The Governor of the Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido has just clarified the statement he made which was reported to be an endorsement of the Boko Haram attacks. But his clarification fell short of addressing the issue at stake. Is the North really marginalized? It did not -and will not- put to rest that hollow political mantra which the prince from Kano has echoed and re-echoed over the years.
Sanusi and some of the self acclaimed progressives from the North often attribute the problems that plague the region to its marginalization. And this position is bound to generate a lot of sympathy from Northerners and can become a rallying point of groups opposed to the Federal Government particularly now a president from the South is in power.
The ambiguous claim of marginalization can seriously undermine the relations between Northerners and their Southern counterparts living in their midst, and play into the hands of extremist groups, and ethno religious bigots like Boko Haram.
Anytime this issue of marginalization is raised by the likes of Sanusi, the questions that quickly get to my mind are as follows: ‘Who marginalized the North?’ When did the marginalization of the North start? And who started it? What facts have Sanusi and co to back up the claim that the Northern region has been marginalized? Was the North marginalized when Tafewa Balewa was the prime minister? Or when Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammad Buhari, Ibrahim Babaginda, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Musa Yar’Adua-all Northerners- were heads of states and presidents respectively?. Was the North marginalized during the civil war-or because of the civil war? Is the North marginalized now Sanusi is the governor of the Central Bank? Is he today the governor of the central bank because of the marginalization of the North or in spite of it?
Is Sanusi addressing the marginalization of the North with his position as the central bank governor? How is the North marginalized when we have more states in the North than in the South, more local governments in the north than in the South and more senators and house members from the North than from the South?.
If it is the northern elite and politicians(of which Sanusi is one of them) who marginalized the North, then Sanusi should say it and provide facts and statistics of how the leaders in the region marginalized their own people.
The situation of marginalization is not the same in all states in the North. Is it? So I ask Sanusi to supply the Northern Nigeria Marginalization Index so that we can know the situation in the respective states, instead of wiping up sentiments and engaging in a blame game that will only play into the hands of fanatics and nihilists like the Boko Haram. It is important to know who is responsible for this much talked about predicament and how to apportion blame and responsibilities so that we do not continue to give tacit legitimacy to criminals and murderous groups in Northern Nigeria who are killing innocents people in furtherance of a cause that has nothing to do with the so called marginalization of the North.
For me I think this claim of marginalization is a clear sign of refusal by Sanusi and co to accept responsibility. It is always very easy to portray oneself as a victim and use it as a negotiating chip even in situations of self victimization or in a no clear case of victimization. It is easy to blame the ‘other’-the other person, party, region, religion or regime for the problems we experience instead of looking inwards to track down and address the roots of the problems.
I am strongly of the view that if anyone marginalized the North, it is the Northerners themselves and they should not blame anyone-and should rather blame themselves- for it. Northerners should accept responsibility for the poverty, insecurity, unemployment, ignorance and other problems that plague the region. Instead of looking for someone to blame they should start now to put in place policies and structures to address the development challenges.
Northerners elect those who represent them at the local, state and federal levels. So who do they want to blame for the policies and programs these politicians have made over the years if these policies did not address the needs of people in the region?
All the Northern states receive state allocations and constituency allowances. What have they done with them over the years? What efforts are being made by councillors, state assembly members, house and senate members from Northern Nigeria to address the problems that face the region? What are the house and senate members doing with their constituency allowances? Which projects are they funding with the money allocated to them for development?
If Northern politicians have misused and wasted their budget, and did not use it to tackle the problems in the region, who do they blame for it? If the politicians in the muslim majority states have used their budget to fund sharia courts, pilgrimages to Mecca, arabic schools, the recitation of the Koran and not science and technology based education that can equip young people with useful skills who do the Sanusis of this world blame for marginalizing the North? If the Northern politicians have refused over the years to develop and attract investments to other sectors of their economy how do they want to address poverty and unemployment in the region? If the states in northern Nigeria cannot guarantee the safety, equal rights and freedom of non northerners and non muslims in their midst who work and contribute to the growth of their economy, how do they expect the region to grow, develop and flourish. The time has come to hold Northern elite accountable and responsible for the poverty and general underdevelopment in the region. Sanusi and other ‘progressives’ in the North should look inwards. The marginalization is largely from within.
And anyday the people in northern Nigeria wake up and realize this bitter and liberating truth, things will certainly begin to change for the better.