Ali Abubakar Sadiq, Writes from Kano
Nepotism, one of the ugliest words in the dictionary, has been the root of most evil perpetrated on man against man since the dawn of civilization. In several instances it had been the seed that send down, in a rollercoaster fashion, great civilizations tumbling and withering away into oblivion.
The firstborn of nepotism is injustice which as it grows from infancy to maturity, turns around to haunt and eventually consume its host. History is replete with many episodes, which were unfortunately never heeded.
No country I know, founded on a shaky foundation of nepotism like my dear country Nigeria. It began when the colonial masters, in 1914, decided to marry the two strange bedfellows of Northern and Southern Nigeria into one entity called Nigeria.
The vast Sokoto caliphate founded by Usman Bn Fodio stretched from the sandy plains of the Sahara desert all the way to the Mambila Mountains, from the banks of lake Chad beyond the confluence of rivers Niger and Benue.
The greediness of the colonial masters blinded them not to see this vast territory as worthy of being a country of itself to colonize separately, considering it has an established political and administrative system that rivals that of the British Empire.
This first mistake breeds a costlier one as in amalgamation the colonials decided to favor the advance north in terms of political leadership over their counterparts in the south as the anointed ones to continue leading the union in the foreseeable future. Political and military structures engineered by the colonials favored the North, albeit covertly.
Our first crop of leaders arrived on the podium saturated to the brim with nepotic tendencies as the Northerners exult in the knowledge of being the favorite slaves of the masters while their southern counterpart looked at them with filled contempt having an edge over them in western education. Curiously, the first set of northerners to get access to western education all came from elite household, especially the traditional institutions.
A trend that continues with those pioneers paving the way for families and cronies get the juiciest positions and jobs from the region. Those elite dominate public service space and aggrandize public property for their own benefit to the detriment of the public.
The seed of our backwardness (nepotism) having sown will continue to be watered through the decades, costing over a million lives after the Igbo putsch and its counter from the Hausa’s that led to the civil war.
The three regional division of the country helped tremendously in sacrificing excellence at the altar of nepotism. Sardauna and peers having institutionalized nepotism, it in turn gave birth to another hydra-headed monster as soon as they passed away from the stage in the form of corruption.
All our problems can be traced back to the twin evils of nepotism and corruption which the northerners championed using military and political power to make it systemic. Despite some of the giant strides by Sardauna and co. the nepotic tendencies denies their successors in government to continue the legacy.
Any house built on shifting sand is bound to collapse. From independence to date, there isn’t a military or political leader of the country that wasn’t accused of nepotism and rightly so. Dangiwa Umar recently berates Buhari’s administration of nepotic tendencies, forgetting that it was people like him and his boss (IBB) that strengthened it to a point of being endemic in the military (and political life).
The Gwandu prince was, as a very young military officer (major), appointed as the governor of the most powerful northern state of Kaduna when the whole northern military establishment is based in Kaduna boasting of tens of generals.
We are so blinded to the ills of nepotism that you can see Sardauna being celebrated and acclaimed through nepotic anecdotes. Only God knows the shower of curses I may face for the sake of saying Sardauna and co were to blame for our current situation. As I said earlier, nepotism begets injustice and with it no society can ever know peace.
In our case nepotism entrenched corruption in all facet of our lives and as long as we do not fight it wholeheartedly it is bound to consume all of us. By mere looking around, every Seeing Eye could notice how corruption is destroying us slowly. I thought the Covid pandemic will knock some sense into our leadership to understand that everything is fleeting as only justice prevails.
Few weeks ago Abba Kyari was the most powerful man in the country and not more than a month later he is completely forgotten and even what he did in life was being reversed in death by his own principal that considers him the alpha and omega of his presidency (to a point that even ministers must be vetted by him to see their principal). Unfortunately my assumption was very wrong as Covid has done nothing but fueled their greed and corruption.
