Since the security situation in the Northern part of Nigeria became so alarming following the activities of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, a lot of reasons have been attributed to the emergence of this insecurity.
And many fingers have been pointed at poverty, which is largely seen as the remote and immediate cause of the impasse. But the question remains: Is northern poverty really responsible for the current unsecured situation in Nigeria? CHARLES KUMOLU writes.
ALMAJIRIS are paid as little as N300 to launch attacks. the north lacks infrastructure such as reliable power. Since the end of military rule much of the region has felt excluded from the system of patronage that fuels Nigerian politics.
When he acceded to the presidency in April last year, Jonathan broke the unofficial rotation of Christian and Muslim as head of state, poverty has fed Boko Haram’s ranks.” This was how an article titled How Poverty Fuels Boko Haram Insurgency published in an online news medium, Elombah.com, described the alleged link between poverty and Boko Haram.
The report which was written by Bavier, a member of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, said poverty has fed Boko Haram’s ranks. It is no longer a sect of Islamic fanatics but has the support of disgruntled politicians and their paid thugs.
This statement does not exist in isolation, neither does it raise the bar on most discourse on how poverty, may have helped in breeding the Islamic sect, given that many had in the past, factored in poverty as one of the reasons for the current insecurity in northern Nigeria.
But it has once again brought to the fore the age-long issue of poverty across the 19 northern states and its alleged role in the current insecurity. For a lot of people, any story on the activities of the Islamic sect, would be incomplete without looking at the role economic deprivation allegedly played in its emergence. Although this could be disputed, but those, who hold this view cut across different nationalities, tribes and religion.
Poverty at the core of Boko Haram crisis: For instance, former Lagos State governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had in his 2012 new year message to the nation, declared thus: “Poverty and want sit at the core of the Boko Haram crisis.
We must therefore create a system that will give people hope, not the one that breeds pervading hopelessness that has proven a fertile ground for religious extremists, who have turned our once peaceful and harmonious country into a huge slaughter slab. We must do everything in the New Year to remedy this tragedy.”
To a large extent, this message, underscored the hue and cry in many quarters that the level of socio-economic backwardness in the north, is responsible for the growing insecurity, VanguardFeatures,VF gathered’
And it has given rise to questions such as; is northern poverty a myth or reality; was this poverty created by the north or the Nigerian state; can a poverty free north solve the growing insecurity ravaging the region among others.
Indeed, what is called today’s northern Nigeria, it would be recalled, had its glorious days. This period was the era of the late Premier of Northern region and Saduana of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello.
During that era, Kano, the largest city in the North was the commercial nerve centre. The ancient town had Sharada and Bompai as bustling industrial neighbourhoods.
The city also had groundnut pyramid, this ensured that the North contributed 50.5 per cent to the national income. Also, Kaduna was the home of textile in Nigeria, and Kakuri was a thriving industrial layout. But the pyramids have long disappeared, just as Kaduna has ceased from being a textile hub and today the North’s contribution to national income is less than five per cent.
With this kind of situation, it is no surprise that most reports rated the region as the least developed part of Nigeria. Consider this verdict by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Under Secretary-General, Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations: