An alternative siren is wailing for the recovery of the North from its current heritage of violence based on conditions for that possibility that Honourable Yakubu Dogara, former Speaker of the House of Representatives has been spelling out today in Kaduna. Declaring the region to be on fire at an event by the Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, Honourable Dogara also expressed the worry that the region, as it is, is now trapped in a prison of mirrors, “where revealed lies are answered with new lies”. He is sure that the region is confronted with a crisis that is unparalleled in its history as to make the current situation a case of a slow motion to apocalypse as has been seen before in Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria.
Stepping back immediately, however, Honourable Dogara says the old region can rise above violence. He hinges his hope on the caliber of people in attendance, particularly the Sultan of Sokoto and some Clergy whose presence the Speaker invested much attention, saying that “They will have to take the lead”.
Taking a rhetorical route to make a serious critique of elite self-absorption, Dogara says the message should be loud and clear that “we have served ourselves enough, now is the time to serve others”, wondering if it would be too much to ask that all royal fathers in Northern Nigeria leverage on their powerful positions to build centers of excellence dedicated to skills acquisition, technology transfer and innovation in their domains? “Is it too much to demand that all Mosques and Churches in Northern Nigeria promote charities that cater for our needy and the destitute?
The voice privileged at the occasion would appear to suggest the return to work of the more sensitive, more inclusive rather than ‘puritanical’ and punitive segment of the Northern establishment.
Whether this is correct or not, Dogara’s siren wailed loud and clear: We are running out of time, he said, adding “It is crystal clear that the North cannot withstand the kind of contradictions that exist now. The North is on fire ignited by us either by our actions or by what we permit or allow. Those who truly love the North must now come out and accept responsibility and begin the salvage mission bearing in mind Professor Andrew Haruna’s warning, “that the North was handed over to us in one piece, we must therefore not pass it to our children in pieces”.
Isolating just Kwara State and the FCT as the only part of the old North that can be said to be relatively peaceful, the ex-Speaker posted a regional conflict profile defined by Boko Haram ISWAP led by Albarnawi to Boko Haram led by Shekau and Ansaru insurgency, to farmers/herders conflict, banditry, kidnappings, ethno-religious conflicts, cattle rustling, etc, this profile being the basis of his earlier conclusion that “we are confronted with a crisis that is unparalleled in our history. The death spiral appears unstoppable. Increasingly, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish us from our enemies”. But the profiling was not over. The North, he also said, has become a society that is driven at its very core by the death instinct, “the instinct to annihilate and destroy rather than nurture and create”, leading to the region as an economic debris too conspicuous to be ignored.
How the North is now the epicenter and theatre of violence and what must be done to defeat the radical evil of violence before it swallows everyone up, insisted the former Speaker, is the question to be posed.
Honourable Dogara dismissed all analyses of the existing decay, saying they are symptoms of the real problem, identifying the real problem to be that “we have failed to provide leadership and organize a society that works for all”. Shooting further, he contrasted the old to the new North of violence, saying that problem started in the North when “we substituted the pursuit of justice for all for the pursuit of absolute order- basically whipping people into line no matter the grievance or level of discontent”. And that it was in doing so that sovereignty became no more than organised robbery in the absence of justice as Saint Augustine had said for all society devoted to order than to justice, reaping neither order nor justice.
In what must be the most intellectual and reflective intervention on the current crisis, Dogara returned to a Hegelian introspection that guns do not kill because the impulse to kill resides in the mindset that justifies pulling the trigger, hence his hinging the battle to build a peaceful North on a “battle for the minds of our people”. For him, the challenge is about beginning to urgently depopulate the pool from which youngsters are recruited into violence because, according to him, “if we cannot serve the poor, the destitute and those who are hurting in our midst but claim to be serving God whom we have never seen, we are nothing but pathetic liars”. The critical verve was continued as follows: We can transform our society if we are ready and willing to make the right sacrifice in serving others instead of serving ourselves. We must hold Government to account but we must never abandon our collective destiny to Government alone”.
He reserved the finger pointing segment of his statement on leadership failure because, in his opinion, “violence is taking roots because our leadership model has been exposed as a lie, an empty ideology used to satiate greed instead of addressing social inequality and injustice”.
He was also alert enough to add that there is a mistake everyone else is guilty of and which is folding their arms and waiting for governments at all levels to solve the problems. While awarding governments its own share of the blame, he, however, asks about what ‘we’ are we doing ourselves?, condemning mere worrying as useless.
There is no knowing what ripples Honourable Dogara’s speech would cause here and there but there is no doubt about it as being the strongest endorsement of the argument that lack of development and the current implosion after ten Heads of State of Northern origin is evidence that public good or designing the future are not the motivation for power among political leaders in the region after the Sardauna. Rather, as the argument goes, power for its own sake and its abuse is the driving force. It is not clear if protagonists of this position would exonerate the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who had deliberate Socialist consciousness. Honourable Dogara has no Socialist legacy known to the public but central to his argument here is the notion of inclusive development as a cure for implosion. It is either Jurisprudential Socialism or some moral depth is lurking in him.