A great and notable disparity exists between northern Nigeria with Sir Ahmadu Bello and northern Nigeria without him. We are disintegrating as the NEW north is dysfunctional and not working in terms of our expectations as the OLD north under Sardauna. Surely, the OLD north existed for constructive growth and collective construction, while the NEW north exists for self-destruction ONLY.
Under Sardauna, the OLD north was a living reality meant to be ahead of its time. Sardauna was extremely ambitious and possessed all the political resources to uplift the overall interest of the north above his personal interest. He did this to build a strong and united people. He was in a haste to bring about unprecedented human and physical developments through masses oriented policies and programmes with long-term bearings. Sardauna passionately offered more than what was expected of him through political entrepreneurship, sagacity, value-added and performance-driven leadership. He supported his viable leadership with people of proven integrity. He established formidable institutions to advance the noble cause of the region. For him, power was never an end in itself but a means to end. He was acknowledged and honoured as a faithful servant to his people driven by great passion for social reformation.
Sardauna’s north was a huge success and a single family organised and coordinated to get the best regional outcomes to move forward. Deploying an elevated and elaborate leadership style and a sense of sincerity and vision, he believed in the greatness of northern Nigeria more than anything else. His unflinching sincerity of purpose had given him the absolute mandate of being a compelling and reliable leader with a formidable force and multi-purpose agenda. That was why he preferred to be the first premier of the north to being Nigeria’s first prime minister. How many contemporary northern politicians will make a similar political sacrifice for the sake of the north?
Sardauna’s politics had its beginning with full force but was not allowed to end for the overall benefits of the north and the country in general. Though it was tragically terminated when his selfless services were needed more than ever, he left footprints that will continue to be recognised and appreciated as long as the world exists. To attain that remarkable feat, he discarded political opportunism and cheap popularity by embracing political dedication and frankness. His faithfulness to his people had uplifted his awesome personality to live beyond his demise.
That was how his name became very famous and continues to be remembered even after his brutal assassination. He had a big and beautiful dream for the north as a regional power which, if actualised, would have extended its massive fortunes to the country in general. Unfortunately, it was unfulfilled as it was destroyed by the reactionary elements. He lived and died struggling for our prosperity. Those who came after him could only exploit the north’s political might to aggrandise their ego-centrism.
If leadership is all about impeccable character, its development and impacts on the people, the late Sardauna’s character was superb, unrivalled and could hardly be contested. If leadership entails protruding and prolific charisma, Sir Ahmadu Bello was very charismatic and politically powerful and intimidating to particularly people with false political attraction. Above all, if leadership is all about vision, Sardauna’s diagnostic vision for the north was meant to stand the test of time. Sardauna’s north had only one political and regional mandate: all-encompassing development and all-inclusive north through selfless service. This was the greatest lesson he thought and bequeathed to us. Sadly, we have remained poor students of that lesson and have since abandoned the north, struggling for self-aggrandisement.
That the north is no longer real north is worrisome. Sardauna led and showed us the right path to progress by shunning materialism. But after his departure to the great beyond, what is specifically mind-boggling is our resolve to trade in regional hypocrisy for socio- political gajns. The north has been converted to a mere regional commodity from a regional power potentiality by the opportunists. They gang up in different forms for regional exploitation to achieve personal gains. These anti-north elements have never cared for the north.
The collapse of the OLD north was the beginning of our predicament of the NEW north. The foundation of justice and wisdom Sardauna laid for our survival was destroyed after his passing. Our north has plundered its immense political resources. If Sardauna’s north was a breeding ground for a regional actualisation, the current north is breaching the good works of Sardauna. We can no longer pretend that we are not in disarray. Our future is doomed. We are jittery of interrogating ourselves such as, where are we now? Where do we want to be tomorrow? Indeed, the life of the NEW north is changing for the worst. Who is afraid of calling a spade a spade?
We are enmeshed in economic depression. Agriculture as the mainstay of our economy is rapidly dwindling as bandits have occupied our fertile lands, destroying our economy. 58 years after Sardauna’s demise, the north is no longer itself in terms of economic vision and well-being. Abject poverty is rampant and we are still not ready to fight it. See our empty economic domain, there are neither plans nor policies. In many northern states, the governments have been pre-occupied with misplaced priorities that will not augur well for the economy to address lingering poverty and insecurity.
For more than 10 years, we have been passing through security depreciation. Banditry is striving in the North-west, insurgency in the North-east, ethno-religious conflicts in the North-central. There is blood everywhere. There are uncontrollable sorrows and pains. Life has lost value and meaning. The north is its own enemy and killing itself. The north is its own victim and its own failure. It is the architect of its own woes. The true friends of the north are neglected and despised. They have genuine identity but we are too selfish to identify them.
We shall continue to bear witnesses that Sardauna left an enduring legacy of a passionate leader. His unforgettable legacies will continue to be a difficult test for those who parade themselves as northern leaders. Will they follow the Ahmadu Bello way as the only way for the north, the only way for our survival and progress?