favorites. Time will tell


By Magaji Galadima

I have been feeling numb lately. I get phone calls, I hear the news, I am active on Facebook, I chat on Blackberry, I watch pictures,I read articles and I remain unmoved. Visitors pass by and recount to me horror stories and I just stare at them . I nod and blink my eyes but when I open my mouth to speak , the words are stuck somewhere deep in my throat. I am past being shocked anymore. I have resigned myself to this state of paralysis.

Ghost cities like Maiduguri and Damaturu with its pools of blood dont affect me . An unknown corpse lying in the street is not even an object of curiosity. Smashed heads, chopped limbs, ripped tummies, burnt human bodies are nothing but sentences for me, anonymous black and white images . I give a damn that I don’t give a damn. I have saved tons of gory pictures and videos of defenseless cripples on crutches shot at point blank range in Maiduguri. I have watch first class savagery on video footage of Rukuba eid ground, Madallah bombing, Bayero University bombing, the massacres of Dogo na Hauwa, Kuru Karama and the exploits of human butcherers of Gonin-gora
I watch it all like a horror film. So detached, so close , so far away.

The earth is scorched smoky black and the water has turned into a crimson red. The picturesque scenic fields of Kurra falls and Shere hills once a picnickers delight is now a slaughter slab. Citizen extortion centers masquerading as security check points now adorn our cities.

This desolation leaves me anesthetized . My fingers are paralyzed , my thoughts rigidified at point zero, my feelings frozen . I am a robot now . A victim of this apocalyptic nihilism. I go through the regular motions only to retreat into my autistic world and stare into the void of destruction.

Yes I am in this mode now . A Frankenstein, zombie like mode .
And during the rare moments when I feel I still belong to something remotely human again, in those instances of lucidity, I may catch a tear or two frozen on my cheek. I wipe them quickly away lest the machine that I have become rusts and no longer functions. And in those moments with my plastified smile fixed to my face like a scar, in those small moments when something alive nudges me and I dare to look at it , I see that : Hope has become an oxymoron, fear a good companion, anger deep down in a well, and torrents of grief abundant enough to wash the bloody streets of Northern Nigeria.

Magaji Galadima
Kano, Nigeria

A Clue For Clueless

Posted: July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

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By Jaafar Jaafar

When writing about the web of problems that entangle Nigeria, I always find it difficult to locate the starting or finishing line. I suppose the best way is to start in an inverted pyramid style of news writing, thus from the most important to the less important. But what is not important to us in Nigeria? Stable electricity supply, security, healthcare, infrastructure or education? Pray, which is more important? I am, almost like Nigeria, entangled in a web of dilemma.

As the Central Line tube from Stratford to Notting Hill Gate in Central London fed itself into the underground tunnel, we began chatting about Nigeria. Leaning against a lustre cradle next to me was my Nigerian friend, who is resident in UK. Overwhelmed by the smooth ride, I turned to him and asked: why can’t we have this train in Nigeria? Isn’t this good for Nigeria? Is it so much beyond the reach of Nigerians like peace, quality healthcare, electricity? Is establishing these train lines also guided by UN treaty as uranium enrichment? The inquest muse in me was at play during the 30-minute ride.

Rather than appease the inquisitive sense in me, the question sparked a fireworks of questions than answers. His answers also made me understand the depth of Nigeria’s problem. “If you have this train in Nigeria,” he said, “some people will board alongside their goats and sheep to market. A trader will enter with a large poultry cage full of birds. A daddawa (a kind of local seasoning) hawker will also force her way into the train with her large bowl,” he said.

Before I interjected, he continued: “And you know wearing nappies for children is exclusively for the privileged ones in Nigeria. So cases of children excreting in the train will be rampant, and it will cause a serious inconvenience to commuters. After all, Nigeria doesn’t have the electricity to power the trains.” He went on and on.

My friend’s explanation just left me in awe, seeing clearly the sense in his reasoning. He said again: “Most of the tracks here are open at the stations. And so children need to be properly guided. How on earth can a woman in Nigeria control, say five children, she commutes with everyday to her market stall? Here, you hardly see a woman with more than two children,” he said, noting that most people in the UK are literate enough to read the signs and operate a ticketing computer/machine.

