There is an uncharitable narrative being bandied on some platforms from Southern Borno to the effect that the region’s elites of yore did little to improve the plight of the people.

As such they should bury their heads in shame. While the younger ones that are not towing the line of the collective denigration and budding “revolution” are referred to variously as; slaves, stooges, sycophants, bootlickers, betrayers, saboteurs, defenders of the status quo, crumbs eaters, etc.

And their crime? Holding a different perspective on issues affecting the region. What an infantile approach to issues and a cheap warped blackmail to get people into ill defined political and ethno-religious orbits and clichés! A voyage of conviction is premised on ideologically molded moral rectitude and the capacity to inspire and not the ability to throw tantrums at both real and imaginary voices of desent.

And to take some people’s dignified silence as lacking in response or concurrence. Unfortunately this ugly trend has become the defining feature of many platforms, with some flirting with such fanciful catch phases as fighting for the “liberation” “unity” and “transformation” of Southern Borno.
Diversity may have constrained the elites and indeed the people of Borno South for long, but history tells that they have made and are still making greater marks in terms of quality of life in comparison with their more homogeneous counterparts from Central/Northern part of the State. Especially when judged by the State’s development indices regarding education, health and even adventure.

To use Southern Borno people’s inability to elect a State Governor as a measure of failure is not only mischievous but naive. It also represents poor sense of history and appreciation of the comperative living standards of the ordinary folks of Northern/Central Borno extraction with those from the South. The same assessment could be extended to the quality of lives in the rural areas of the two regions. This comperative advantage was achieved via the efficacy of Western education, and the positive roles played by the elites of the time, in propagating same. Elites that are now called upon to bury their heads in shame for being “visionless”.

In the 1920s while other parts of Borno were resisting education, the elites and traditional leaders we paradoxically referred to as “visionless” accepted it and made the region the bastion of education, manpower and enlightenment with the attended income so derived from. Today, the variant of poverty in Southern Borno is less desperate than elsewhere in the State. Thanks to a more equitable income distribution so earned to educational and other related endeavours. An educational movement that started with such humble Native Authority (N.A) schools in Gwoza, Biu, Lassa, Askira, Uba, Kwaya Kusar, Kwajaffa, Sakwa, Marama, Dile, Tampul, Chibok, Ngulde, Damboa, Miringa, Gunda, Ngoshe, Kirawa, K/Bura, Sakwa etc that were soon to be joined by the CBM Missionary schools in Garkida, Marama, Shafa, Waka, Uba, Lassa, and many more.

The impact of these educational initiatives in unqualified terms has been the envy of sister communities. And those who made it possible .The very people that are now being termed visionless. Maybe as “visionless” as those revolutionary figures who used education and mass literacy in the Soviet Union, China and even capitalist America to transform their respective societies. A model that holds great appeal but being poorly mimicked. Furthermore, in the late 60s, (1968 to be precise), the Biu the Native Authority/Federation (with Askira and Shani), among few others in the North pioneered the establishment of Community Secondary Schools.
The Biu Community Secondary School became a reference point in the whole of the then North Eastern State of Nigeria. The products of that school are out there contributing their quota to national development. That feat was achieved by the elites and leaders we now consider “visionless”.

Down the line, the forces of history and Military politics worked unfairly for the Southern part of Borno as the region ended up with only nine (9) LGAs out of 27 in Borno State . A structure embeded in the 1999 national Constitution. The series of exercises that led to the development was done through fiat by the Military. And maybe along with some privileged local elements. To even get this 9 LGAs it took some efforts, protests and lobby on the part of the past “visionless” elites/leaders from the region. Some of them are of blessed memory while others are still alive.

For instance at one time Biu and kwaya kusar were lumped together as one LGA. So was Shani and Hawul. It was the separation of the two sets, plus the creation of the Bayo LGA that brought the current number of LGAs to nine in Southern Borno. Bayo, for security reasons (Biu-Gombe Emirates border frictions), allegedly took the slot of a LGA that was to be curved out of Gwoza LGA.It took the efforts of patriotic citizens and various Community Development Associations (CDAs) to get the two sets of the paired LGAs separated and new ones created, thus bringing the number to nine. That struggle almost cost some citizens their career progressions in both the state and the federal services. Some almost lost their lives. Today people have luxury to call such people “visionless”

Of recent the proposed Savannah State has been ranks among some of the most viable and favourable proposals for states creation. Putting up the proposal has not been a smooth sail but the determination of those involved made it possible, on more than three or four past occasions. The last outing being in Bauchi recently.Through it all, the aspirations of the people of Southern Borno to have Savannah State never dies. Ironically it was the role of the “visionless” elites/leaders that keeps the vision of the Savannah State alive and never wished away.

The Nigerian Army University (NAUB) Biu, the Federal College of Education (FCOE) Gwoza, the Urban Renewal in Biu etc were all facilitated by the elites add to the efforts of Southern Borno elites past and present. Elites, that are now referred to as “visionless”.

Development is a process with wide latitude. It is also infinite with enormous room for all to play a part, be it incremental or revolutionary. However in fast tracking the process, imagination should be stretched and intelligence employed by the very individuals and groups who volunteer to build on the past. People perform better when they move from the known to the unknown, so says wisdom. A.G.Abubakar agbarewa@gmail.com


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