The north is home to the most uneducated Nigerians. This is true if by “uneducated” we mean lack of western education. I am choosing my words very carefully, as this is already a documented fact available in the public space. The north incubates about 12 million out of school children presently. It is the highest anywhere around the country. That is a total number of some states combined. That is the total number of people inSouth Sudan. Bigger than Tunisia, Benin or Belgium with about 11 million people each. This means that an alarming number of uneducated population big enough to be a nation all by itself exists within our country. This population is a large herd of ill-informed, provincialized men and women, who equally serve as the “power bank” of the northern elites’ perpetuation in power.
The North does not see its insularity as a thing of embarrassment. Rather it sees it as source of piety. It is piety to acquire religious education. Unlike western education, religious education is deemed superior, better and purer. It is rewarded with paradise. It took a long time to convince many northerners to send their children to acquire western education. If you want to understand this you must consider how up till today, the girl-child education is yet to gain wider acceptance among the people.
The point is that even among those who have acquired western education, a veiled sense of abhorrence for it still exist. It is held suspect as harbinger of immorality, and an an enterprise of the infidels, which does not add value to the pursuit of the after-life. For this reason the vast majority of the people remain satisfied with the acquisition of religious education only. There are more mosques in the north than there are primary schools. The disdain for western education has blinded many from its profitability! It is the reason why you find that even among those who have escaped from the cave of this retrogressive, parochial mindset, the temptation to recede into a mode of bigotry remains irresistible.
We have examples. Some are awed at the exposure, accomplishments and educational pedigree of the late Abba Kyari. But it baffles me up till today, why he supervised the engine-room of this regime whose key appointments are fundamentally “north-sided.” It contradicts that exposure, that cosmopolitan ascription. For as appointments after appointments were made, the federal character requirements were ignored in service of that provincialism. A man of his learning should have guided the president away from his proclivity to nepotism.
Apart from being provincial, the north is steep in hypocrisy. To paint the picture, let me recall the political climate shortly before the reelection of Nasir El-Rufai in Kaduna State. At this time, general opinion had scored El-Rufai very low for his high handedness. Already, he had earned a reputation for a “demolition man” (Mai Rusau) among the people. He had snuffed the life out of their subsidies to holy land, for pilgrimages. He had snatched the feeding-bottle of their “iftar’s” stipends during Ramadan. The people were exasperated. Their anger was palpable. He became the object of name-calling. The poor were frustrated. The clergy was crossed. Their collective resolve was to show him the way out of Sir Kashim Ibrahim house using their ballots. A palpable sense of uncertainty filled the air.
Then, he threw in the Muslim-Muslim ticket in the mix. This threw Muslim community into two parts. Those who saw it as an aberration to have a woman at the helm and those who saw it as a lesser evil in comparison to having the PDP candidate ascend the seat with a “John” as deputy. The debate raged. In mosques and in rallies, the religious leaders advanced theological and political reasons to make their points. One popular line of argument held that it is no longer reasonable to regard the elections as a contest between APC and PDP, as it is between Christians and Muslims. It was sermonized that as brothers, the Muslims must forgive and forget whatever wrong El-Rufai had committed against them for the interest of the faith. For Islam. The rest, as to the credibility or otherwise of the elections, is as they say, water under the bridge!
I make this point to argue that Kaduna is miniature Nigeria. When it is convenient for the north, it will criticize Buhari. It will vent its frustration in Kano against him for raising the hand of someone they rejected. They would haul insult at him from Katsina for his inability to crush the bandits. They would boo at him in Borno for the incessant terrorist attacks. The north will wail and yell when they slave under the crucibles of inflation, an overtaxed economy or arbitrary hike in fuel price and electric tariff. They will bewail their lack of roads and other social amenities. But they would rather have a Buhari, for all his inadequacies, than to have a southern agitation that would pressure the government to make good their campaign promises for the good of all.
Moreover, I have cited the example above to pave way for the clarification which I seek to make about the hysteria from the north. It is not hard to see the connection between their provincialism, their hypocrisy and their hysteria. Unfortunately, all these factors have come together to rub us all of an opportunity to demand a better deal for the nation. This hysteria at a moment when all that is required is capacity for critical thinking and sound judgment, has cost the protesters everything.
It all started when the clerics began to doubt the intention of the #EndSARS protesters. They became hysteric, calling it a sinister move to deride the president. One cleric took it a notch further by saying that it is a calculated attempt to over-throw the regime. Yet another said it is an tempt to replicate the Arab spring so as to achieve the same objective of removing the president and handing over our collective patrimony to the West! The nauseating Fulani group was on hand to accuse the south of a deliberate attempt to terminate the dream of the north to perpetuate its hold unto power by 2023. One Idris Ahmed, a PhD holder in Conventry, UK, typifies the Abba Kyari temperament: possess all the exposure and degrees and remain bigoted. He continued to influence his followers by his posts on Facebook, filled with the same narrative that the protest was all an attempt to overthrow Buhari.
For the life of me I could not see how these excuses justify the hysteria. But that is enough to rouse the minds of the youths drawn from that herd of uneducated, less critical lot to serve as the attack dogs of the north against the voices of agitation from the South. The north has betrayed the country and sided with our oppressors. The north has, once again, has held us back. It does not want to move forward. It does not want others to move ahead, because of her provincialism, her hypocrisy, her hysteria. Or what do you think would have happened to these politicians, if the voices from the south had resonated with the ones from the north?