Ahmadu Shehu, PhD
- The people of the Niger Delta region (let alone the southwest) do not align with the Southeast in politics and administration
- The Southeast is only hiding behind the shadows of other regions in the south to claim prosperity
- The Southeast sits on one of the country’s most infertile, erosion-prone lands, is the smallest and most overpopulated region leading to congestion and resource scarcity
- None of the southeastern states – despite the 12% derivation funds – is wealthy enough to pay salaries without the federation account
- Southeast is the main culprit in destroying Nigeria’s image and dignity in the international community
- People are dealers and distributors of fake, contraband medications and drugs in all the nooks and crannies of this country***
As we continue the inconvenient conversation on Biafra and what it portends for the Southeast and our country, I find the need to clarify some insinuations raised in the troupes of comments and rejoinders that trailed my previous articles. But, before proceeding, I must commend many southeasterners for their dispassionate contributions and insightful perspectives.
However, although critical, some of the comments have missed salient truths that need further explanation. This will help our generation avoid past mistakes committed mostly by overzealous politicians, leading to avoidable wars and near-disintegration of our dear country.
There is this illusion that conflates southern Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta, with the Southeast or “Biafra”. The truth is that the people of the Niger Delta region (let alone the southwest) do not align with the Southeast in politics and administration.
For the information of our youth, the first secessionist war in Nigeria was fought between Niger Delta activists under the leadership of Isaac Adaka Boro and the Nigerian forces led by Chumeka Ojukwu, who later became a secessionist himself.
The three phases of Ojukwu’s career: from a defender of Nigeria’s unity at the battlefield to a rebel against his own country and later a senator and presidential candidate for the very country he fought to disintegrate should tell discerning minds that there are many faces to the idea of Biafra, none of which is the common interest of the Igbo people.
Please permit me to be blunter here. As far as our contemporary political and economic realities are concerned, the Southeast is only hiding behind the shadows of other regions in the south to claim prosperity. In other words, when our Igbo brothers call the northerners parasites, lazy or Abuja-dependent, they are actually borrowing the glory of the Niger Delta, and probably Lagos State, to abuse others. Because in reality, the contributions of the Southeast in the so-called feeding the nation is not as significant as they may like us to believe.
If you doubt this, let’s ask a few questions on the most critical sectors of the Nigerian economy. Since 90% of Nigeria’s foreign income depends on crude oil, what is the contribution of the Southeast in the two million barrels Nigeria makes per day? Very little is the answer. For, out of the nine oil-bearing states in Nigeria, Imo and Abia are the only southeastern states, accounting for an abysmal 1.6% and 0.68% of the total crude oil produced in the country. This is very negligible, as far as the numbers in this sector are concerned.
The Nigerian GDP, which is the bedrock of the economy and the source of non-oil revenue, primarily comes from agriculture. What is the contribution of the Southeast to agricultural production? The numbers are even more insignificant here. It is unfortunate that except for the oil-spilt Ogoni land, the Southeast is Nigeria’s least agriculturally viable region. Most states and local councils in the Southeast are not food sufficient.
By the nature of its geography, the Southeast sits on one of the country’s most infertile, erosion-prone lands. It is also the smallest and most overpopulated region leading to congestion and resource scarcity. It is no coincidence, therefore, that no one buys farm produce from there. Conversely, we see tons of raw food and livestock being transported daily to feed the region.
Some people may argue that the economic strength of the Southeast lies in its profoundly robust revenue base generated from industries and MSEs. They further postulate that the region contributes the most to the Nigerian revenue basket, albeit without evidence. Well, all the regions of the federation contribute their fair share to the federation tax revenue. However, the evidence available proves that the Southeast is neither the highest contributor nor is it self-reliant.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Southwest and South-South have the highest IGR per capita, and the Southeast is at par with North-Central, followed by Northwest and Northeast. None of the five southeastern states appears close to the top ten high revenue-generating states. Like any other northern state, none of the southeastern states – despite the 12% derivation funds – is wealthy enough to pay salaries without the federation account. Thus, one may ask: what kind of entrepreneurship and economic prosperity we are talking about here?
The fallacy behind the overestimated economic contribution of the Southeast is just one of the many problems. For instance, more than once, our country’s unity and cohesion are put on dangerous edges, thanks to the secessionist tendencies of the Southeast. Instead of forging ahead and pursuing alliances and friendships countrywide, the region and some of its people have continued on the path of division and segregation. The hatred propagated against anything and anyone perceived to be anti-Biafra has been phenomenal.
Furthermore, the Southeast is the main culprit in destroying Nigeria’s image and dignity in the international community. The Nigerian passport, which commanded respect a few decades ago, has become a suspect document worldwide. This unfortunate degradation of national identity and pride is the handwork of Nigerian drug pushers, physical and internet scammers, illegal migrants and human traffickers, most of whom are known to be southeasterners.
The same people are dealers and distributors of fake, contraband medications and drugs in all the nooks and crannies of this country, particularly in the North. This has always been an open secret and has been made even more vividly evident by the recent successes of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). The dangers these portend to our national development and global recognition is unquantifiable.