But I argued that despite these challenges, Nigerians need the trains. To own the horse, according to a witty Hausa adage, is better than to master the horse. The logic here is that when we get trains, we will ‘learn’ how to enter! We will also wrap a piece of cloth and nylon around our children. We can be educated if the state gives us the education. We can be reoriented if the state shows commitment to that. After all, we had exhibited some sense of orientation during the glorious days of War Against Indiscipline (WAI). So we can use the trains, I inferred.

Of course, establishing modern train line is an expensive project, but I believe Nigerian government can still afford the project. Thankfully, Lagos is about to blaze the trail by awarding contract for the first two lines at the estimated to cost $1.4bn. The line will be 30km long, and will run between Marina and Agbado. I salute Governor Babatunde Fashola for this but I rap the Federal Government for failure to do similar projects in our major cities, or at least the Lagos-Kano transport artery.

Less than five years ago Australia added another line in its rail transport lines. I gather that the new metro line in Perth, named Mandurah Line, cost $1.4 billion (same as Lagos) to build. The cost included a fleet of trains and other works. The line has 11 stations, two of which are underground. It took them only three years (2004-2007) to build. But since the coming of this democratic dispensation, successive governments put nothing in a pragmatic shape.

However, if Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement is the snag, let us source the money from within. We can use the confiscated Alamiseigha, Ibori and Abacha loot to finance the project in at least our capital city. If the recovered loot was eaten by some predators, let us dip into our foreign reserves. As at June 27, our foreign reserves stood at $36.829 billion. If I were to give a clue, taking $1.4 billion from the $36.829 billion is, to me, nothing. We have no basis to starve with ‘reserve’ lying outside our shores.

Since we have 36 billion dollars as reserves – and we have 36 states – the government can use the money for the projects in each state before the money fizzles away. At least Nigeria will have something different from that of the previous century. But before you accost me, let me give reasons for suggesting this pedestrian theory. When Olusegun Obasanjo left power in 2007, Nigeria’s foreign reserves were about 80 billion dollars. Obasanjo himself recently blamed his successors for squandering about 35 billion dollars from the reserves he left.

More worrisome is the fact that these reserves seem to be depleting by the day owing to the “dwindling prices of crude oil in the international market.” Only between June 1 and June 27 this year, Nigeria’s reserves dropped by 857 million dollars. This amount can build at least 45km rail line with its accompanying infrastructure in Abuja. With hindsight, we should have made hay while the sun shone. Isn’t it?

I know economists would laugh at me for this Kurmi Market economics. But the fact is that the foreign reserve is depleting by the day without building the rail line or improving our roads or healthcare system. Dear Mr economist, please tell us the best thing to do. To let the reserves deplete or use it to build infrastructure?

To say fact, even if the dollars are reserved for foreign ‘economic fashion parade’, the inner ugliness of our economic situation cannot be concealed by the foreign reserve makeup.

This is just a clue for the clueless.

Happy Birthday To A Great Icon

Nelson Mandela–Is there anything that should be said that has not been said.

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By Greg Nwadike

 

In September 2011, The High Court In Owerri Ruled That Imo Gov. Rochas Okorocha Had No Power To Dissolve The 27 Elected Council Executives In The State Which He Did Via His Statewide Broadcast On June 6th Of Same Year. Justice Njemanze of the state’s high court then averred That There Was However No Evidence That The Elected Executives Were Dissolved Thereby Prompting The Elected Officers To Go Back To Their Offices.

These chairmen were to meet Shockers when the Governor deployed Thugs, Police, Army, Civil Defence, WAI/Boys/Girls Brigade, Boys Scouts, Man-O-War; in fact everything In Uniform to restrain them from entering their Offices. He Rather Went Ahead That Same Day To Appoint Members Of his so-called Transition Committee to run the affairs of the Councils and thereafter Proceeded To The Court Of Appeal To Challenge The Judgment Of The High Court.

As peace loving and law abiding citizens, these chairmen, the councilors, P.As and S.As resisted the temptation to causing crisis in the state and equally went ahead to ask the Appeal Court to intervene and make a declaratory order.

