A University Don, Malam Bala Mohammed, of the Faculty of Communications, Bayero University, Kano, has accused the Igbo of being responsible for the drug abuse prevalent among youths in the north. He was reported to have made this wild claim of “unscrupulous Igbo drug dealers as brain behind the scourge” while presenting a paper titled “Nexus between youth, drugs, crime and insecurity” at the Kano Youth Summit on Peace Advocacy and Development, organised by Hamisu Magaji Foundation, at Mambayya House, on Tuesday, 3rd of April, 2018.
Such assertions as this are irresponsible, callous, wicked and deliberately woven to exculpate northern elites and shield them from taking full responsibility for the high, well documented and almost irreversible moral decadence of northern youths under their watch.
One wonders why a university don would condescend so low as to attributing the horrendous failures of northern leaders and elders in instilling discipline in their youths to another ethnic stock when it is obvious that those who go about hawking fake, expired, unapproved and hard drugs in the open markets everywhere including in Igboland are young men of the Hausa/Fulani stock.
What do the northern elites expect when their region is notorious for the highest number of children running into millions in the country without a home? It is not the fault of the Igbo that the north boasts of the highest number of illiterates not only in Nigeria but also in the whole wide world! Does Malam Bala Mohammed not know that such level of illiteracy comes with a price? Does he and his co-travellers on this infamous road of constantly blaming others for their own self-inflicted woes expect that their youths would be engaged in decent acts even when they are deliberately denied education and proper parental upbringing by their elites?
As at 2011, the then UN Under Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the United Nations, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, had during the Northern Nigeria and Economic Summit in 2011, in Abuja, lamented this situation when he said, “On Health and Education, the level of immunization of Children against dangerous childhood diseases, in the South-East is 44.6% immunization coverage, but the North-West has 3.7% and the North-East 3.6%. If you take the education of the girl-child as indicator, you see similar pattern of inequality with the South-East having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-West having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-South 75%, while the North-East 20% and North West 25%”.
The continued dismal performance of the north on immunization as in other areas of life is not surprising. When children are left to roam the streets homless and hopeless as we see in the north everyday, who takes them for immunization?
In a data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in 2017, it indicates that Yobe State, for example, has the lowest literacy level of 7.23% in the whole country followed by Zamfara (19.16%); Katsina (10.36%); Sokoto (15.01%); Bauchi (19.26%); Kebbi (20.51%); and Niger (22.88%) respectively. Compared to Ebonyi (77.76%), Imo State (96.43%), Abia (94.24%), Anambra (92.11%) and Enugu (89.46%), one understands why northern elites feel threatened by the Igbo and would always want to give the good people of the southeast a bad name in order to have them hanged!
When one further considers the fact that Yobe State with nearly two times less (2.8 million people) the population of Imo State (4.7 million), according to the 2014 population estimates, received N30.59bn from federal allocation in the whole of 2016 compared to Imo State that received N29.85bn in the same period even though Imo has more population to cater for than Yobe State, one is bewildered at how northern elites are deliberately impoverishing their citizens by denying them education, keeping them in perpetual poverty and disease, making them easily vulnerable to social vices that are natural consequences of such neglect only for them to turn around to find easy targets in people of the southeast to blame for their own calamities.
Rather than lament about their precarious situation which is driving the north against itself while their southern counterparts have continued to make the best of the meagre resources that the skewed sharing formula has forced on it, the north would do well to look at themselves in the mirror and do an honest soul searching on why it has remained the most backward, illiterate, diseased and poverty-stricken of all the regions in Nigeria despite the monumental resources it has cornered for itself over the years at the expense of the other regions.
For example, according to data sourced from Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, “In (about) 10 years, 2007 – 2016, successive northern governors have received over N12 trillion in federal allocation on behalf of the 19 states and its 413 local government areas excluding FCT.
The breakdown of the allocation from 2007 to 2016 reveals that states in the Northwest, North East and North Central have received a total of 3trillion, N2.5 trillion and N2.2 trillion respectively. And out of the over N10 trillion allocated to the 774 local government, northern states have received more than 50 per cent of the funding.”
Furthermore, between 2005 and 2016, the federal government has disbursed N153bn to the 19 states in the north and N115bn to the 17 states in the south, yet, the north burdens the whole nation with its nauseating level of illiteracy and its unavoidable consequences. It is children from Igbo states in particular and those of the south in general who make unimaginable and heroic sacrifices by being continually denied admission into federal government colleges despite scoring very high marks at entrance examinations, after their parents and government invest heavily on them, just to give room for some of their street-roaming, drug addicted, homeless and directionless northern counterparts who score as low as just 2 in some cases.
When Bill Gates insisted that our federal government under a northern president, Muhammadu Buhari, has not done enough to invest in human capital despite the humongous amount made available to it for such noble venture, it was another northern governor in Nasir El Rufai who rose up stoutly to defend the obvious dismal performance of northern leaders in that critical area. What a shame!
Ndigbo are known to be everywhere, in Lagos, Edo, Oyo and such other places, carrying out their legitimate businesses. Why are there no similar complaints about them from these hosts? In fact, from their legitimate businesses, Ndigbo contribute greatly to the IGR of states they reside and do business in. Rather than lament and whine continuously, the north should find ways of making the best opportunities huge presence of the Igbo in their localities present to them.
Northern leadrs, elders and elites should put their house in order and stop blaming the Igbo for every of their avoidable self-imposed misfortune. It is not our fault that despite them having unfettered access to the political and financial capital of the nation for nearly sixty years, they remain the most illiterate, diseased, backward and poverty-stricken region in the whole of Nigeria!
By Jude Ndukwe