Yes, John Kerry Needed To See Northern Governors | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Yes, John Kerry Needed To See Northern Governors

Nnedi Ogaziechi
Posted: Aug 30, 2016 at 2:03 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ogaziechi Nnedi

America’s Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, was in Nigeria as part of his three nation tour of some African nations. He had audience with President Buhari and flew to Sokoto (the seat of the Caliphate) to meet with the Sultan, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar 111. The Sultan is the highest position of authority amongst Nigerian Muslims.

John Kerry also met with the nineteen Northern governors (three are Christians). However, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed displeasure with what they perceived as a one-sided visit by the highest foreign diplomat of the United States government.  To them, the Secretary of state ought to have met with the Southern governors and also the Christian body as, according to them, the Christian population have been on the receiving end of the insurgency activities by the Boko Haram sect and other Islamic extremists.

The Christian Association of Nigeria has every right to express their displeasure. However, the visitor neither came as an evangelist nor a politician. He came as a diplomat who was on a well-researched visit for his country’s strategic interests. The United States has been on a global war on terror around the world.

The Boko Haram insurgency has been blight on the image of this country and because terrorism has no borders most countries are trying very hard to fight the root causes of terrorism.

Focusing on those visited by Mr Kerry would be tantamount to throwing the baby away with the bath water. He had gone to the Sultan as someone who is the leader of all Muslims and if leadership around the world comes with responsibilities, the diplomat reminded the Sultan that for this war on terror to be successful, much is expected of him and the leadership of the Muslim community in Nigeria.

They must begin to address the core roots of insurgency; ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, radicalisation, lack of responsive and responsible governance at all levels and the biggest of them all, lack of education for the girl child because it is a known fact that when you educate the woman, you educate a nation.

Secretary Kerry probably needed to remind the governors that it is the actions and inactions of Northern governors in the past that contributed to the creation of an army of restive youths who have lost their humanity to the point of visiting such bestial acts on the system.  

The sight of malnourished and dying men, women and children that we gleefully refer to as ‘Internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) and who are having the worst lives ought to be cared for by these governors who have interest only in wearing babaringas and smiling to cameras, forgetting they have a duty primarily to secure lives and properties of these citizens. The emergency of the moment has not been reflected in the way they have been addressing the issues of the IDPs or even ensuring an early rehabilitation.

Americans are aware of the implication of all these governance gaps and John Kerry needed to pass the message to the Northern governors and the Sultan.

For years now, Nigerians of all faiths, tribes and creed have had their lives turned upside down by the activities of the insurgents while northern governors have been playing the Ostrich.

In climes where governance truly matters, we ought to know the statistics of their citizens affected by any disaster, natural or man-made as in this case truly matters. How many of the states affected by the insurgency have a finger on the statistics?

Ironically, when it is time for elections, these same politicians would come up with figures of those they claim voted for them. They are always quick to bandy electoral numbers but fail the same citizens when they ought to give them dividends of democracy.

The insurgency has thrived in that region because the level of illiteracy and ignorance is staggering; and for states that have had several educated governors preside over their affairs, it is amazing that they cannot relate the value of education to human development especially in the area of social orientation.

Mr Kerry needed to meet the Sultan to advise him that leadership, both in religious and in political terms, comes with huge responsibilities and that the Muslim leadership ought to feel scandalised by the ease with which extremist ideologies are spread under their watch. He needed to remind them that if they had the practice of Islamic religion under firm grip, a hate ideology like Boko haram would not find root in Nigeria.

The Northern governors and the Sultan probably needs the top representative of the American government to tell them the value of education for all but especially the girl child who when armed with education can raise informed children who cannot fall to the bait of those who discourage western education.

The sheer number of IDPs in the North and their plight in a country as blessed as Nigeria does not require a Kerry talking to CAN members at this point. A Kerry would have been alarmed at the number of malnourished children in these camps when there are sitting governors and it was important by the standard of American diplomatic engagement to openly express outrage especially when they need to account to their people who are aware of their country’s contributions.

The President, the Sultan and the Northern governors need to realise that beyond lamenting for aids and calculating how many bags of rice the IDPs are consuming, there are serious expectations from all of them. The youth of the region need education, employment, responsive and responsible governance to assist in arming them for the future instead of serving them on a platter to those who take advantage of their ignorance and deprivations.