The Appeal Court Started since That September and Foot dragged With State’s Might, Power and Resources Deployed by Okorocha to Delay Judgment. Again, On Thursday The 5th Day Of July, 2012, Hon Justice Mojeed Adekunle Owoade, Justice Court Of Appeal Upon Reading The record of Appeal herein ordered as follows:

“(i) That pursuant to Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 23(1) of the Local Government Administration Law No. 15 of 2000 (as amended), the 2nd Respondent had no competence or power, either by himself or through any person acting on his behalf to dissolve democratically elected Local Government Councils in Imo state in which the claimants are chairmen, through the 2nd Respondent’s maiden broadcast to Imo people made on 6th June, 2012.

(ii) That pursuant to Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 23(1) of the Local Government Administration Law No. 15 of 2000 (as amended), the 2nd Respondent had no competence or power to set up or constitute Transition Committees to replace the Appellants who were respectively the democratically elected chairmen of the 27 Local Government Councils in Imo state

(iii) That by virtue of the provisions of section 23(1) of the Local Government Administration Law No.15 of 2000 (as amended), the Appellants have a guaranteed tenure of office as democratically elected chairmen commencing from the date of inauguration on 9th August, 2010.

(iv) That the Appellants are still the democratically elected chairmen of their respective Local Government Councils until their tenure of office expires.

(v) That the 2nd Respondent by himself, his servants, agents, privies or whomsoever are hereby restrained from interfering with the rights and privileges of the Appellants as democratically elected chairmen of the 27 Local Government Councils of the state and or appointing persons or constituting Transition Committees to take over the offices of the Appellants or to replace them until they serve out their tenure.

(vi) There shall be costs of this suit assessed at N100, 000.00 jointly and against the Respondents in favour of the Appelants.

(vii) That there cannot be hearing of the Cross Appeal without Notice of the Cross Appeal

(viii) That the court cannot delve into the substance of the Cross Appeal as it lacks competence and jurisdiction to do so.

(ix) That the purported Cross Appeal is accordingly struck out

(x) That there is no order as to costs in the Cross Appeal”

This two-page order and 58-page judgment was read and subsequently delivered to relevant agencies including the Imo governor and his team of lawyers by the Appeal Court’s agents. And again, Gov. Okorocha deployed soldiers, police men and his thugs to take over the councils. He openly announced via a radio broadcast the dissolution of his Transition Committee and privately called on the members to remain in office.

As at the time of this post, the Imo Governor is alleged to have spent close to N1.2b of the state fund in bribing virtually everyone in position to effect compliance of the court’s order, including the police, the PDP national headquarters, the media and even some members of the judiciary. He had also jetted out for the United States leaving the state stagnant and ever confused.

While this is not intended to wipe up sympathy for any political party in particular, it is pertinent to state that for the nation to make progress, Rule of Law and respect for the courts should be paramount to the psyche of our leaders. Any leader known to be exhibiting high level of executive recklessness and brigandry is certainly not fit and sound enough to be a leader in the new Nigeria generation.

As the media has become daily awashed with propaganda on the utopian transformation by Owelle Rochas Okorocha in Imo state, some of us who truly desire positive change in the state would beg to disagree and tell the world that a huge crime is going on in Imo. Unfortunately, Imolites are currently ashamed and lack the face to cry out because they are getting what they want.

To be fair to the Governor, he has the dream to see Imo as his Eldorado but lacks the intelligence to understand that dreams are not the same thing as reality. His impracticable decisions and staccato policies in Imo since he assumed office have left Imo state worse confused as a state than ever. In Imo today, what we have is semblance of work going on but in actual fact, nothing is happening as the contractors he awarded jobs in middle of the roads had all abandoned their projects when they discovered they were simply used by the governor during his court days with the PDP. No due process, no accountability, no respect to court orders, demolition without compensation, high taxation on virtually everything, lies, deceit and propaganda, free education in theory with obnoxious taxes, N20, 000 minimum wage in theory with deduction of N11, 000; university free education fading away, Concorde Hotel and Adapalm mortgaged to Roche Consortium – his company, every road damaged and abandoned by angry unpaid contractors, Traditional Rulers on rampage over policy to elect them, Communities in chaos, etc. Who is fooling who?

