Every region in Nigeria has its peculiar sentiment issues. I chose to talk about northern sentiment because I can authoritatively do so without the fear of being sentimental.
The north is most interested in having a northern President rather than a Nigerian president. The only experience and qualification one needs to have the total support of an average northerner to become a president is “Alhaji” or “Malam” contesting against a “mister”. Now that the north is gradually burning, we want the rest of Nigeria to join us in speaking up because Nigeria now belongs to all of us. Most times when they do speak up, we will insult them for attacking “our” president or support those who do.
The rest of Nigeria is silent about our plight because they do not want us to refer them to the long history of how “their own” presidents were responsible for the same problem during their reigns. Do northerners even know that more northerners have died under northern presidents than southern presidents? Yes we do. We just do not care because we rather lose lives than lose power. In the course of winning a ‘fight’, we lose our sight.
Those we constantly prefer to lead us choose to invest in their private businesses than in our future and we do not care as long as their names are prefixed by “Alhaji”. For example, between Ibadan and Lagos alone there are more than 15 private universities while there could be more private media outfits in Lagos alone than in the whole of the northwest. Do not even talk about industries. Meanwhile, there are more filling stations in my state of Sokoto than you can find in Lagos and Ibadan, if I am not being hyperbolic about it.
To have a voice, the north needs to invest in education and the media as well as have functional, well-informed state governments. This is what states in the south do and while they produce ointment, we manufacture sentiment. The north, like all other regions, choose sentiments over priorities and the only excuse is “they too do it”.
A northern or southern president cannot solve our problems, a Nigerian president can. You can’t have excuses and results. Sentiments don’t solve problems; they compound them.