Some of the statistics coming out from the Northern part of Nigeria are really heart breaking, worrisome, and cause for alarm. Indices showing level of poverty, number of school dropouts, adult literacy, maternal mortality, infant mortality, income per capita, rate of divorce, etc. are issues needing swift and head-on tackling. Most of these indices are worse than those of many countries facing wars and conflict for many years.
While a plentiful portion of the northern populace that make up those indices are disconnected from most of the discussions going on, some portion live in utter denial and abhor any discussion or debate centring on the problems. On the other hand, a scintilla portion of the society that are concerned and worried, discerned the situation and draw attention by warning about the impending dangers the statistics point to, and the keg of gun powder we’ve been sitting on.
Some of the solutions offered range from; reducing birth rate, regulating marriages, imposition of free and compulsory education, provision of better health care facilities, employment generation through massive investment by government and private section, revival of moribund industries littering every corner of the North, etc. These proposals, even if implemented, possess the potential to provide ephemeral solutions. This is true because the approach to the problems is from a superficial standpoint. To arrive at a permanent result, some of the aforementioned solutions need to be merged with an in-depth and thorough understanding of a typical Northerner’s mind set.
In a very conservative North, for religious and social reasons, advocating a limit on birth by linking it to poverty will definitely suffer acceptance. Moreover, the vast natural resources in the north can be tapped by its teeming population for economic prosperity. But for the fact that we’ve been producing unproductive people, we view population growth as a menace. Productive countries like China, Canada, and Germany are already adopting measures to thwart the effect of staggering decrease in youth population on the future of their economies. The idea of free and compulsory education will still not offer desired outcome. For some distorted religious reasons, the mind set of an average and typical northerner is averse to western education. In a nutshell, what we have turned ourselves into is a people that lack taste for knowledge in general.
Concisely, our real problem is rooted in poor parenting that’s a product of our distorted view of life, religion and entirely being comfortable with an inferior and a below average standard of living. As a society, it looks like we’ve lost focus and are in disarray and constant Brownian motion. Even the most affluent among us can be so careless and clueless in regards to proper upbringing of seasoned, ambitious, and productive wards that can compete with their counterparts from other regions. It’s so sad that so many parents in the North are themselves in need of parenting. Even with a single child to carter for, they will still groom an unproductive and unambitious child that contributes nothing to the community and the nation in general. Contrary to what most people think, the Almajiri problem is more to do with parental negligence and Ideological beliefs. Surprisingly, so many rich farmers and business men still enroll their children in the Almajiri system.
The time for the north to have a rethink is now. The time to collectively restore our lost image is overdue. The time for political, community and religious leaders to join forces and massively sensitize us on the need to change our mind set cannot be further from now. As a community, the time to stop being comfortable with a mediocre life and aim beyond the stars must be now.
Yahya Idris, Kaduna.