By MURTALA MAIKANO BILBIS
Northern Nigeria remains the largest and most populous part of Nigeria, where more than 300 tribes with different beliefs and cultures reside. The region has 3 geo-political zones and 19 states out of 36 including the Federal Capital of Nigeria, Abuja. The Northern part of Nigeria has been witnessing series of ethno-religious and political violence which consumed thousands of lives and properties worth Billions of Naira, the crisis sometimes have been attributed to lack of good governance in Nigeria.
Ethnicity is seen as one of the factors that caused political and economic deterioration in the North, it creates misunderstanding amongst the different ethnic groups, and this led to the escalation of violence in the troubled region. The fact is that domination and marginalization, which some minority groups accuse the majority of, most especially in the political scene, may be real or at best imagined. In any case, we can find out that economy is one of the elements to the problem, in terms of commercial activities in some states like Plateau, Taraba and Nasarawa states, where the issue of original indigene and the residents mostly arise and regarded as a do or die affair. Most of those claiming the original indigenes, accuse those branded as the casual residents of dominating them in commercial activities on their own land.
Religion as a faith to believe in or adhere to is also seen as another factor to the endemic crisis bedevilling the North. Nigerians are mostly known of being adherent of their faiths, be it Islam or Christianity, but unfortunately, they use to have wrong interpretations or perceptions over the term “Faith” because there is no compulsion in any religion, therefore, if that is the case, let everyone adhere to his or her belief without interrupting or criticizing one another because of our different beliefs.
In the political field, religion remains a medium to create misunderstanding amongst many ethno-religious groups; politics play major roles in diverting attention of the commonman from right to wrong direction in order to attain particular and personal goals politically.
The 2011 Kaduna State Governorship Election and the 2015 Taraba State Governorship Election are clear examples, where some influential politicians used their power and manipulated the elections which cumulated in bloodshed of innocent people, with a view to satisfying and protecting the interest of particular ethnic group.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo assumed power in 1999 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Several committees were set up to investigate and find out the immediate causes of the violence, but later it ended up with nothing positively achieved. In view of that carelessness shown by the then ruling party, PDP, many Nigerians accused the party of politicizing the matter and similar attempts were also made by the former President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 general elections aftermath, but still, the comprehensive report of Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Lemu Committee, which paved a particular way of ending the crisis was also swept under the carpet, probably because the truth is bitter.
As the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over, Nigerians and the North in particular need to test the truth regarding the party’s slogan of “Change” in order to rescue the region and the country in general from the lingering crisis. Considering the critical condition the North fell into, many people in the area perceive the new government as a remedy to the current situation. This has to be a stimulus to mobilise the new President, Muhammadu Buhari, to plan new strategies that can help in sweeping out the dirty spots left behind by PDP.
No doubt, economic activities in the Northern part of Nigeria have been paralysed due to the incessant crisis, which has rendered many powerful businessmen powerless and jobless. The situation also pulled many children to orphanages and their mothers remain widows as well. Peace is considered as the backbone of any meaningful society, therefore, considering the current insecurity and crisis worrying the Northern region, the situation has forced many international investors to relocate their business activities to the Southern part of Nigeria, as even agriculture is now becoming a very expensive occupation in the area, which seems beyond the reach of the commonman.
As unity and mutual understanding amongst the residing ethnic groups are virtually being restored in the North, considering how they kept their differences aside during the 2015 Presidential election and massively voted for General Muhammadu Buhari, one can definitely realise that Northerners have learnt a great lesson from the PDP. It is now left for the new leadership to plan on how to reconstruct and rehabilitate the region.
And there is need for President Buhari to revisit the Sheikh Ahmad Lemu 2011 report for sustainable peace to rein in the North.
By MURTALA MAIKANO BILBIS