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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sardauna's Northern Nigeria: 58 years on Monday

From Agaju Madugba, Katsina
~The SUN Nigeria.  March 27, 2017. 

March 15, 2017, marked Northern Nigeria's 58 years of 'self-rule.' A year before Nigeria gained political independence, the then British colonial government had granted Northern Nigeria self-rule in 1959, which paved the way for the area to become part of an independent Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1960.

Some 57 years on, having produced a total of eight leaders for the country, including military heads of state, there are indications that the North has not made many significant development strides, beyond the efforts of its late Premier, the revered Sir Ahmadu Bello. In this report, Agaju Madugba x-rays current socio-economic and political developments in Northern Nigeria, against the backdrop of a certain level of progress recorded in other parts of the country within the same period.

Sarduana's Northern Nigeria
Several years after he was killed in Nigeria's first military putsch in 1966, Sir Ahmadu Bello has remained a household name in the North, as he continues to enjoy popularity, even in death. Successive northern leaders have dropped his name at the slightest opportunity and reeled out a long list of Sarduana's achievements and how he succeeded in weaving the divergent peoples of the North into what later came to be regarded as the homogenous North.

But the Sarduana's Northern Nigeria of today may have lost the homogenous tag. Apart from the exigencies of the times, leading to the balkanisation of the area into the current 19 states, the North has since acquired an inglorious reputation for being one of the most backward areas in the world, in terms of general human development. Northern Nigeria has also turned to a safe haven for criminals hiding under the garb of religion.

Aside from the latest Boko Haram phenomenon, various other groups had in the past rendered the North virtually inhabitable, further depleting investment and economic opportunities for the area. From Benue to Plateau to Kaduna, Nasarawa and Taraba states, the activities of 'unidentified gunmen' have continued to have devastative impact on the communities. There were also the Maitatsine riots in Kano, the Zangon-Kataf crisis in Kaduna, the Tiv/Jukun clashes in Taraba, Birom/Hausa Fulani fights in Plateau, the post-presidential election riots in 2011, the Miss World riots in Kaduna, ethno-religious and communal violence in Kaduna, Nasarawa and Benue states, youth brigandage in Okene, Kogi State. Indeed, the list is endless.

In the days of the Sarduana, as his admirers would often say, northerners did not take up arms against one another, in spite of the socio-cultural and religious diversity of the people.

In fact, according to the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, "these are not the best of times for the North, especially when we recall that, hundreds of years ago, the people of what is today known as Northern Nigeria were already trading with the large kingdoms of the western Sudan. Now, it is almost impossible to take goods from Yola to Maiduguri without fatal consequences and it is common in some quarters to discuss how the North appears to be dragging the nation down, and to reel out indices that show how the North is poorer, less educated and less enterprising than the other parts of Nigeria."

Indeed, the indices may well be described as alarming. Over the last few years, the North has reportedly continued to lag behind other sections of the country in educational development as school-age children and adolescents from the area roam the streets of major towns begging for alms.

According to former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, if the North is able to wake up from its slumber, it will take some 50 years for the area to attempt to catch up with the rest of the country in educational development alone. The deep-rooted almajiri culture seems to overwhelm whatever efforts the Federal Government and individual states make to get the children off the streets and send them to school.

As part of measures to check the trend, the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan established model schools in different parts of the North, designed to introduce Western education alongside Islamic education for the almajiri. In Katsina State, that model school has since turned to a cattle grazing yard.

The Sarduana had in 1959 put the entire population of the North at 18 million, describing it then as "the biggest single unit after Egypt in the continent of Africa." Today, the North still remains the most populated section of Nigeria with eight of the 19 northern states alone recording well over 33 million people, according to the 2006 national population figures. But the growth in population has equally produced a large number of illiterate people, in a world where education is described as the most important factor that determines economic and technological advancement of a people.

