Northern Nigeria, the region with the highest rotation of political and military leaders, is bleeding profusely and in desperate need of a savior. The region is educationally bleeding, economically flaking, and demographically growing in geometric proportions.
There is a looming dangerous situation in the region akin to sitting on a barrel of gunpowder. With the exception of empty promises of how to deal with the situation, thus creating false hopes, there is an apparent silence on all sides. As evils are engineered in the region, the rulers along with some of us and our supporters seemed to be muted and preferred to play ostrich either out of complicity or out of fear for our lives or so as not to be accused of disloyalty. and lose favors. Those responsible for region / nation development and for preventing evil machinations are busy fabricating excuses to justify their incompetence, nepotism, or lack of leadership.
We are told “what is happening is what should happen” because of “the economic collapse, the destabilization of Libya, the IS intrusion into the country and similar excuses.” The situation is so bad that some of our leaders are confused, frustrated and making conflicting suggestions; “People should acquire weapons to defend themselves against insecurity”, “acquisition of weapons for self-defense is illegal” and so on. How did the north degenerate to this precarious level?
Poor education crowned with social injustice is the key variable responsible for massive degeneration in the north. With education, knowledge is acquired, optimal human potential is realized, and society would develop steadily and progress to greatness. Without education, the oxygen that sustains the life of society would gradually stop and bleed to extinction.
Educationally, northern Nigeria has lagged far behind its southern counterpart since its merger in 1914. Over the years, the government has formulated policies to close the gap and achieve relatively uniform human capital development across the country. nationwide. Policies such as disadvantaged states in education, catchment areas; the cut-off points were part of government efforts to facilitate faster educational development in the north and in some educationally disadvantaged areas in the south, such as riparian areas.
Three decades after the policy was formulated, the education gap between the north and the south continues to widen at an alarming rate. In fact, the state and educational level of primary and secondary schools, especially in the north, have plunged to the lowest level from their status three decades ago. Not thanks to the devastating poverty, nepotism and social injustice that plague the region in addition to demographic factors.
Three years ago, a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicated that the out-of-school child population in Nigeria had increased from 10.5 million in 2010 to 13.2 million. It was the largest population of out-of-school children in the world.
Most of these children are in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram insecurities have disrupted school activities. Today, other children in the northwest are forced by circumstances not to go to school for almost a year and a half. In March 2020, schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year 2021, some states in the region have ordered schools to be closed to prevent the mass abduction of children by bandits. The directive came after some school children were taken from their schools. As schools become the target of armed criminals, children are forced to stay outside and wait for government directive to resume. How long will the wait last?
To add salt to the injuries, some weekly rural markets have been temporarily closed to deal with the insecure situation in the region. This action has serious repercussions on the economic well-being of the population and, consequently, causes unrest. These disheartening events of the past and a half years; the COVID 19 pandemic and the despicable acts of armed criminals have shaken the already perilous state of education in the north, causing the region to bleed profusely.
The area cannot survive this bleeding condition and the type of restlessness that has been felt for a long time. The future is being built today and if a shaky foundation is used, the future will not only be bleak, but may lead to the region’s total disintegration with the hell that is consuming us all. So what do we do?
The first is to stop the bleeding and then infuse new blood to breathe life and dynamism into the area. Let us sincerely identify the causes of the educational, social and security challenges in the region and by extension in Nigeria. Systematic corruption, which has been fully entrenched in the Nigerian regime, is a major cause that must be addressed, if not eliminated altogether. Systematic corruption has polluted all facets of societal developments; the emergence of leaders in society, the degradation of infrastructure, the management of common resources and many others.
Identifying and tackling systematic corruption may not be an easy and quick task to accomplish in a timely manner. It’s as dangerous as a rattlesnake. He defends himself seriously when he senses danger. Thus, the problem must be strategically planned and executed over time. In the meantime, we must fight against the insecurity that is ravaging the region.
Nigerian leaders have the sole responsibility to initiate a permanent solution to address the problem of insecurity. The government can use both the carrot and the stick to tackle the problems. Giving a soft landing to genuine repentant bandits should be considered. We have seen how some insurgents have surrendered recently and are being reintegrated into society.
However, adequate compensation for victims must go hand in hand when considering any type of soft landing. To use the baton, Nigeria must be well prepared to acquire the necessary security personnel, equipment and manpower development. At present, there are less than 500,000 police officers in the country.
They are largely insufficient to police around 210 million people in the country, according to current estimates. We have to be honest with ourselves to remedy this northern hemorrhagic condition in order to avoid impending calamity. Otherwise none of us will be safe and the future may be doomed when we begin to reap the rewards of our inability to educate our children today. There will be no escape for all of us. May God prevent the imminent danger.