Contrary to popular opinion, the practise of quota system and feeding bottle federalism, where the states’ resources are collected by the federal government and shared every month between them and the federal government, does not favour the north. The idea that the lowering of the standard of education for northern children and persons, is an unfair advantage over other regions of the country is not really what it seems. In our University admissions, the required score for persons from Northern states is usually lower than what is required for the Southern students. The goal, as we have heard and read in so many places, is to enable the north catch up with south educationally. The intention behind it is good but it misses the point.
The point is to raise the level of education in the north and not to leave the north perpetually backward. Experience and psychology have shown that when you lower the standard or aim, when you set a target that is as good as failure, when you base intelligence on a mediocre platform, you will never rise above that standard. That is what happens and has been happening to the society that endorses Quota system. The same thing goes for the resources collected from few states and shared between all the states and the federal government. On the long run, resource control will benefit the north more. What this current system of federalism does is to create a dependency problem that makes it difficult to be productive.
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Niger State, by land mass, is twenty(20) times bigger than Lagos State and three times the size of the South Eastern states combined. Imagine the productivity that resource control will stimulate in Agriculture if implemented. Imagine the large Nigerian market its produce is accessible to. The truth is, if every state is ‘coerced’, through the implementation of resource control, to feed itself, northern Nigeria will benefit more. Secondly, if quota system is removed from our educational system, the students from the north will be at par with those of the south. Raising the standards have a way of improving people. As long as there is Quota system, the south will always be intellectually, educationally and healthier than the north. This is not a figment of the imagination.
If Quota system was healthy and bridged the educational gap between the south and the north, if quota system helped the people of the north why is the north still backwards by all development standards? If Quota system solved the educational problem it was created to solve why are there more people from the north out of school? What we fail to see is that this system has made illiteracy fashionable. It has given intellectual laziness a platform to operate on. Humans naturally love to have things done the easy way. We love to have success easy. People love to have things done the easy and fast way. When you create a system that rewards laziness and easy acquisition of benefits, you are not bridging the gap but widening it even further.
My brothers in northern Nigeria, like I said before, as long as you keep quiet to the existence of this system, as long as you assume you benefit more from it, sound education and competency will elude you. There are evidences to support this position. The evidences show that the north is lagging behind all others in all indices of human development in Nigeria. And quota system, rather than lift the conditions of the people in the northern region, creates for them a good avenue to exercise and nurture these poor values responsible for dwarfing the region. It is true that state governors in all sections of the country are not doing fine. It is true that there is a degree of backwardness in every state in Nigeria. And it is also true that the mindset of the people of northern Nigeria is partly responsible for how they conduct themselves.
Quota system is also responsible for creating this mindset. Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations lamented on the level of immunization of Children against dangerous childhood diseases in the north. According to Professor Gambari, the South-East has 44.6% immunization coverage, but the North-West has 3.7% and the North-East 3.6%.” It is alarming and he called for deep reflection. Both the North-East and North-West have a combined coverage total four times less that what was gotten in the east. If the north and south have the same bad leaders, why is the north more backward? What encouraged its level of backwardness? Simple. The idea that no matter how poor you perform, no matter how dwarfed your work seem, there is a place for you. Quota System.
Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, some weeks back, was quoted to have said: “This over dependence on allocation from the centre must stop if we are to progress. We have the population, we have both human and material resources; but we must have the political will to do the right thing.” Masari is very correct. Dependency is a position of weakness, in this case, economic weakness. And what this implies is that the economy of the north or a dependent state can never be determined by the north or the dependent state but by the state supplying the national cake. Whenever the supplying state experiences an interruption in the flow of its wealth, then there is an interruption in the performance of the receiving state.
This is not just directed at Northern Nigeria but the states in general. A control of the resources of the state by the state will help the state decide its growth pace, utilise and maximize the potentials of its citizens. The land mass of the north will play a huge role here. Borno state with its large size has the natural resources Diatomite, Clay, Limestone, Hydro-carbon (oil and gas) Partially investigated, Gypsium, Kaolin, Bentonite. Kaduna State has a landmass 46,053km³ and abundant in the natural resources, Sapphire, Kaoline, Gold, Clay, Surpentinite, Asbestos, Amethyst, Kyanite, Graphite (partally investgated), Silhnite, Mica (Traces), Aqua marine, Ruby, Rock Crystal, Topaz, Flosper, Tourmaline, Gemstone and Tentalime.
The current governor of Kaduna, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in April of 2016, claimed : “We have just confirmed that Kaduna State, indeed Birnin Gwari Local Government Area alone, has more gold than South Africa. This is proven, this is verifiable; we have all the data and we are collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals.” The economic powerhouse of the north, Kano State, with a landmass of 20,156km³, has the raw materials, Prrochinre, Cassiterite, Copper, Glass – Sand, Gemstone, Lead/Zinc, Tantalite. Nassarawa has Beryl (emerald), Asquamirine and Haliodor), Dolomite/Marble, Sapphire, Tourmaline, Quartz- Amethyst (Topaz, gamet), Zireon, Tantalite, Cassiterite, Columbite, Limenite, Galena, Iron-Ore, Barytes, Feldspar, Limesstone, Mica, Cooking coal, Talc, Salt, Chalcopyrite. There are more but let’s just stop here.
How can people with such enormous resources and land mass be made to believe that resource control is not for them? Are the people aware of these enormous resources or is it a case of lazy governors, afraid of putting their brains and hands to work, promoting the idea that a Nigeria with resource control will not favour them? The north has the land. The north has the resources. The north has a population of loyal people. My question to those who keep repeating that the north or any other region will not survive restructuring is, how did the people in this region survive before Nigeria was formed?
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Once quota system is removed from our system, the north can compete with the south in terms of education and this will reflect on the standard of living. Because quota system dwarfs the mind of the person involved, because it strips them of the desire or motivation to aim higher, it must be discarded to create way for a smarter and healthier north. The north too is full of many natural resources and a large land mass. These two could be put to good use and better the lives of the people. You can’t have the work force, the land mass and the natural resources and still oppose the idea of resource control. And when you do, you are leaving your destiny in the hands of another person.