An illiterate population
Statistics indicate that an average of about 100,000 students from Imo State alone seek admission every year to universities through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), while a combination of 16 states in the North, excluding Benue, Kogi and Kwara, produce only 73,000 candidates. The figure translates to an average of approximately 4,500 candidates from each of the affected states in the North. Even Kano State, with its very large population, produces less than 10 per cent of candidates compard to Imo State.

Government had, in 1976, launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme in Sokoto State and later, in 1999, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme, also in Sokoto. There is no doubt that government decided to use the North as a launch pad for these educational projects to enable the area exploit the benefits and, perhaps, catch up with the rest of the country. But that has not been the case, as there is progressive decline in the educational fortunes of the North in particular even as all other indices of development are equally skewed against the area.

According to Prof. Mary Lar of the University of Jos, "when it comes to education, the giant North is still in comfortable slumber relative to the other regions of the country."

She goes further to point out that between 60 and 80 per cent of school-age children who should be in school are not in school.

This development may not be unconnected with the low adult literacy level in the North, compared to other parts of the country. In 2010, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) conducted a survey to determine the adult literacy level in Nigeria. The overall literacy rate was calculated based on the ability to read and write in any language, English or any other language.According to the survey, the overall adult literacy rate for the country was 71.6 per cent, with Lagos maintaining the lead with 87.7 per cent. Kano recorded the highest literacy level in the North with 41.9 per cent; Sokoto had 33.1 per cent, while Bauchi had 39.5 per cent. And, according to the Federal Ministry of Education, out of 6,468 secondary schools with a total enrolment of 4,448,869 students nationwide, only 2,419 (37 per cent) of the schools with an enrolment of 1,4117,645 are from the North.

Equally frightening are admission figures showing the number of students admitted into universities in the country, from JAMB. In 2012, according to JAMB, a total of about 13,974 candidates from Anambra State gained admission to study various courses in the nation's universities through the Joint Matriculation Examination (JME). Ogun State had 13,339, and Abia had 8,874. However, for the same year, only 747 candidates from Borno State secured admission through the JME; Yobe had 999 candidates, Kebbi had 1,702, and Jigawa had 1,305 candidates.

Similarly, a 2016 report by the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF, showed that, despite existing bilateral and multilateral educational programmes, millions of girls in Northern Nigeria are without primary-level education and a much larger number drop out without basic literacy and numeracy skills. As the report puts it, "worst affected are the most marginalised girls who stay in rural and excluded communities. This gap in educational provision is not simply due to lack of resources to send the girl-child to school; several other peculiar issues make the sum total, but the culture of silence imposed on girls has made it increasingly difficult for girls and women to make their voices heard in matters that concern them."

On some other fronts, women in the North take the back stage as their status in decision- making positions is skewed against that of their male counterparts. According to reports, at the Katsina State Universal Basic Education Board, for example, out of the total 110 "senior staff," including the Chief Executive Officer, only seven of them were women.

Poverty, disease ravaging the North
Figures from the NBS also say the number of the poor in Nigeria is on the rise. In 2004, 55 per cent of the Nigerian people were living in absolute poverty. By 2010, the figure had risen to 61 per cent, and, "the situation is particularly bad in northern states, where over three-quarters of the population live in absolute poverty/"

UNICEF believes that infant and maternal mortality rates in the North are "alarmingly" the highest in the country. According to a recent report by the UN organ, no fewer than one million children born in Nigeria die before their fifth birthday, with most of the deaths occurring in northern states. The report notes further that "the number of women who die due to pregnancy and related causes is also alarming, with a disproportionate number of the maternal deaths occurring in the North." And, according to the Nigerian Democratic Health Survey of the National Population Commission, 88.6 per cent of pregnant women in the North-West still give birth at home with all the attendant risks. The same report gives the figure for the North-East as 82.2 per cent and the North-Central, 54.6 per cent, while the South-East is 13.2 per cent and South-West, 20.8 per cent. The report notes further that northern women are the least informed about warning signs of pregnancy complications, compared with their counterparts from the southern part of the country. For the North-Central, North-East and North-West, 47.3, 44.3 and 48.1 per cent of the women, respectively, are informed, contrary to the 66.0, 60.0 and 75.6 per cent of pregnant women from the South-East, South-South and South-West, respectively.

