– A technology Hackathon in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Perhaps, the North should also be told that the pre-Sokoto Jihad mindset cannot work anymore. The Muslim world has moved on. Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam, has its citizens studying in the best universities in the world. And, the great citadels of learning have campuses in the Middle East… Several Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and the gulf states are literally driving hypermodernity in the world today.


Nationally, the high indices of underdevelopment are depressing. It becomes very dire and alarming when development indicators from the North are particularly spotlighted and examined. Data from multilateral agencies show that the North continues to get lower on the national indices of development, year-on-year. Consistently, the North-West and North-East are some of the poorest places in the world, and they are growing as an expanding crucible of ignorance, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, alongside high infant and maternal mortality rates. These two regions are demographic time bombs, given their low incomes per capita, child marriages, low school completion rate for girls and the unreasonable number of out-of-school children.

Who will save the North from itself? The truth is: No one but the North can, and they have a small window of opportunity to do so before they are consumed by self-inflicted crises. In December 2019, Jigawa State, with 800,000 out-of-school children called for bids to build 95 mosques, instead of 95 schools. That was neither reasonable nor modern. Together the North-East and North-West states have about 10 million, out of the nation-wide 13.5 million, out-of-school children. While Governor Ganduje of Kano is busy breaking beer bottles, there are one million out-of-school children in the state he governs. In the same Kano State, data from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) reveals the abuse of hard drugs by 70 per cent of the youth population. Kano and Jigawa States are the hotbed of drug abuse nationally. Without education, skills, and jobs, what these numbers portend is chaos, banditry and kidnapping. Given the statistics and manipulation feeding the atrocious outcomes, the North is the epicentre of poverty in Nigeria by design. That is why so much bluster and condemnations erupt when a voice of reason speaks against indiscriminate polygamy, child marriage and Almajirci.

The selfish and deliberate underdevelopment of the region by Northern religious and political leaders will take decades to correct, even if they begin a genuine effort at this today. The unholy symbiotic alliance between the clerics and the politicians is calibrated to manipulate religion and culture to devastating effects. The manipulation and brainwashing of the people through religion and culture have created a nebulous worldview and mindset that feeds itself and is difficult to change. Changing this mindset and worldview is serious work and it would take at least a generation to accomplish. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to this. There can be no social and economic transformation without commensurate human capital development.

For the political class, the politics of having a ready vote bank that can be tapped for political capital and electability far outweighs the egalitarian outcome of overall development. The need for relevance, power and control by the clerical establishment fueled their opposition to change. Personal gain by the symbionts overrode the public good.


Those of us concerned with development heaved a sign of relief in June 2019 when Babagana Monguno, the national security adviser (NSA) made an announcement that the federal government was considering the proscription of the Almajiri system, given the risk it poses to national security. He said, “This is very important because in most parts of the country we have a lot of children roaming around without any formal education. And as the president has mentioned earlier, we need to make education compulsory and free for every child in the country because the problem we face today are rooted in the fact that a lot of people who have been denied…basically the opportunity to get formal education end up… (as misfits), there is accumulation of large mass of human beings who end up becoming criminals, drug addicts and so on and so forth. And they end up becoming tools to be used by elements in the wider society who have very dangerous intentions…. And therefore, it is very important to proscribe certain groups running around under the guise of maybe getting some kind of education that is not really formal.”

Within hours, Monguno’s well intentioned and reasoned arguments were branded as a fight against Islam and a way of life. The outcry from the political and religious establishment was unmistakable and clear. The federal government then caved under pressure and abandoned the idea. The status quo remained. For the political class, the politics of having a ready vote bank that can be tapped for political capital and electability far outweighs the egalitarian outcome of overall development. The need for relevance, power and control by the clerical establishment fueled their opposition to change. Personal gain by the symbionts overrode the public good.

The social menace they have bred is threatening the peace and security of Nigeria… assailing Emir Mohammed Sanusi II and those who want a greater and better educated north is actually counterproductive. We need to look ourselves in the eye and tell each other the honest truth. This is not an attack on Islam.


It is time for the North to face the truth and fix its structural problems because no modern society can subsist on the structures they are perpetuating. The social menace they have bred is threatening the peace and security of Nigeria. Banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram are monsters of neglect that they created and nurtured. As such, assailing Emir Mohammed Sanusi II and those who want a greater and better educated north is actually counterproductive. We need to look ourselves in the eye and tell each other the honest truth. This is not an attack on Islam.

Perhaps, the North should also be told that the pre-Sokoto Jihad mindset cannot work anymore. The Muslim world has moved on. Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam, has its citizens studying in the best universities in the world. And, the great citadels of learning have campuses in the Middle East. Saudi venture capital is propelling biotech and technology firms across the United States. Several Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and the gulf states are literally driving hypermodernity in the world today. Truth be told: The North cannot fight development. It cannot fight civilisation. It is futile; it can only breed misery, underdevelopment and nasty social problems.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

Image credit: techradar.com.