Therefore, if the above is true, claiming that the North is a mere burden on the Nigerian federation is absurd. For some, this might be based on ignorance, while for others, it is a deliberate attempt to malign and stereotype the region for reasons best known to the perpetrators of these dangerous narratives. But, whatever the motive is, we must recognize that all the federating units cause shared burdens to our national growth and development.
Since the North’s limitations and other regions have been overstretched in our national discourse, I believe it is equally important to remind our brothers in the Southeast that they are no less a burden than the other regions. As Nigerians, we should prepare to share both the positive and negative consequences of the actions and inactions of our fellow citizens. But, this is only possible when all parties acknowledge their limitations and are ready to embrace one another. Nigerians are siblings of a single family that are more alike than different. The earlier we accept this truth, the better.
Dr Ahmadu Shehu is a nomad cum herdsman, an Assistant Professor at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, and is passionate about the Nigerian project.
Adamawa: CDD Joins Awareness Campaign Against Gender-based Violence
As part of activities commemorating 2023 16 days activism, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has sensitized Adamawa people on Violence Against Women and Girls VAWG.
The sensitization exercise begins with road walk from Bekaji roundabout to Jimeta modern market, Yola-North Local Government Area on Wednesday.
Mrs Amina Auwal, the team lead who spoke on this year’s theme: Unite, “invest to prevent violence against women and girls” described the commitment of stakeholders as the symbol of unity against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the state.
She urged stakeholders to unite and reduce the rate of GBV in the state.
“This VAWG is like a cancer, it is eating up the community gradually but when it has been cut off completely we will have society free of GBV.
“We appreciated the CDD for sponsoring the programme of being able to sensitize the public to bring to an end the menace of VAWG”, she said.
Mrs Rose Zinas, Desk officer GBV, National Orientation Agency (NOA) urged parents, guardians and stakeholders to take advantage of the theme of the year and to invest on women and girls-child.
She said these would help them to have something doing to reduce over dependent on husband’s and parents as well as end violence against them.
Zinas called on the women to also be proactive in looking for something doing and not to be a liability.
In her remarks, Lubna Dodo, representing Federation of Women Lawyers Association, FIDA appreciated the contribution of CDD in the fight against GBV in the state.
She explained that the mission of the road walk is to create awareness on the theme of this year activism.
“This means invest by educating the girls-child and empower them with the knowledge and skills to succeed in future.
“These will go along way by reducing their vulnerability to violence anywhere they find themselves “, she said.
Dodo further said that the passage of Violence Against Person Prohibition (VAPP) law and Child Protection law as well as ongoing sensitization for implementation have also help in reducing the rate of GBV in the state . News Hunter.
Adamawa Govt Approves 42km NYSC Camp – Borong Road Project
By Muhammad B. Muhammad
The Adamawa State Executive Council Wednesday approved reconstruction of 42km road stretching from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp in Damare to Borong community.
The feeder road project which covers the 2 LGAs of Girei and Demsa will cost over N836m.
The State Commissioner of Education, Dr Umar Garba Pella disclosed this while briefing newsmen shortly after the council meeting that held in the Government House, Yola.
Dr Pella said the project was awarded to Hydro Source and Resource Nigeria Limited and has the completion of period of 12 Months.
The Commissioner further disclosed that the council has approved over N117m variation for the construction of modern laboratory at Specialist Hospital, Yola.
Pella explained that the project was initially awarded at over N578m adding that the variation was to cover the cost of increased price of building materials.
The Wednesday’s 8th 2023 Council Meeting was presided over by the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
Bauchi SEC Approves Construction of 2 Flyovers , 200KM Roads
Bauchi State Government has unveiled a plan for the construction of sixteen strategic roads worth about one hundred billion naira across the state.
The project also comprises two flyovers at the busiest areas of Wunti and Central Market to beautify and decongest the city centre.
These among some other rural roads construction project across the state’s three senatorial zones were part of the resolutions made during State Executive Council Meeting presided over by Governor Bala Mohammed.
Some of the project that make a total of two hundred kilometers include two point six kilometers Sabon Kaura Birshi Gandu road, four point five kilometers Zango-Gwallagan Mayaka access road, one point seven kilometers Bayara township road, rehabilitation of Disina-Adamami road in Jama’are local government area and Dualization of A.D Rufa’i College to Misau town road among others.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the commissioners of Works and Transport Ibrahim Galadima and his counterpart of Special Duties and Rural Development Faruq Mustapha said the projects have been awarded to confitent contractors in line with developmental initiative of Governor Bala Mohammed led administration.
Also during the meeting, the Council has ratified and approved for upgrading of four palaces of Emirs of Bauchi, Ningi, Jama’are and Dass at sum of two point two Billion naira under the State Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The commissioner of the ministry Ahmed Sarki Jalam said the move was to creat a conducive environment for the traditional institutions to discharge their duties.
The council has also approved a memo for the 2024 Medium Term Expenditure presented by the commissioner ministry of Budget and Economic Planning Aminu Hammayo as well as a memo presented by the commissioner of Commerce, Trade and Investment Mahmud Baba Ma’aji on the preparation for the forthcoming Northeast Joint Trade Fair in Bauchi State.
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