Psychasthenia, obsessive-compulsive-disorders, compulsions, nervous breakdowns, obsessions, unreasonable fears or any other psychological disorder. It seems almost inevitable that in this day and age most of the world is on the verge of one of these universal conditions. With all sorts of challenges worldwide; the economy, the wars, the intolerance and the conspiracies, who isn’t going through some kind of psychological disorder right about now? But the disorder that has been weighing heavily on my mind is the one that Northern Nigeria is at present going through.
Northern Nigeria is at this very time a region that is suffering from a very bad case of psychasthenia characterized by unity-phobias, religious-obsessions, violent-compulsions and excessive poverty-anxiety. Northern Nigeria; a region filled with baron, beautiful, undulating landscapes, amazing scenery, beautiful flora of evergreen trees and native bush, sparse prehistoric arid dessert-like Saharas, home to the most fertile land within a backdrop of the most spectacular display of agricultural tapestry. It’s hard for me not to feel awed by my home land every time I think of its grace, its people. But despite all that is wonderful in Northern Nigeria, its beauty and its cocktail of tribes, cultures and complicated multi-layered issues, there is something very wrong in our Northern Nigeria of today.
The fact that the situation in Northern Nigeria has essentially been a main talking point, shows that the breakdown Arewa is going through is weighing on many other minds. If we cut right to the chase in dissecting the issue at the heart of our present Northern psychasthenia, we find that the problems facing Arewa today are primarily about a fundamental lack of justice. A lack of transparency and tremendous corruption conducted and condoned by the past, present and likely future leadership of the North. St Augustine quotes that, “in the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” And perhaps nowhere at this present time can this be truer than in Northern Nigeria.
Trailing near injustice is a great ethical degradation that never used to be part of the Northern identity. This ethical degradation has everything to do with power and money. And specifically a Northern power on the decline; paranoid, empty of glory and threatened by everything, even the shadows.
In the past several months, since it became apparent that President Goodluck Johnathan is likely to be an ‘African’ extending his stay in power, so called Northern leaders have come out from hibernation to cry ‘blue murder’. Leaders whose silence, at a time when carnage ravaged the north in the form of the Boko Haram brutality, was deafening, have all found their voice to cry foul because “Johnny seems to want a second… or is it third term?”
Also, northern heavy weights have come out to odiously challenge what they call the great injustice in the current revenue structure and sharing formula where the Niger delta states get approximately N24 billion a month of fiscal allotment, while Northern states collect N4 billion. At this point, even with the asymmetrical revenue formula, it is doubtful as to whether the average Northerner gives a toss on how much Jigawa State collects as opposed to Akwa Ibom state. It’s not like the money actually trickles down to the vast majority of the public anyway.
Whenever real issues face the north such as our dwindling agricultural sector, our sparse educational challenge, our emergent dichotomy and the violence that is eating away at us, our rulers, elders, leaders often meet the news with an almost catatonic silence. And instead of adequately addressing those issues which incidentally are the real plagues of the north, they do what all hapless leaders do when they don’t care; they look the other way. But the minute that the issue centres on who should be the next president or monies to be collected, our northern leaders have a way of standing up first and shouting the loudest, as if those are the issues that ordinary northerners are concerned about.
Honestly, with no ostensible sense of irony, Northern leaders speak of the presidency being the turn of the north, but they say nothing of the fact that a good number of them were instrumental in renting out and mortgaging the supposed turn of a Northern presidency when they supported a very cruel Obasanjo at the time he hoisted a gravely ill man on the throne at a time when the North was given its chance. When Obasanjo insisted on anointing Late Umaru Yaradua as president, everybody knew he was not the best option the north had. None were more convinced of this than the governors who frequently complained of the late Presidents’ non participation in their governors’ forums. Yet when President Yaradua was chosen, all the northern governors kept mum, none of them spoke out against it.
Northern rulers complain about the revenue sharing formula, but say noting about the fact that the present revenue that the north is receiving now is in no way reaching even 5% of the Northern population. Neither has there been any acknowledgement that the majority of Northern Nigerian youth have a grim future because they have no education. At the time that the basic education scheme was introduced, we were told in a manner of a pep talk given to slightly obtuse children that it would benefit the North more than any other region. But since its inception, instead of our children being in the class rooms, they are out on the streets begging and waiting for word on when the next sectarian violence will start so that they can participate and no ruler has found a voice to speak out about it.
Yes, our leaders speak a lot; they speak about what the North wants, of what they think the North should get, but they have not spoken a word of what the North really needs, the true reasons for its failures, the renditions, the lack of education, the dearth of unity, the emergency. Northern injustice, Northern ethical degradation; these all play a part in giving the North the psychasthenia that is so abound, they all play a part in giving way to the hydra headed monster which is corruption.
Corruption is a concept that, unfortunately, is so familiar to all Nigerians. And corruption means something to Northerners and when you break it down, what it means is this. There is no other place in the whole of Nigeria where the class divide between the rich and the poor is more obvious than it is than in the north. Since independence, Nigeria has been ruled by a Northern ruler for an approximate total of 38 years out of 52 years, yet in every corner of Northern Nigeria, millions of people can barely afford to feed their families. That in a recent Forbes listing of the richest Africans in the world, at least four northerners claim the slots in the top 40, including the top spot, yet several northern states have the highest incidence of poverty in the entire country. Littered all over the length and breath of Nigeria are Almajiris and beggars of a Northern origin. Religious bigotry and sectarian hatred in the north has become so intense that it has formed an identity even to the most objective and exposed within us. For every national examination sat in this country the aggregate of the region with the lowest candidates is the north. The regional bloodletting and consummate violence; which has been the by-product of the injustice in the society is getting worse.
It is when one sits down to really consider some of these inconsistencies and tries to relate them vis-à-vis each other that one can appreciate the attitudes that contribute to the erosion of the north. An inconsistency that was borne by injustice, selfishness, bad leadership, lack of foresight and every other factor that has contributed in bringing the North to its knees.
These facts are all well known; constantly people write and debate about them. All the goals and the ideals that this, once upon a time, giant within the giant of Africa has ever had, has been lost and is totally missed. We missed our goals because since the passing of Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto (yes him again), the North has had the misfortune of a short-sighted leadership that truly either doesn’t really care or doesn’t realise their part in the decay of the ideals of being a northerner and the accord that once made the North a force to be reckoned with.
There it is and as difficult as it is to say, this is the crux of it, the stark reality of the plight of the North, this psychasthenia we are suffering from. So the next time that our leaders, rulers and elders speak out on behalf of the North, they should please give the North a break and speak out, not on selective issues that affect them directly, but on the real issues that are truly plaguing the heart of the north, the issues that give way to this terrible case of psychasthenia Northern Nigeria is suffering from.
Article Written By Hannatu Musawa
You can follow me on Twitter- @hanneymusawa