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Northern Leaders and the Region’s Fate

For the north to reel out of its squalour, there is definitely a need for major rethinking, an inside-out revolution of mindset. A region and its people cannot develop when a handful of its population can ‘live high on the hog’ almost for eternity. Witness how many traditional rulers, ‘first class’ Emirs and Chiefs especially, sit on their thrones for decades with nothing to show for it, while at the same time, they and their relatives live in luxury. These rulers expend so much energy to ensure that only those who will protect their own self-interest get to be presented as ‘Northern Leaders’. I am yet to see sufficient evidence of the public good that had been done by these traditional rulers, especially, the long serving ones among them. It used to be the case that they employed the services of the socalled ‘native authority’–a bunch of pathetic characters dressed in clownish outfits, running around hounding and harassing the populace, especially under the guise of tax collection. The saving grace for the ‘masses’ was probably the emergence of military governments, that put an end to the terror conducts of these minions. In fact, one can now argue that the conduct of Boko Haram, and the inability of the traditional rulers to respond clearly demonstrates their illegitimacy as rulers. The manner in which Boko Haram has emasculated the Emirs and Chiefs is too revealing to ignore. These were the same rulers who were able to whisper into the ears of the likes of Ibrahim Babangida to overthrow Buhari’s regime, partly due to Buhari’s willingness to put them in check. Whatever happened to their supposed ‘influence’? Should anyone venture to retort that they possess no armed forces or security capability, then the question ought to be asked, of what good are they? More importantly, why is their existence so heavily subsidised, often times, at the expense of the future generation? After all, it is not that they ever served the interest of the ordinary citizen anyway. They have always legitimised value on the basis of influence peddling, but now that they have been unable to ‘influence’ Boko Haram, state government, or federal government, even to save their own lives, then the ‘jig is up’. The ruse has been uncovered.After all, nowhere was it ever ‘written by the fingers of God, that certain individuals, just by virtue of, or by accident of birth should ‘lord it’ over the rest, forever. In fact, I will submit that the concept of rulership by inheritance should be alien to sunni Muslim north in particular. After all, the Exemplar of Muslim conducts and traditions (Prophet Muhammad) never practiced leadership by inheritance.The northern reengineering and reorientation campaign should also emphasise the need to seek out, identify, and present educated, enlightened, committed individuals, regardless of family background. In some sense, this is actually a clarion call for a return to late Aminu Kano’s philosophy, whereby, the children of ‘talakawas’ share in the opportunity for development and leadership. Though it must be noted that some of the current crop of ‘Northern Elites’ were once ‘talakawas’ or are children of ‘talakawas’ whose loyalty to self and kin has now gone awry. After Amimu Kano rescued them and their parents from the shackles of parasitic ‘Sarakunas’, they have now become the predators. Furthermore, it is arguable that Buhari actually represents the Aminu Kano of this generation, and like the Aminu Kano of the past, his beliefs, philosophy, agenda, and popularity among the dispossessed has remained a disturbing threat to the ruling class. However, in this second time around, the population of the north needs to remain vigilant, so as not to be hoodwinked by the hypocrites within. Yes, it is not always easy to tell the hypocrites from the sincere, but, it is worth the effort.



*this was published in the Daily Times dated Thursday, December 18, 2014

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