The issues of poverty and underdevelopment in the North have continued to attract the attention even from outside the North. According to a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, "it will require a state of emergency to address the crippling poverty and debilitating under-development in the North."

Moreover, President Muhammadu Buhari's home state of Katsina currently has the inglorious reputation of having the highest number of malnourished children in Nigeria, spread across 15 of the 34 local government areas in the state, according to UNICEF. The UN estimates that 2,300 children under five years and 145 women of child-bearing age die every day in Nigeria. Again, Katsina State has the highest toll, along with 59.7 per cent and 43.6 per cent underweight, a fallout of undernourished children,with malnutrition alone causing more than 50 per cent of the deaths.

Legacy betrayed
In spite of these negative developments that seem to retard the progress of the North since the demise of the Sarduana, successive northern leaders do not appear to take appropriate measures to check the lapses and, perhaps, chart a new course for the overall well-being of the people. They continue to flaunt the Sarduana's name without commensurate efforts at building on the legacies he bequeathed the North.

In fact, according to former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who also hails from the North, "what is happening today is not the Nigeria and the North we inherited. And for us, it cannot be the North we desire to bequeath to our children. We have over the years, through our action or inaction, directly or indirectly, allowed the gradual descent to the present disagreeable and unacceptable behaviours in our communities and the entire North."

From Plateau State to the southern part of Kaduna State, where the issue of who is an indigene and settler continues to claim scores of lives in ethnic and religious conflicts, to Benue State, where majority of the people would rather align themselves with the Middle-Belt concept, thus questioning the geographical entity called Northern Nigeria, to the seven states in the north-west zone, where the 'Core North' phenomenon has consistently pitched the Hausa and Fulani against the other tribal groupings from the area, the North appears to have bitten more than it can chew.

Northern leaders have over the years succeeded in mismanaging the legacies that the Sarduana bequeathed to the people of the region. Reports show that Nigeria was a major exporter of groundnuts produced in the North and the proceeds were invested in the establishment of some institutions, which included the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, New Nigeria Development Company, New Nigeria Newspapers and Arewa Textile, among others.

However, apparently still living in the past and with a tendency to always drop the Sarduana's name along with those of his compatriots at any opportune time, a cross-section of contemporary northern leaders seem to have failed to come to terms with the realities of modern Nigeria or the peculiar trend of events that tend to drive the modern world, which, if adopted, may even present better opportunities for the people than those of the Sarduana era.

From all indications, the Sarduana's legacy appears to endure but the crop of today's leaders from the North fail to emulate Sir Ahmadu Bello who, from reports, lived a Spartan life devoid of any form of ostentatious extravagance, compared to today's exhibition of wealth by leaders in the midst of corrosive poverty among the majority of the population.

In his capacity as Premier, an obviously elated Sir Ahmadu Bello had on March 15, 1959, told the visiting Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh that, "in agriculture, we are one of the two leading exporters of groundnut in the world and our cotton supplies a substantial part of Lancashire's needs. In mining, we are the foremost producer of columbite. In industrial development, we are in our infancy but the success of the great textile mill here in Kaduna, the latest in West Africa, is a potent showing what we can achieve when the cheap hydro-electric power, which we plan to provide, becomes available in our main commercial centres…I have said a good deal about commerce because future prosperity of this region, like that of the United Kingdom, depends on our ability to maintain and if possible, enlarge our share of world trade."

Unfortunately, Sarduana died before he could realise some of the programmes he had for his people. But he succeeded in setting up the textile mills, along with strings of other business empires for the North some of which his successors have since mismanaged out of existence. The popular groundnut pyramids of Kano have since disappeared while religious intolerance thrives and the North has virtually become a killing field and as one writer observes, "the foundation of one North, one people, has crumbled. The picture is real and the message is clear, the North has fallen. The power of the North has gone awry and Arewa has lost its aura."

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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