There are so many areas where Africa’s largest and most dynamic economy derives its strength and one of these borders on geographic diversity. Is Nigeria a single country? If you ask me , frankly , I will say NO in block letters being a collection of many nations and quasi-independent city-states fused into one geo-polity each with its own tastes, proclivities, resources and problems.
The different ethnic nationalities that make up the Federation of Nigeria doubtless once compete with one another with the once glorious north losing its economic importance, dominance, and prestige to the south resulting from self-inflicted pains and misery ravaging the region via insurgency. Talents have since begun to flee the embattled region known for its gentler climes to the humid south as lives are being hacked to death by powerful dangerous powerful explosives. This forebodes nothing but grave danger to the biggest economic power house of the supposedly ”Dark Continent”
Time was when the great groundnut pyramid in the desert city of Kano served as a huge foreign exchange earner for the country. The desert cotton fields up north provided employment for people in the region but today the reverse is the case as the open arable fields transmute into battle fields killing the inhabitants of the region in their hundreds and thousands. Poverty in Nigeria today is better blamed on this and not the economic policies of government which has been trying to better the lots of Nigerians in that the wealth generated in the south is not enough to benefit the rest of the country considering the steady decline in oil prices.
Drift from the north to south’s semi-autonomous economic states has been on-going . This had happened many times in history before now. Some of these economic migrants were intercepted and swooped down on in the south east sometime ago and branded as terrorist although this claim was refuted by sympathizers who held contrary opinions and claims. The North which used to be the nation’s cultural centre , is steadily losing that title to the south.
For quite sometime now the South – the least populous region has rocketed ahead of the North as a high-tech centre. It has by far the highest percentage of workers more than 50% above the national average and the largest share of artisans in its workforce. The south owes this steady progress to nothing but peace and the once communitarian north must take their cue from this. Kano once the pearl of northern Nigeria remains distinct from the rest of the country. Long a lure for migrants from the south , it has slipped in recent times, losing not only population to other areas but whole industries and major corporations. Once youthful, it is experiencing among the most rapid declines of any cosmopolitan area in the nation. Yet it retains one of Nigeria’s oldest international airports and manufacturing factories in the whole of northern Nigeria. Kano a great cultural and religious centre achieved this then by her strong and stable government. But in the past, no state in Nigeria apart from Lagos and Rivers has displayed greater economic dynamism. This is one of the reasons why the inhabitants of the region must embrace peace.
Most remarkable of this would be the region’s demographic revival. Lives have been lost to violence and terror and expected to increase further if the trend continues. A few armed terrorists gang must not be allowed to put millions of lives in jeopardy. The strong pro-growth spirit in the region, its wealth in natural resources in the northern tier, suggest that the region will play a far more important role in the future dethrones the south as the nation’s leading economic power base , locus for trade and a cultural and business destination in the sub-region. President Jonathan’s pursuit of peace in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria will bring about economic prosperity and sustainable development and this requires our collective efforts.
The north which used to be one of the nation’s industrial heartland has haemorrhaged millions manufacturing jobs over the past 10 years of Islamist militancy in the region bringing untold hardships to its inhabitants . Have the natives ever pondered over this problem hand on chin? This problem is man-made and we have no option but to join forces with the present administration under President Jonathan to reinvent and regenerate the embattled northern province.
Iyoha John Darlington , aka Lington Donovan , a political activist and public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.
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