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By Dan Nafada

History and culture of a people largely shapes their socioeconomic exploits. After Nigeria gained independence from Britain, each region had a focus to improve the lots of its people. The leadership of southwest pushed for quality education. It is no surprise that they have maintained pole position in most areas of education.

The southwesterners’ exploits for education transcends beyond the shores of Nigeria to institutions of higher learning in the UK and Ivy League schools in the US. The leaders of the southwest indeed planted a good seed for the people. Families of the southwest have keyed into that vision for a highly educated generation.

Unlike in the north, it is seamless for younger southwest Nigerians to jump into the big shoes of their forefathers that pursued quality education before them. No wonder you find lots of qualified professionals in various fields of endeavor making a name for themselves and carving a niche for the region.

Like the southwest, southeastern Nigeria had leaders that propagated trade in the post-independence struggle. This was pursued side by side quality education. Families in the southeast built business empires through a unique apprenticeship program referred to as Igba-Odibo.

It is a framework of formal and informal indentured arrangements between parties that ultimately facilitate burgeoning entrepreneurial communities within the Igbos. A documentary on this system titled the “The Hero’s Walk” was put together by Hero Lager and published on YouTube.

Like the southwest, the southeast has developed a niche for itself. The leaders have done well by nurturing an entrepreneurial culture for their people. No wonder you will find numerous striving businesses in commercial cities in Nigeria owned by respectable Igbo businessmen. Air Peace is one example and the region has every right to be proud of such ventures.

Northern Nigeria has over the years struggled to create a socioeconomic niche for its people. Unlike the southwest and southeast, the quest of the north to pursue modern education started a bit late.

Nevertheless, there are people of northern extraction who have done very well in their chosen fields of academic study. Post-independence, farming was predominantly practiced across the region. The proceeds from the agricultural revolution in the north were largely earmarked to develop infrastructure across Nigeria.

The groundnut pyramids of Kano were indeed popular and a source of regional pride. Unfortunately for the region, crude was discovered in the south south region of Nigeria and attention was shifted away from the relatively more tedious farming activities practiced in the north. Hence, the region has struggled for decades trying to find a socioeconomic niche for its people.

In the midst of the struggle, the region contends with record numbers of out of school children, widespread hunger and a feeling of hopelessness. No wonder the rate of insecurity in the region only gets from bad to worse. The region has consistently endured accusations of being a parasite that contributes nothing to the collective coffers of Nigeria.

In some instances, the region is blackmailed when discussions of restructuring come up. This is not a good thing for the north. What are the leaders doing about this setback which is largely shaped by its history and culture?

The states of Kaduna, Kano and Katsina share borders and all have expansive arable land. Imagine an economic blueprint is developed to start an agricultural project that will be jointly funded and managed by the 3 old states. An irrigation and good transportation network could be developed to support both wet and dry season farming.

The governments of the states could designate the farming area as a highly protected zone. Learning from how pipelines of global oil giants are protected in the south south, the farming zone could be closely monitored as a regional economic asset. Such an agreement would provide direct and indirect employment opportunities for the citizens of the 3 states.

This would improve the general security of the region, offer sources of livelihood to the people and gradually create a socioeconomic niche for the north. This could be a bargaining chip when discussions of national restructuring come up.

The common history and culture of the region will support agricultural practices among the people. In due time, the zone could be a hub of agricultural activities that can attract foreign investment, thereby improving the quality of life in the region. Ultimately, a more secured and socioeconomically developed north will mean a better Nigeria.

Dan Nafada writes from Abuja via

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