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The late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto and first premier of the   defunct Northern Region will turn in his grave at the damage his   descendants have done to his legacy in the region he once presided over.   Serial killings, socio-economic dislocations caused by years of   despising, religious and ethnic intolerance and debilitating poverty   have combined to destroy the peace of the once-harmonious north.   Discordant tunes by leaders of the region are indicators of how bad   things are.

Things are truly falling apart for the north. Yet, one indisputable fact   northern Nigerians across the ethnic and religious divide are agreed is   that the late Sir Ahmadu Bello contributed immensely to the religious   harmony the region enjoyed prior to and, in  the years after   independence. The late premier was said to be tolerant of non-Muslim   populations of the north, appointed them into sensitive positions in the   regional government and ensured that some of his closest advisers and   confidants were people who did not necessarily profess his faith.

The late premier embraced all, tolerated all and never discriminated   against any one on the basis of religion. Many in today’s middle belt   who were originally non-Muslims were encouraged to adopt the Islamic   faith largely on account of the way the _Sardauna_ fellowshipped with   them. Yes, he was one Muslim political leader who never allowed religion   to influence his dealing with others. If any non-Muslim of his era or   any non-Muslim northerner of this era harboured misgivings, it could not   have been on the basis of religious differences.

As a mortal, Sir Ahmadu Bello had his shortcomings. But, he succeeded as   a political leader because he was what many of us are not. A little over   fifty-one years after he and some of the country’s finest political   leaders were brutally cut down by drunken and over-pampered soldiers,   Sardauna’s name is still nostalgically mentioned in the present.   Sadly, even the meanest of today’s human locusts and vultures are   quick to bandy his name of around without even pretending to replicate   what the man stood for.

What made the late Sardaunan Sokoto a successful politician was his   heart that was large enough to accommodate everybody and anybody with   views contrary to his. And what is more, he had foresight. Aware of the   large concentration of non Muslims within his domain and aware of what   they could contribute to his success as a leader, the late _Sardauna_   reached out to all and left out none. Fifty-one years on, Sardauna’s   time-tested dictum of ‘let’s understand and appreciate our   differences’, has been turned upside down.

For northern Nigeria, things are dangerously falling apart and the   centre appears incapable of holding. The region has inflicted so much   damage to itself and, today, no thanks to the leadership paralysis in   the region occasioned by the greed, gluttony and short sightedness of   the present crop of political leaders, the already economically   marginalised region is at great risk of being politically marginalised.   Unhappily, even supposed authentic voices that should chart the way   forward engage in needless bickering.

At the heart of the matter is the failure of the north to, permit the   usage, put its house in order. The north has never been this disunited   and unwieldy .Proof that things have got so bad is the near universal   fact that you could  unwittingly, though innocently, be igniting a mini   civil war by simply referring to a Kaje or Birom or Higgi person, or any   member of the ‘northern minorities’, even the Muslims among them, as   Hausa.

The reverse was the case some few years back. Nothing underscores this   flight of tolerance than the crises in Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna and   Plateau states, among others. Until very recent times, the Birom or   Angas saw nothing wrong with a Hausa or Fulani man from Wudil or Wurno   setting up home on the plateau, taking up ‘citizenship’ of Plateau   state and enjoying all the benefits of an indigene. Again, the   now-vexing issue of settler/indigene dichotomy, the new source of   tension and blood-letting in the north, was virtually absent few years   ago. No more so! Today, it is common for northerners to murmur endlessly   that they no longer feel ‘at home away from home’      Of course, the ill-feelings of the recent past and the acrimonies that   have continued to ignite senseless killings can/. be reversed. The first   point of departure is to quit, for once, the ingrained pretences that a   particular religion or ethnic group js more northern than others.   Secondly, it was not an accident that God peopled northern Nigeria with   Muslims, Christians and animists. It was not an accident that different   ethnic groupings found themselves in the region. Had God wished it,   mankind would be speaking one and the same language and profess one and   the same faith.

As it is today, Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, and Zamfara, among others have   indigenous, though minority, Christian populations. We are not even   talking of such states in the so called ‘Muslim north’ as Kaduna,   Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Niger with heavy concentration of   Christian populations. Of course, it is assumed we all know there are   states in the so-called Muslim north where majority of indigenous   populations are Christians! That, precisely, is the genesis of the   problem with the north, a problem which the Sardauna understood and   never allowed to come in the way.

Ultimately, the senseless blood-letting in the north with the attendant   loss of lives will come to an end. Before then, however, we cannot   pretend that more innocent lives will not be lost to more needless   killings. Whatever the case, the north should be big enough for all.

And, until every northerner, irrespective of ethnic and religious   leanings feels at home in any part of the vast plain of the region, the   dream of a return to the old north which literally set the national   agenda will remain in the pipe.

For now, no one should delude themselves into believing the north is   headed in the right direction. It is not!

Written by Abdulrazaq Magaji


[email protected]

This post first appeared on News In Nigeria, please read the originial post: here

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