While we hope that the Emperor in Imo state would one day come to his senses that running a foundation is not as same as running a state, I wish to enjoin him to please obey the court’s ruling on the elected Council executives as this continued naked dance in public would soon expose the dangling tail in between your thighs; a situation that would soil negatively your image and ambition to be the President of “Nigeria” which you are seeking. No law breaker can be President of this country!

GREG NWADIKE IS THE CORDINATOR, THE SAVE IMO GROUP (SIG)

The North Is Dying

Posted: July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Tajudeen Suleiman|amebo

The Boko Haram insurgency, along with other cases of insecurity, is rapidly killing the North and digging deeper the gully that separates the northern and southern parts of the country economically and socially

Kano, the capital city of Kano State in North-west Nigeria, wears the sobriquet of the city of commerce. It is the city that was a Mecca of sorts for traders from the Maghreb region as well as other parts of the country. Not any more. Kano has since lost the allure, the regional attraction that was the appeal to people from within and outside Nigeria. No thanks to the series of attacks on the town by members of the dreaded Boko Haram, the fundamentalist Islamic sect, which is tormenting the northern parts of the country. The immediate effect has been the mass relocation of non-indigenes and business concerns from a city hitherto regarded as one of the most peaceful places to invest in the country. Yet the loss of a bustling business climate is not the only headache that the government of the state would have to deal with. The main concern for the leadership of the state now is how to stem the tide to paralysis that is staring the state in the face.

Members of the ubiquitous National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have served notice that they will withdraw their service from the state if the authorities do not address the problem of insecurity. PENGASSAN was particularly concerned that the attack on Christians and the reprisal attacks could lead to a state of anomie, which is why they raised the alarm that the country might be going the way of the former Yugoslavia.

A statement signed by Deji Kolawole, national publicity secretary of PENGASSAN, entitled, “The Road to Yugoslavia,” warned: “We must note that an eye for an eye would only make us all blind.” That is why the two unions assume that the region was getting too hot for their members to operate in.

The threat is coming as southern merchants and businessmen living in Kano and some other parts of the North are daily relocating to Abuja or to states in the southern parts of the country. In the solid minerals and the construction sectors where a large population of youths, women and children are employed, the rising cases of kidnap of expatriates have led to an exodus of investors. In Kaduna State alone, officials of the ministry of solid minerals told the magazine that more than 20,000 people are employed in the solid minerals sector. The figure is even more in Zamfara, Kano, Nasarawa and other states under the threat of Boko Haram. The means of livelihood of such persons is now being threatened. The construction industry is also virtually dead, with many companies closing shop. Julius Berger, the construction giant, also announced the suspension of its operations in northern Nigeria due to security concerns. Wolfing Goetsch, managing director, stated this last month at the company’s annual general meeting in Abuja. The company is only trying to protect its staff. The two expatriates killed in the botched rescue exercise in Kano were working at a construction site when people believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect kidnapped them.

Prior to this development, small and medium scale businesses run by non-indigenes had been shut down while their proprietors relocated to other parts of the country. So what used to be the bubbling commercial centre of many years is shrinking to a jungle-like settlement where everybody has to look over his shoulder for safety. The tragedy is that this is having a telling effect on, not only Kano but also, other areas in the region.

The federal government identified this decline last February when Labaran Maku, the minister of information, decried the attack on the city as a dangerous dimension that is capable of crippling commerce in the region. “The attack on Kano is so significant because Kano has always been the commercial centre of western Sudan for the past 500 years. Ever before the evolution of Nigeria, Kano was the economy of the north and the economy of Niger Republic, Chad, and northern Cameroun. So when you destabilise peace in Kano you threaten the foundation of economic and social well-being of all northerners,” he explained.

The spate of insecurity, charaterised by ethnic conflicts and Boko Haram insurgency, is fast demolishing the remnants of economic and social infrastructure of the North, with the unpalatable prospect that life would become tougher and harder in the region. This was why Abubakar Sa’ad, the Sultan of Sokoto, described the attacks as coming from “evil forces,” and not Islam fighters as claimed by the group.

