Who marginalizes the north?

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January is the peace before the storm, especially for those waiting for February elections which undoubtedly carries with it great apprehension. For some, this may be the beginning of a new era for the northern region, for others, there is nothing new about the same people in power.

If the elite structure shifts in coming elections, will such a shift be strong enough to accomodate all the necessary factors that must be present for a more economically driven northern Nigeria to exist?

Will it help the northern people to think through mass dependence on government institutions to rid the region of under-development inspired challenges? Will it end the reign of the al-majiris, the diverse Islamic sects, high levels of illiteracy & poverty as well growing insurgency, or will it simply mean than the responsibility for northern Nigeria will be in the hands of northern Nigerians.

Of course it’s often acceptable to allow a people govern themselves and solve their own problems in ways familiar to them. But have those charged with the responsibility of governing states in northern Nigeria been able to make meaningful impact on the lives of their citizens beyond the efforts of Ahmadu Bello?

Oil revenues have long been distributed to all the state’s in Nigeria as regular practice over the years. Yet parts of northern Nigeria which were in existence before the discovery of oil have remained largely the same, in some instances they have become worse. Who is to be blamed for this? Past and present Nigerian presidents? Elections? Religion?

The answer of course is NO. By failing to solve the basic problems of wealth creation, income distribution and economic growth, the political structure in charge of northern Nigeria have made the northern problem, a Nigerian problem. If the north is really being marginalized, then no one does it better than the northern political elites themselves.

Are those who will take charge of northern states after the 2015 elections capable of changing the odds? Will a change in government structure address these problems? Will there be a reduction in religious extremism and ethnic biases? The question as to whether the north will change after coming elections i cannot answer, but as to why the north is the way it currently is, this is simple.

The north is riddled with good people, and extremely bad leaders. For any meaningful change to happen, the leadership structure of northern Nigeria equally has to change.