I was absolutely jolted by the aforementioned back page column, written by Sulaiman A. Sulaiman, published in the Daily Trust newspaper of 16 August, 2021, in which he had shed some light on the major underlying drivers aggravating inenarrable sweeping abject poverty throwing northern Nigeria into a deplorable state of quandary. That enthralling column has indeed made me obliged to have my say concerning the pathetic alarming circumstances of abject poverty striking the region.
To begin with, that absorbing column made me misty-eyed and jogged my memory of the seventh Secretary-General of the UN’s quotes, Mr Kofi Annan, when he once said.” Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere”. Hence, looking into the current petrifying situation of ineffable wide-ranging abject poverty across the North which is riddled with a myriad of bewildering array of vulnerabilities, increased crimes, extremism and other cumbersome challenges, we must concur with Mr Kofi Annan’s words.
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The current abject poverty of the North has indeed something to do with the parochial and autocratic leadership of our unpatriotic egocentric leaders who are not oriented to look out for basic needs of their people and areas that deserved to be prioritized so as to save northerners’ bacon.
To be frank, the northerners are also to be blamed for their fastest growing population of the region as it is indeed the leading driver of the current petrifying abject poverty across the region being compounded by overwhelming cancerous corruption of egocentric political leaders. This scary overpopulation is the one that breeds a multitude of cumbersome challenges of environmental problem that include conflicts of lands, loss of species, shortages of food, famine, deforestation,, health issues, outbreaks of illnesses, pollution, depletion of resources, massive rural migration, extreme poverty or hunger and incessant hazardous far-reaching climate change.
In fact, the general well-being for the masses is undoubtedly among the bedrock principles of the pristine democratic government of which elected leaders are supposed to embrace so as to display the act of servant leadership designed to make difference in the lives of their people or improve the standard of living of the masses. Few days ago, when the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo traversed across the country said, “The scary thoughts of the ever-increasing population kept me awake at night. The first cluster is: how are we going to feed this exploding population?”
Due to bad governance and delinquency of the entire elected political leaders of the North, the region is now on the verge of being swallowed by the frightening insecurities as a result of their incapability of providing the entire 17 SDGs of the UN for their people. How our elected political leaders are recklessly handling the issue of the North’s fastest-growing population now is a gigantic threat for the region, not the overpopulation itself. They are absolutely duty-bound to be servant leaders and take advantage of the high population like China by making it productive.
Without mincing any words, democracy has undeniably shattered northerners’ illusions as their elected political leaders voted with their own hands in the North had deviated from the pristine democratic principles and its ultimate immaculate goals. It is incumbent upon those elected political leaders to exhibit servant- leadership, but unfortunately they play possum with northerners’ ineffable abject poverty in order not to deliver felicitous services that will positively affect their lives and eradicate their scary widespread poverty.
It is vital to comprehend that those diligent youth of rural areas whose arable land is gradually turning into barren soil as a result of climate change being compounded by insufficient financial support from their three tiers of government and members of the two legislative bodies, had no any option other than to trek more than ten miles a day to urban areas as nail-cutters, shoemakers, phone-accessories sellers to cater for their basic needs and their families. The authorities of the North are the ones to be faulted for their delinquency to address the far-reaching environmental issues coercing those youth into flooding to urban areas.
Despite the fact that the region is indeed endowed with over 70% of uncultivated arable lands capable of fostering irrigation farming, but it is unfortunate how the region is leisurely sinking deeper into a bewildering array of cumbersome challenges of insecurity, extreme hunger, abject poverty, food insecurity and massive unemployment.
Besides, those young women roaming the streets and selling fruits, groundnuts, beans cakes, pure water sachets and others in the North, had no choice other than to do so since their desolate mothers and those forlorn women that have been pushed into pathetic state of widowhood by incessant brutal invasions of Boko Haram marauders, bandits and other conflicts, had no any source of income to cater for their children.
The gender and income inequality is also another gargantuan challenge that exacerbates the widespread abject poverty in every nook and cranny of the North. The women of the region are of course making up about 50% of the labour force, but unfortunately, they are extremely poor members of our society. The tenacious culture has trapped so many women in their homes and been abused by their heartless spouse.
I will conclude by citing the former president of South Africa’s words, Nelson Mandela, who once said, “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest”.
Mustapha Baba Azare, writes from Alkali Musa Street, Bauchi State,