Sambo Dasuki, the new national security adviser, NSA, was also shocked at the devastation caused by the reign of violence unleashed on Nigerians in the North by Boko Haram. He told stakeholders at a security meeting in Jos recently that he had visited the states that had come under the attack of Boko Haram and had seen the “dangerous effects” of their attacks. He called on all to support government’s effort at checking the spread of the menace.

Before Boko Haram, life was already tough and hard enough for most Nigerians, especially those in the northern parts of the country where years of misrule and corruption had rendered most states unviable.

The living standard survey conducted by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, for the year 2010 shows that poverty has been on the increase while standard of living has continued to fall. In a report released last February, the agency found that absolute poverty in the country increased from 54.4 per cent in 2004 to 60.9 per cent in 2010 (or 99,284,512 Nigerians). The report said the North-west and North-east zones of the country recorded the highest poverty rates with 70 per cent and 69 per cent respectively in 2010 while the South-west recorded the lowest at 49.8 per cent. By NBS’s estimation, 61.2 per cent of Nigerians were living below $1 per day, and most of these people are to be found in the North. The report said poverty and inequality in income distribution has been on a steady increase in the country since 2003. But by 2011, the situation had gone worse.

What makes the situation very gloomy for the North is the extent to which the air had been fouled. The business environment performance index compiled by the African Institute for Applied Economics, AIAE, Enugu, for 2010 gave a thumb down for the North-west and North-east. The two zones came lowest in infrastructure and utilities; business development support and investments promotion; and entrepreneurship promotion, scoring below the national average of 33 per cent. The South-west and the South-South were scored highest, with Lagos coming top.

With the siege on Maiduguri and Kano, the two major centres of commerce in the North, members of the business community believe the North may be dead industrially and commercially. Bashir Borodo, a former president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, said in a recent interview that the North suffers a setback, because nobody would put his money in a place where there is insecurity. To further worsen the problem, Borodo said the commercial cities of Kano and Maiduguri rely more than 80 per cent on outsiders who come in to buy goods. Traders come from Niger, Chad and Cameroun to buy in Maiduguri while Kano is the supply centres for traders and businessmen in the North-west and other parts of the country. But with the prevailing insecurity in the North, the traders have stopped, even as many of the non-indigenes doing business there are voting with their feet.

Ahmad Rabiu, a former president of the Kano Chamber of Commerce and now chairman of the Conference of Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, disclosed that the North was losing N25 billion daily to the Boko Haram crisis. As if that is not enough, education at all levels is also suffering as a result of the prevailing security situation. In a region where school enrolment is said to be lowest in the country, schools have come under Boko Haramattacks. In a video posted on YouTube in February, the sect leaders called on its followers to destroy schools providing Western education.

A Nigerian education data survey in 2010 found that Borno State had the lowest school enrolment in the country with only 28 per cent of school age children in school. But that figure has no doubt greatly depleted as a result of the Boko Haram siege in the state. At least 15 schools have been reported burnt down in Maiduguri city alone, forcing more than 7,000 children out of school. The figure is believed to be rising daily. This is why some of the state governments have resorted to appealing to parents to keep their children in school and not be intimidated by the security situation. Officials of ministries of education have reportedly begun routine visits to schools to give motivational talks to staff, pupils and parents. Despite this, the security situation is bound to compound the educational woes of the North and further widen the gap between it and the South. While private higher institutions are rapidly springing up in the South to complement the over-stretched public institutions, only a handful has been established in the North. The National Universities Commission, NUC, said 50 private universities have been licensed to operate in the country till date. Out of this figure, fewer than 15 are established in northern Nigeria. The unrelenting activities of Boko Haram in the North have prompted apprehension about the future of northern Nigeria and that of the entire country. Apart from widening the gap between the North and the South economically and educationally, Boko Haram insurgency in the North may endanger the corporate existence of the country. Already, food production and supply of cattle to the South have been impeded as a result of the unrest. In fact, most people who were engaged in productive activities have escaped from the region to find greener pastures in the South. People like this would be forced to join the army of unemployed, except they have some resources to start a business in the South. Apart from that, they would now struggle with people in the South over the limited facilities in the area.