This week the President submits to the national assembly a reviewed 2020 budget and you will be surprised to know that the 37 billion Naira proposed for the renovation of the National Assembly complex, which even before the pandemic had created furore, was still in the budget and reviewed downward to 27 billion (a 25% cut).
The National Assembly complex is one of (if not) the most beautiful and maintained edifice in the country. Curiously amidst a pandemic (which from all indications we haven’t reached its peak yet) the budget of primary health care was also reduced from 69.9 billion to 25.5 billion (42.5% cut).
Universal Basic Education budget, which suffered over three months of lock down, instead of being beefed up to regain loss time, was slashed by a whopping 54.2% ?(from 111.7 billion cut to 51.1 billion).
The federal character in civil service and zoning in political appointments defeated the spirit they are supposed to uphold. No sector has seen the blatant abuse of nepotism as the security apparatus. Remember the Abacha days when the key security operatives were even mainly from Kano.
During Obasanjo, Yar’Adua , Jonathan and Buhari, key appointments reflects who is in charge at the top. One cannot grasp the extent of nepotism in appointment until when you peep into the NNPC.
As of today the GMD, the Chief Finance officer, Chief Operating officer Corporate Services, Chief Operating officer Gas and Power, Chief operating officer Refining and Petrochemical, Secretary/Legal Adviser, GGM International Energy relations, GGM Renewable Energy, GGM Governance Risk and compliance, GGM NAPIMS, MD Shipping, MD PPMC, MD NPDC, MD Duke oil/NNPC Trading Company, MD Port Harcourt Refining and Petrochemical Company, MD Nigeria Gas Marketing Company, MD Medical Services, Director DPR and MD Gas and Power Investment Company are all of northern extraction.
The worst manifestation of nepotism in the north is, as Mathew Kukah recently said the southern thief is better than a northern one, considering most of the beneficiaries never appreciate the privilege to steal or acknowledge legitimate favor as God’s blessing so as to render, no matter how little, back to their societies.
Among the top elites of the NNPC above, two I know very well, never offer a scholarship to poor fellow family members let alone to their community.
One bought a house in Abuja for his brother in law but couldn’t buy a small car for his nephew. I believe the story is similar to many of those big wigs not only in NNPC but in all sectors of northerner’s life. They believe neither the society (on whose back they ride on) nor God (as they don’t truly believe in his justice) could hold them responsible for anything.
This led to a generational decadence in northern elites to kill excellence and upholds nepotism which resulted in this generation the rise of Boko Haram, Bandits and kidnappers. With the recent agitation of banning almajiranci without mapping out any plan for re-integration only God knows what catastrophe awaits the north in the nearest future.
Someone recently shared to me a story of Abolarin College in Oke-lla in Osun State operated and funded by a King solely for brilliant poor kids whose parents cannot afford to send them to ANY school.
Those kids in the boarding school were provided lodgings, food, uniforms, books and even laptops with free internet for free throughout their stay. This story makes me wonder about our former Emir, Sunusi Lamido, whom I believe could be far richer than this anonymous King, yet I have never heard of his scholarship let alone a school in Kano.
Dangote and Abdussamad, two of the richest Nigerians doesn’t have scholarship or private Universities or start up funding (it reminds me of their junior in the billionaires club, Tony Emelu). Therefore among the three regions of the country, the north seems to be the only place where nepotism murders altruism.
The Academia, which should have been our savior, is by far worse off. Knowledge is no longer sacred to be pursued on its merit as it is projected to be meal-ticket and nothing more. Professors connived with politicians to steal elections in broad day light.
Research in our universities is none existent, the life giving spirit in the academia is dead, long gone. Sardauna’s first and biggest credit for the north is the establishment of ABU Zaria with its largest Agriculture department, which could have made the north the power house of agriculture in the continent. Unfortunately our river system and dams lie in waste as we are crowned a poverty center in the world.
As the vicious circle of nepotism and corruption continues to rotate around all aspects of our national life, our problems will continue to develop mutant power of transformation until when we could collectively rise up to the challenge and retire nepotism before it kill us for good.
Ali Abubakar Sadiq
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