From the pre colonial era right up to the pre independence of Nigeria, the colonial masters loved and prioritised visiting the emirates and other socio-economic places in Northern Nigeria, more especially as the region is blessed with vast yet arable land for agriculture, and also the abundance of manpower.
Indeed it is on record that Kano, Sokoto and even Katsina states have at different times hosted different world leaders more especially from Europe and Arab nations.
Despite the region’s backwardness in Western education, and also its poverty level, yet European leaders always see it as one of the important regions in Nigeria, not to be overlooked.
For example, it was in Kano State that the aeroplane first landed in Nigeria, meaning the Aminu Kano International Airport was the first airport in Nigeria, but the airport received little or no attention by the past administrations of Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and even the present administration of Muhammadu Buhari. The issue of routes of the planned new National Carrier, Nigeria Air said it all when the Kano airport was mysteriously excluded.
In the past few years, many world leaders have visited Nigeria, like the former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who apart from Abuja, found time to visit Lagos and Sokoto in 2015.
From January to August 2018 alone, President Muhammadu Buhari has received three European leaders and other African leaders.
The first among the European leaders was the French president Emmanuel Macron, who met the president and signed agreements on many issues, more importantly as Nigeria bordered with four Francophone countries: Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic.
Soon after the French president’s meeting with President Buhari, he left for Lagos State, where he spent the night (nay in Abuja) and even inaugurated a shrine.
He didn’t even bother to meet with the northern governors who are suffering from the current insurgency in the Lake Chad basin, their proximity with the Francophone countries notwithstanding.
This shows how, unlike before, the world leaders are now gradually avoiding the north, with little or no concern from the northern leaders. Though one can spot the difference as the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode is hardly seen around the Villa for anything, choosing to rather focus on his primary assignment of developing his state, while the northern leaders are seen always in Abuja and going around the president with unexplainable gusto.
The British Prime Minister,Theresa May’s visit was also another sign that the north is no longer relevant to the European leaders, as she promised to support the Nigerian youth, and said Nigeria has the highest number of people leaving in abject poverty.
Bu I have been wondering as to where to get the answer as to why she only visited Lagos instead of the worst affected states when we talk about poverty? What surprised me was that the UK PM did not also meet any of the northern governors, and they didn’t even show any concern but that, rather they were the early callers at the APC caucus and NEC meeting always hanging around the president with pretentious smiles.
It is important to know that most of the northern governors are either in Abuja or out of the country, with little or no concern to their primary duties of providing infrastructures that the electorates can benefit from.
While the northern youth also are busy following politicians up and down, their counterparts in the South are there planning for their future.
The last visit was that of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose government signed two agreements with Nigeria in Commerce and Agriculture but surprisingly also, our northern leaders were conspicuosly not on ground. With the recent development, it shows that if the northern governors and leaders do not sit down and ponder on ways to develop their respective states, other states will keep developing and taking advantage of the Nigeria’s foreign partnerships, leaving them with the high population and high level of povery and underdevelopment.
–Bala, a broadcast journalist, writes from Abuja