Northern youths believe if the current situation continues, they may have nothing to give them hope about the future. Gambo Gujungu, president of the Arewa Youth Forum, AYF, lamented in an interview with the magazine last week that the North was dying and no one has found any solution to the problem. He said while industries had stopped operating and millions of youth were still without jobs, thousands are graduating from schools without any hope for a livelihood.

He said: “If it continues like this, God forbid, the North is finished because the future is bleak. Majority of youths are unemployed and our elite and governors have collected billions of naira on our behalf without anything to show for it. Our leaders have failed us and they have misguided us. Now the crisis is moving from political to religious and this is why the situation is dangerous.”

The youths are not the only ones who think political leaders are culpable. Bello Junaid, an elder and co-ordinator of the Sokoto Historical Project, said the Boko Haram crisis was foisted on the North by “selfish northern politicians” who were not happy that power slipped from their hands. That is why Ahmedu Abubakar, a businessman and politician said in an interview first published in TELL edition of September 6, 1999, “unless there is a fundamental shift in political thinking and serious about turn by the North, the future of Nigeria cannot be guaranteed. (See box) That appears to be manifesting now, such that people like Junaid are seriously concerned that “Everything in the North is gone because our leaders lacked focus; everything the first generation leaders did have been allowed to collapse. Our leaders are selfish and self-centred. Even this Boko Haram, is it not our leaders who are behind it? Because power slipped from them, they don’t want any other person there. Our leaders are just fooling us. The leaders have become something like the HIV to us in this zone.” So what benefit has political power held by northerners for decades recorded for the region? The country has been ruled by northerners for the better part of its independence and little has been made in terms of development in the area. This accounts for the high level of poverty in the region.

Festus Okoye, a Kaduna-based legal practitioner, also said a climate of fear, anxiety and insecurity has enveloped most states in northern Nigeria, leading to the exodus of persons and complete paralysis of business activities and developmental initiatives. “In places like Borno, Yobe, Kano and Kaduna states, a substantial number of businesses have closed down or partially closed down. Some are in a period of transition and relocation. Others are not opening and not thinking of opening new outlets. This is on account of the number of deaths recorded in some of the conflicts and the mindless looting and destruction of properties of individuals in these conflicts,” he recounted.

He said the rising cases of insecurity in northern Nigeria has led to exodus of professionals in the health and education sectors, attendant devastating effect on the progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals. He warned that the situation must not be allowed to continue as it may jeopardise the future of the country, adding: “Acute poverty in any part of Nigeria is a threat to national security and stability.” He is right. States in the South are already playing host to northerners who could not endure the crisis in the North any longer. The danger is that the little economic gains recorded in the South may be eroded by the influx of people from other parts.

Okoye is supported by Akpan Ekpo, a professor of economics and director-general, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, WAIFEM, who told the magazine that investors would not come to a country where there is insecurity in any part of it. He observed that local and foreign investors were running away from the North and Nigeria because of the rising insecurity. “They don’t want to put their money in any economic activity in an area where there is no security, where terrorist acts are perpetrated without restraint, thus jeopardising the lives of their employees and their investments,” he opined, explaining further that “once that continues for a while, it means that there will be no growth in the economy of the North, and when there is no growth, it would affect their living standard in the medium and long term.” But the South would have to accommodate those who run away from the heat that is in the North.

There is no doubt that Boko Haram is a major security challenge for the North and the country now, but the North is also threatened by ethnic, communal and religious crises which have reared their heads in states like Plateau, Bauchi, Benue and Kaduna. The conflict between the Hausa-Fulani settlers and the Berom of Jos has created walls of hatred among the residents, and secret killings have become regular in many communities in the states. The latest was the tragic attack on nine Berom villages at night by suspected Fulani herdsmen. More than 50 persons, including women, were reported killed in the raid. There is widespread belief that unless the crisis in Jos is amicably resolved, groups like Boko Haram would continue to threaten the peaceful co-existence of the country.

Junaid Mohammed, a prominent northern leader, told the magazine that Boko Haram may not end if the Jos crisis does not end. “The Jos crisis is critical to the survival of this country, and if it is not resolved quickly and amicably, I don’t see any end to Boko Haram,” he stated. He may be right. When Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the recent church bombings in Jos, it said it was avenging alleged killings of the Hausa-Fulani in different parts of the state.

