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Between ‘old North’ and ‘new North’: Remembering legendary Sardauna

Eventually, a wide gap exists between northern Nigeria of Sir Ahmadu Bello and today’s northern Nigeria. We are now living in a NEW north that…

Eventually, a wide gap exists between northern Nigeria of Sir Ahmadu Bello and today’s northern Nigeria. We are now living in a NEW north that is blatantly obnoxious and dysfunctional vis-a-vis our great expectations as the OLD north under the iconic Sardauna. While the OLD north conspicuously existed for constructive growth and regional consolidation, the NEW north functions for self-destruction and regional retardation.

Sardauna’s OLD north was a regional and living phenomenon meant to be ahead of its time. To actualise this, Sir Ahmadu Bello was extremely ambitious and deployed all the political resources at his disposal to boost the overall interest of the North above his personal interest.

Having created an organic northern interest, he was in a haste to bring about unprecedented human and physical developments through masses-oriented policies and programmes with long-term bearings. Sardauna passionately offered more than what was expected of him through political entrepreneurship, leadership sagacity and performance-driven services.

His viable and inspiring leadership was supported and deepened by people of proven integrity. He established formidable institutions to advance the noble cause of the region. For him, power was never an end in itself but a social system towards achieving collective end results. That is why he is still acknowledged and honoured by history as a faithful and political servant to his people whose extreme desire was redemption from the shackles of perpetual retrogression.

Sardauna’s North was a huge success and a single family organised and co-ordinated to get the best regional outcomes to move forward. Deploying an elevated and elaborate leadership style and a sense of sincerity and vision, he believed in the greatness of northern Nigeria more than anything else. His unflinching loyalty of purpose had given him the absolute mandate of being a compelling and reliable leader with a formidable force and northern agenda. That was why he preferred to sacrifice political interest at the national level for northern interest when he opted for the office of the premier instead of the prime minister. Who can show me a contemporary northern politician that will make a similar sacrifice for the sake of the North?

Sardauna’s visionary government had its full circle truncated, not allowed to end for the overall benefit of the North and the country in general. Blame the reactionary elements for the handiwork. His brutish killing and his contemporaries marked the beginning of Nigeria’s lingering political and ethno-religious predicaments. Nevertheless, he left behind everlasting footprints that will continue to be recognised and appreciated by people of conscience as long as the world exists. To attain that remarkable feat, he discarded political opportunism and unnecessary cheap popularity. We still remember him because his unwavering and awesome personality lives beyond his demise.

Why is his name still famous even after his brutal assassination? He had created a big dream for the North to become a regional superpower, which, if actualised, would have extended its massive fortunes to the country in general. He did not create any dream of amassing ill-gotten wealth and boycotted all forms of self-indulgence. In the end, it was established that he lived and died for us.

In the end, Sardauna’s loss had no restrictions. It will continue to be a loss to many generations. Unfortunately, those who came after him could only exploit the North’s political might to aggrandise their ego-centrism while we continue to fall apart.

If leadership is all about impeccable character, its development and impacts on the people, the late Sardauna’s character was superb, unrivalled and could hardly be contested. If leadership entails protruding and prolific charisma, Sir Ahmadu Bello was very charismatic and politically potent and intimidating to particularly people with political dislocation and false attraction. And above all, if leadership is all about vision, Sardauna’s diagnostic and holistic vision for the North was meant to stand the test of time.

In a nutshell, Sardauna’s North had only one political and regional mandate: all-encompassing development and all-inclusive north through selfless service. This was the greatest lesson he taught all of us. Unfortunately, we have remained poor students of that consummate lesson and have since abandoned the North to stand by itself while we perpetuate the unholy campaign for self-aggrandisement.

Gamji’s North was real but today’s North is unreal, a shadow of its former self. The OLD north was able to convert even disasters into opportunities. In the NEW north, however, we turn opportunities into disasters. That is why banditry is striving. That is why Boko Haram is existing. In the OLD north, obligations were a priority.  In the NEW north, our weaknesses are considered our strengths. Look at the menace of Almajiri. This is how today’s north has become defenceless, hopeless and voiceless. It is like a broken-down vehicle that cannot move forward.

We need nobody to remind us that our NEW north has lost its regional value and essence. It has plundered its developmental resources. We are in disarray. Our future is doomed. While Sardauna’s vision was the function of the puritanical heart, our NEW north is the function of notorious envy, hatred and regional plundering. We ought to find the right answers to the following questions: Where were we yesterday? Where are we today? Where do we want to be tomorrow?

Fifty-eight years after the painful demise of Sir Ahmadu Bello, nobody can dispute our overwhelming decadence and the indefatigable love and jingoism Sardauna demonstrated. Sardauna’s north was nothing but the cultivation of a ‘whole’ north. Indeed, there is bad news about the NEW north. The North has lost value and meaning. The North is fighting the North. The North is its own enemy, killing itself. The North is its own victim.

Our devastating reality is both conspicuous and ubiquitous. It is lamentable and dangerous. We have abandoned Sardauna’s north, the ONLY viable north. We are a frustrated people. We have lost the strong political will to face our escalating predicaments. The same bridge that Sardauna built to connect us with a bright future, the same bridge that would mix selfless service and dedicated leadership has been destroyed. The same bridge we ought to come together as a united and formidable front is now left asunder. Who cares?

Sardauna’s unforgettable legacies will continue to be the only panacea to our accumulated mess. Are we ready to follow the Ahmadu Bello way as the only way for the North, the only way for our survival and progress?


Abdullahi wrote from Ringim, Jigawa State [email protected]

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