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OPINION: The Self-Infliction by the North

By Faith Berewa

It made for grim reading. The statistics were stark, dark and disturbing. But these were not just statistics. They were men, women and children, young and old. They had aspirations. They had dreams. They had ambitions.

At the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers meeting in Kaduna on Tuesday the 30th of April, the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu disclosed that 1071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country in the first quarter of 2019.

Of this, 767 were from the north, with the North West topping the death list with 436, North Central with 250 deaths came second and South South 130 deaths. Adamu said the crime statistics showed that between January and April at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country. Below is the disclosure by the acting IG as reported by Sahara Reporters.

“…..He added that Zamfara State with 203 murder cases topped the national prevalence rate, Kaduna State followed closely with 112 reported cases while 90 people were killed in Benue State.

According to Adamu, most of the murder cases recorded in the North are linked to banditry and communal violence. In relation to banditry, he said, a total of 175 deaths were reported between January and April, with Zamfara State topping the list with 104 reported cases, followed by Katsina State with 21 killed by bandits and Sokoto with 19 cases.

On kidnappings, the IGP said 546 or 79.8 per cent of the national total were recorded in the three northern geopolitical zones. He said the highest zonal prevalence rate occurred in the North-West, where 365 persons were reported kidnapped within the period under review.

“This is followed by the North-Central geopolitical zone where 145 persons were kidnapped,” he said. “It is pertinent to mention that Zamfara State has the highest national kidnap rate with 281 victims in what has been directly linked to the activities of bandits in the state.

This is followed by Kogi and Niger states where 65 and 51 persons respectively were kidnapped within the period.”

On armed robbery, Adamu disclosed that a total of 212 major armed robbery cases were reported nationally within the period under review. The North, with 130 major robbery cases representing 59.43 per cent of the national total incident rate, topped the list of armed robbery profile.

“The North-Central geopolitical zone with a total of 81 armed robbery cases represents the zone with the highest rate while Niger State, the FCT and Zamfara State with 32, 23 and 18 cases respectively occupy the three topmost states in the national armed robbery profile,” he added.

These figures are unbelievable in a country not at war. It speaks of the disfunctionality of governance, a wretched system failing in its responsibility to provide cover for its citizens.

For the North, sadly the chicken has come home to roost. Our elites can’t say they did not see this coming. Even if they did, certainly not in this fashion.   They have been living in self-deception, hoping the rot they had sown would not come back to haunt them.

But, building up like a putrefying wound, has begun to manifest its ugliness.  Thinking they could hide behind their gated mansions, while locking out the talakawas, the poor and marginalized, they refused to invest in the people, paying lip service to education while their own kids are sent to schools abroad to get the best education so as to come back and occupy positions that would continue the maginalization of their poor.

It’s no wonder that the north with the highest illiteracy rate in the country, and the highest out of school children is the region with the highest poverty rate in Nigeria.

The educational statistics especially for the North West and north eastern states are shameful, embarrassing and a huge joke. For instance, according to NECO, the number of pupils that sat for National Common Entrance examination in 2018… Zamfara..28, Kebbi..50,  Taraba…95, Rivers…4,810, Lagos…24,465.

This year the number of pupils from Zamfara stood at 59 out of 75,635!  How about JAMB? In 2018, Imo topped candidates registration with 93,048 followed by Oyo with 86,687, Osun, 86,065, ….Jigawa 18,365, Yobe 15,536,  Kebbi 15,341, Sokoto 13,493,  Zamfara… 10,090.

The last four pitching the bottom are from the North and all four states put together are not up to Edo State with 66,552 that is 7th in the ranking. And these numbers out of a region that claims the highest population in the country!  As the pidgin parlance goes, we neva ready.

The return to democracy in 1999 was an opportunity to reset the educational development of the north. A region Sir Ahmadu Bello was reported to have said that in 40years would close the educational gap with the south.

Those after him did not continue with his dream and our political elites instead of taking the bull by the horn, built a system of abandonment and subjugation of the ordinary citizens.

Now they have become haunted. Kids who were hardly out of their diapers two decades ago, and teenagers that played street football then and who, two decades later would have been the pride and strength of the north have become their nightmare.

For when the State neglected them by not equipping their minds for productivity through sound education, they have become the ‘devil’s workshop’ unleashing death, destruction and misery.

The North’s abundant human, agricultural and natural resources should have been its advantage and exploited to the maximum for economic and social development.

With selfless leaders, the north would have been transformed into an agricultural paradise with produce for domestic and foreign markets, food processing industries all over, creating development, jobs and flourishing communities. We wouldn’t be known as the habitation of extreme poverty.

It is disconcerting that a region so blessed has become a den of bandits, kidnappers and mass murderers.

Faith Berewa, a columnist with Sahel Standard Newspapers sent this from Kaduna

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