Now there are fears that the Jos scenario is now being re-enacted in Kaduna where the state has become more polarised along ethnic and religious lines. The conflict is also between the Hausa-Fulani who are mainly Muslims and the people of southern Kaduna who are largely Christians. The political rivalry between the two major ethnic and religious blocs in the state has become more delicate after the recent bombings of three churches in Zaria and Kaduna where scores of worshippers lost their lives.

Residents who spoke to the magazine reported secret killings by the two sides since after the church bombings, a development that has now put the state and residents on edge. The state government had to impose a 24-hour curfew on the state following a spate of reprisal killings after the church blasts. The curfew was relaxed a few days later but the heavy presence of security personnel in parts of the state is an indication that things were still far from calm.

No doubt, the challenge of resolving the ethnic conflict in Plateau and Kaduna states is as daunting as tackling Boko Haram, and no one knows that better than Sambo Dasuki, the new NSA. Less than two weeks after assuming duties, he called a stakeholders’ meeting in Jos, where he listened to the people’s explanations for the crisis and the way forward. He told the gathering, which included top religious and ethnic leaders, that the well-being of Jos was critical for the well-being of the country. He solicited their cooperation and said government would do its best to redress the situation.

But can the North and Nigeria get out of this impasse? Everyone seemed to believe that the problems are not insurmountable if those in government at state and federal levels are willing to solve the problems. The first step, many agreed, is to achieve a Boko Haram ceasefire so that governments could begin the process of reconciliation and rehabilitation.

The federal government has repeatedly said it was ready for dialogue, but could not engage in a discussion with a faceless group. Instead, the government has continued to pursue the military option, hoping to neutralise the sect. But that has not happened, and many in government, including the new NSA, seem to now believe that the way out is for government to initiate dialogue with the group. He was quoted as saying he had also obtained telephone numbers of key leaders of the sect with a view to talking with them on bringing the violence to an end. But in what appears a setback last week, Boko Haram denied the claim, accusing Dasuki of lying about the telephone numbers.

This notwithstanding, Abubakar Tsav, a retired commissioner of police and one of the critics of government’s approach to the Boko Haram crisis, told the magazine last week that “the new NSA has started well because you need to talk to people and get their confidence. Even the Fulani herdsmen who are killing people, they should be invited for dialogue. They have leaders and government should talk to them and not ignore them. They may have grievances. I believe the way the NSA is going, we will soon see the end of these crises,” he stated with a tinge of optimism.

But even if the government is able to persuade Boko Haram to cease fire, it may just be the beginning of another crisis. Isa Aremu, deputy president of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, said: “Whether in Kaduna, Jos, Kano or Maiduguri (the problems) are all crises of governance,” because governments have abandoned “development agenda and replaced it with corruption and selfish agenda.” This is why the international community, especially the United States of America, has urged the government to look at the socio-economic angle of Boko Haram. Johnnie Carson, the United States assistant secretary for African Affairs, recently stated that Nigeria “requires a security as well as a socio-economic strategy to ultimately resolve the problem of insecurity.”

But who will address the socio-economic woes of northern Nigeria? Is it the state governments or the federal government? But while the people look up to their state governments to improve their living conditions and give hope to the youths, the Northern Governors’ Forum, NGF, wants a review of the revenue sharing formula that would give more money to states in the region to address security and the problem of mass poverty. Some northern leaders have also suggested that if the federal government could create the Ministry of Niger Delta to address the problems of unemployment and environmental degradation in the region, it should also create a similar ministry to address the problem of mass poverty in the North. But the South insists that the case of the Niger Delta is different and expects northern governors to be more creative with the allocations they receive from the federation accounts.

However, even among northerners, there are northern leaders who believe most of the governors merely squander the allocations for their states. Jeremiah Useni, a retired general and former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, said the governors should use the allocations given to them well before asking for more. In a similar vein, Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress, alleged: “Only a few of them are working, the rest are just squandering the money.” Junaid has a more radical suggestion: “I swear, I don’t think we can catch up with the South ever. Unless these elders leave the scene and allow a generational shift so that we can have leaders with focus, we’re not going anywhere. If you look at the South, there is a generational shift going on.”

Additional report by Helen Eni