By Ndi Kato
I refuse to put my elders through this.
Through the pain of remembering each injustice meted out against them with each derogatory word aimed at lowering them to a level they were constantly pushed to.
I refuse to put my elders through the stress of responding to words they are older than; because I know that my elders have outgrown these words. Not that my elders have ever stooped to the bottom of the verbal barrel but they have outgrown having to listen to it or acknowledging it.
I refuse to let them expend any form of emotions on these tantrums so I will do it myself. A young woman from the Middle Belt who was born years after Professor Ango Abdullahi served as Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University will respond to this and if Ango Abdullahi wants to keep descending beyond this, the old gentleman is welcome to by all means… I love the idea of dancing naked in the market square; it is amusing to us onlookers.
I grew up witnessing crisis after crisis in my region with the mass murder of people I hold dear being at the centre of it all; I am now almost in my 30s and there is no change, NOTHING! We are still losing lives for any reason at all and the reasons are thrown at us with no second thought because THE LIFE OF THE NIGERIAN, INCLUDING THE LIVES OF MY PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE BELT HAVE BEEN GREATLY DEVALUED.
My elders had to live through occupation of their land under the pretext of this “Northern Unity” Ango Abdullahi speaks of, many did not get to the expected apexes of their careers, many sacrificed their dreams and the dreams of their people for this unity; Mr Abdullahi should be all too familiar with this. It is worthy of note that a man with such a mindset was once a Vice Chancellor of a Federal University and any serious country would investigate his tenure and the treatment of people who do not come from his region. How were students and lecturers from other parts of Nigeria treated? Did you wake up thinking that two Southern lecturers shaking hands in the morning were planning to destabilize the school to topple you as VC? Did you go into your office with thoughts of how to dismiss them in a fit of paranoia? Your utterances beg the question. Every single time we see statements from you, we are tempted to review your actions.
Moving forward, Ango Abdullahi referred to us Middle Belters as “Our Middle Belters”; a region so tired of bloodshed, a region trying to reclaim itself is still referred to by Mr Abdullahi with a sense of ownership. When did we become “Our”? A professor knows all too well semantics and the politics of words; he didn’t just say it, he meant ownership. Sir, it is 2018, feudal behaviours have no place here. No region owns another. If no one else will tell you, I will.
Here is where it gets even more troubling, Ango Abdullahi was asked if he was trying to justify the herdsmen killings and he maintained “I AM JUSTIFYING IT VERY STRONGLY BECA– — USE HERDSMEN ARE BEING UNJUSTLY TREATED IN THIS COUNTRY”.
Let us look closely at what Ango Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of a Federal University in Nigeria is justifying.
• Continuous mass murder of Nigerians spread from Zamfara to South East, South West and South South.
• A breakdown of law and order which Senator Kabiru Marafa cried about in the senate where these armed groups have constituted themselves an authority over the populace, operating as a mini government while terrorising the people. THIS IS THE CASE IN ZAMFARA.
• Pending starvation and shortage in food production from farming communities who can no longer sustain the Nation because their farms are now death traps.
• Erasure of the culture and entire heritage of Nigerians who have to flee their communities and are often replaced by these attackers who end up settling after displacing the people.
• RAPE: YES!!! Ango Abdullahi’s response said he was justifying these actions strongly. I know Ango Abdullahi reads the news, I know he knows of the young girls and women kidnapped in Zamfara during these attacks. I know he reads about the women raped and killed in Plateau and Southern Kaduna YET Ango Abdullahi STRONLGY JUSTIFIES THESE ACTIONS.
• He justifies theft, kidnapping and armed robbery too.
• Ango Abdullahi justifies the killing of policemen; last week one of the policemen had his eyes and other vital organs gouged out. Ango Abdullahi thinks this is right.
• The displacement of 100s of thousands of Nigerians and the Nigerian government dealing with IDP situations that the Nation’s present economic situation and policies are not equipped for.
• Ango Abdullahi justifies widespread insecurity in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
What Ango Abdullahi is thus saying is that if he feels within himself that he is not being treated the way he wants to, He can turn Nigeria upside down as he pleases and that is EXACTLY WHAT HE IS DOING WITH HIS WORDS.
Departing from my region, let us look at his words in the context of the North seeing as he is the spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). The same North the good people of Zamfara State belong to. I do not know how the people of Zamfara are coping at the moment, suffering this unfathomable pain of murder, poverty by way of horrendous leadership and a complete lack of representation by the people who should stand in for them; How are they coping knowing that the spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, THEIR OWN ELDERS think that the attacks against them are justified? Zamfara state suffered meningitis outbreak, no word from their elders. The rest of the nation watched as meningitis ravaged part of the North with the government doing little to nothing and BLAMING the people saying their iniquities brought this upon them. Hunger and strife has visited the people now more than ever and NO WORDS, NO INTERVENTION FROM THE ELDERS. Add all these to the complete disregard for the life of the average Northerner by those who should protect them and then we can discuss who is playing politics with what. And now we have the SPOKESPERSON OF THEIR ELDERS FORUM SAYING HE JUSTIFIES THE KILLINGS AGAINST THEM. Did the babies slaughtered in Zamfara in your own region attack anyone? Why do you, Ango Abdullahi think they deserve to die?
This was to be in response to Ango Abdullahi for his paranoia laced, derogatory comments against other parts of the country but I cannot help but cry out for the people under the Northern Elders Forum, the people of the North who are suffering and dying while the likes of Ango Abdullahi play politics with their very existence and beat the drums of war knowing very well that neither he nor any of his descendants will be here to dance to the tune.
I have searched through everything and every bit of history and I cannot see what the people of Northern Nigeria have done to deserve this kind of leadership; it is unacceptable for any region that intends to survive and stand a chance at growth; AREWA DESERVES BETTER!
Someone has to speak up for the North as others are rising up to speak up for their own people and represent them in a civil manner. Someone has to say that Arewa deserves better from the people they consider leaders, someone has to say that the life of the average Northerner who is a poor man trying to get by matters, someone… ANYONE, has to stand up and say this deliberate underdevelopment by the leaders in Northern Nigeria should be switched for a better deal. That the schools and the hospitals should be built better, that there is a drug problem that needs fixing, that young boys and girls should be given proper education. That policy and research centres should be set up and that maternal mortality should be given a very near future exit date.
SOMEONE HAS TO SAY THESE THINGS and as it stands, Ango Abdullahi and the era, the mindset and social construct he represents IS NOT THAT PERSON.
THIS IS NOT THE REPRESENTATION THE NORTH DESERVES.
Leaders from other regions are not perfect but at least you can see efforts and remorse and an effort to right missteps and patch the leadership vacuum facing our ailing nation not parading ostentatiously at a time like this.
In conclusion, regions coming together to celebrate friendship with each other is not your problem. Celebrating murder is not what you were put on earth to do; God frowns on it. We are a nation facing an existential crisis and all well meaning leaders are standing up to see how they can stabilize things, it is a shame that this is what you have to contribute at a time like this.
I did start by saying that I will not let my elders go through the distress of responding to what you have said and I will end by calling you to order and reminding you of the duty you owe Northerners as an elder and that is sensible leadership at a time like this not drumming the beat of war.
Wisdom is profitable to direct.
Ndi Kato is Coordinator of Public Communication for the Middle Belt Forum.