By Sani Mohammed
“I can’t but say it is an awkward sight to see one’s native land receding through the growing waters; it unmans one quiet, especially when life is rather new.” —Lord Byron
There is no place like one’s native land or country. It is one’s best alluring place of shelter or retirement in life and even in death, after all worldly adventures. All the niceties life has bestowed on you streams from the blessings and protection of one’s place of ancestry.
Ordinarily, everyone sacrifices everything including his personal life, where possible to protect or glorify his native land. Jamaican legend, Eric Donaldson reminded humanity decades ago about the beauty of one’s land of birth; in the song titled, “This is the land of my birth.”
And the lyrics pays glowing and positive salutations to virtues of Jamaica, his homeland. It is pregnable with lessons for Nigerians, especially the tycoons of the Northeast region.
The Northeast region has been infested with Boko Haram and the latter-day infusion by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) terrorism for more than a decade. It was caused by the insensitivity and greed for political power by some politicians in the region.
However, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been able to arrest the scourge of Boko Haram terrorism substantially in the past four years. But it is not yet uhuru!
The people of the Northeast are still on the verge of savouring total liberation from Boko Haram as remnants of terrorists are still on the prowl. Ostensibly, the Boko Haram/ISWAP influence in the region is not as bad as obtainable in the past.
What is incontrovertible and every Nigerian can attest is that insurgency in the Northeast has caused appalling magnitude of devastations, destructions and ruination of cities, communities and villages in the Northeast. It has reduced most parts of the region to rubbles.
Schools, markets, shopping malls, hospitals, farms, private houses and lots more have tasted the arson and violence of Boko Haram terrorists. With the restoration of reasonable peace and security, the scars of war inform beggingly that the Northeast is in dire need of reconciliation, reconstruction and rebuilding. The surviving victims of Boko Haram/ISWAP deserve compassion.
The Buhari Presidency has launched initiatives in this direction, prominent among them is the establishment of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) as answer to the development needs of the war-torn region. The President invested an initial N10 billion start-off funds into NEDC. But by every nuance of assessment, it is like a drop of water in the ocean. Government will continue to sustain it.
Surprisingly though, leaders of the Northeast region; very and influential in business and leadership are contented with the posture of aloofness in the rebuilding process of this region. Almost everyone of them has not sensed the compelling need to assist the Federal Government of Nigeria to finally obviate the residues of terrorism in their native land.
The indifference these wealthy businessmen and women have advertised on the insecurity and destruction of their land by Boko Haram confounds infinitely. How Boko Haram metamorphosed into ISWAP is what should concern them.
Nevertheless disappointingly, the tycoons of the Northeast are the least pricked[TNNP1] by a humanitarian instinct. Like King Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned, the tycoons in the Northeast prefers to indulge in merriment elsewhere while their land burns to ashes.
The Northeast region parades over 10 billionaires on world’s top ranking of richest or influential men. Personalities like Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Mele Kyari, Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, Ambassador Babagana Kangibe, Sen. Ali Modu Sherrif, Gen. Bulbwa Marwa among others hail from this region. It is shameful that they unconcerned with the plight of their traumatized and ruined people.
Cory Booker once said, “Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen. We don’t always have to agree, but we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.”
But regrettably, these billionaires and influential men from the Northeast are more comfortable to pleasantly to watch their country homes burn down to ashes without any assistance to the people. It is hard to believe, much as it runs against any vestige of wisdom or brotherhood.
Some of these tycoons have business investments in the same region. But even the demands of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has not invoked any empathy in them to deploy such instruments to assist their distressed kith and kin nor bring peace to the Northeast?
It is strange that these Northeast tycoons have not deemed it necessary to also intervene in the rebuilding and reconstruction process of the ravaged Northeast in any way to give back to their constituents, a small portion of their enormous endowments. This does not happen in other climes.
The traumatized people of the Northeast are deserted at the hour of need by their own people. Why has none of the tycoons thought of extending humanitarian support to victims in order to help them rebuild, new homes or shops destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency? Have they contemplated empowerment schemes for idle youths in order to divert their attention from Boko Haram or other criminal enterprises?
It is saddening that wealthy and influential Northeast men and women have abandoned whatever it will require to breath fresh life into a once boisterous region to government, philanthropists outside the region, foreign countries and Non-Government Organizations’ (NGOs). But it must be brought to their notice that insofar as the region remains a ghost of its former self, they have also deprived themselves of a peace of mind.
This is heartless to say the least. Yet the tycoons confront the same neglected when seeking political power or favors’ and preach assorted platitudes of redemption. This current posture is akin to desecrating the sanctity of their native land or mocking their ancestors who tethered them in an unbreakable fraternity. These Northeast influential men and women should have a rethink and retrace their steps. Can they hold their heads in high esteem they meet their peers in other regions?
It is instructive for them to endeavor to learn and apply the wisdom of former American President, Abraham Lincoln who said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
If the task of rebuilding and reconstructing the ravaged Northeast region is not all-inclusive, it may take a dozen years for the region to have a semblance of an ideal life. Let God Almighty touch the hearts of these tycoons from the Northeast to do the needful, by exploring areas of intervention to fully recover their native land from the fangs of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism.
Another former American President Theodore Roosevelt reminds that “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” The Northeast tycoons have a moral obligation to champion the crusade to fully regain their native land from lost glory, Boko Haram and ISWAP.
Mohammed is a field researcher for the Centre for Africa Liberation and Socio-Econmic Rights ( CALSER).