Bad News from North: Children are growing WITHOUT developing! -Abdu Abdullahi

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.
Frederick Douglass

What is it again that borders on the terrible situation in the North?
Indeed, there is another sad news filtering the air affecting Northern
Nigeria ! It is bad news only if it is accorded the prominence it
deserves by all and sundry. It is not news to be ignored and rendered
prosaic by people of conscience and Pan Northerners alike. It is
sending a pathetic story of how our children, the leaders of tomorrow,
are growing without developing. It is warning us seriously that we are
getting prepared for more troubles ahead!!

Are we so adamant that we are only afraid of the sudden emergence and
consequences of insurgency and banditry that we are not scared of not
developing our children so that they will not be another generation of
bandits and insurgents? Are we so much lukewarm in behavior and vision
that we dispel the factors responsible for our insecurity predicament?

Undoubtedly, children are huge human resources and assets for tapping
to be good ambassadors of bright future and societal rehabilitation.
Make no mistake about it, they are like building blocks for
constructing a befitting house. Children are remarkable blessings
bestowed on us to raise and sustain our human values and essences.

Against the forgone therefore, we are collectively saddled with the
basic responsibilities of ensuring not only the growth of our children
but also oversee their positive development. Thus, it is imperative
here to distinguish between growth and development. While growth
refers to increase in physical size, development denotes a process of
gradual transformation. Accordingly, growth and development ought to
be simultaneously interwoven for our desired aspirations as well as
yearnings to be actualised. To build a strong and viable world and
life for our children, we must remain focused on their developmental
process. This is because development, unlike growth, is functional,
qualitative, organisational as well as life long activity that
culminates in a blissful living.

Contextually and clearly, the north’s numerous children are the main
theme of this piece. How do they fare? Are they developing or only
growing? If they are only growing, what will be their future and the
fate of the region they represent? Who is responsible for their
development? You can ask as many questions as possible as long as your
thoughts on our children remain constant, firm and mind-boggling.

For the sake of clarification, a worthy attempt shall be deployed to
get the authentic concept of the term child, from which children are
derived. According to the UNICEF, ‘ a child is any human being below
the age of eighteen years.’ With this, we are now rest assured of the
class of human beings we are discussing. More importantly, we are
looking into ‘ northern children’ in which it is hoped that at the end
of the presentation, significant lessons will evolve for necessary
actions and adjustments to save their living and the next generation.
But at this point, it is fundamental to make some striking revelations
on the reality of our children with a view to proffering solutions.

In the year 2018, the UNICEF released the findings of a research on
Nigeria’s out-of-school children. At that time, the north carried 69
per cent of Nigeria’s out-of-school children. The report further
revealed that Bauchi had the highest number of 1.1 out-of-school
children, followed by Katsina with 781,500. In the same vein, it was
reported that in the year 2013, some 15 million children were working
in agriculture, as domestic servants, hawkers and beggars. As a result
of lingering insurgency in the northeast, more than 1 million children
have fled their homes for safety. And there is a dangerous implication
for the Muslim North because another research conducted showed that
children make up 45 per cent of the Muslim population in any country!
Undoubtedly, many of us must have encountered one research or the
other on the unfortunate and backward state of our children. Also, for
the full comprehension of the term children, the point of reference is
not in anyway related to the children of the bourgeoisie, petty
bourgeoisie or the middle class members, for they are socially secured
and enjoy realistic progress. The definitive term is mainly
correlating to the children of the masses, the bulk of our population.

What type of children do you often come across hawking even at the
risk of their lives, running mindlessly at traffic points to sell
drinking water and collect just ordinary ten Naira from passengers in
moving vehicles? In major towns of the North, this singular and
unpleasant experience will lead you to understand that our common
children are being neglected and are grossly underdeveloped and by and
large, the regional development is also adversely affected. From the
Muslims’ point of view, there is the erroneous construction of a point
that we are vast in population, including the vastness of our
children. But Sheikh Ibrahim Khaliel at one time debunked this pride
in population. According to him and of course he was right, we can
only be proud of our great number only if we are developing and not

It is with a great sense of concern to the discerning minds that if we
ignore the potential dangers our underdeveloped children portend to
the north and its development, we ought to spend sleepless nights that
we are producing the next generation that lacks intellectual
development, creedal development, devotional development, behavioural
development, skills development and so on and so forth. Evidently,
most of our children do not attend school to learn skills that will
prepare them for future living. They are left to cater for themselves
engaging in hazardously petty tradings .This is in complete disregard
to the teaching of Islam that the child is entitled to shelter,
maintenance,  health care, proper education, religious training and
right to financial security. Also in the Charter of the United
Nations, article 3 emphasises that the best interest of the child
shall be a primary consideration. Although the Almajiris among them
are regarded as learners in the Islamic perspective, the fact remains
that their supposed learning is thwarted by lack of economic support
as in the past.

Dwelling deep into the predicament of our children in the north will
expose the parents as the primary culprits of their social abuse and
bondage. In one of his noble teachings, the Holy Prophet of Islam,
Muhammad (SAW) admonished us that each one of us is a Shepherd and
will be questioned regarding his flock. Therefore, the trouble with
our underdeveloped northern children is primarily culled from parental
negligence. But that should not mislead us to exonerate other societal
institutions from lifting and sharing the same blames of parents.
Accordingly, there is bad news for the society at large. If the
members of the well-to-do cadre think that they have no social and
moral obligation to uplift those children of immense talents and whose
parents cannot further shoulder the responsibility of their advanced
education, then eventually, the wealthy shall become targets of
criminal attacks of the same children they once denied financial
support to cushion the adverse effects of backwardness and the
government will have to employ more security personnel, procure more
sophisticated weapons to cleanse the society of the same ‘rotten eggs’
that were once neglected and despised. The case of rampant kidnapping
is one good example in which the kidnappers are from the masses and
their victims are members of the upper social classes. But is it not
an exercise in futility that we abandon building strong children and
finally resort to repairing broken men?

Today’s bandits, insurgents and kidnappers were at one time children.
Interestingly, none of them have their parental origin from the
bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie as well as the middle class. They were
the unfortunate children of the masses years back. Now they are grown
up men we cannot tame the wildernesses within them. As children, they
were obviously not rendered the mandatory training they deserved for
their overall development. Sadly, they only had to undergo the process
of growth.

Based on the above revelations on the hopeless condition of our
children, it will be a great service to the North in particular and
humanity in general that we are today living in terms of great
technological changes for development. Technology is now a friend to
all and must be fully utilized to save our children the danger of
being the next set of insurgents or bandits or kidnappers. Apart from
entrenching parental responsibilities, the government should enforce
educational policies to make education cheap and very conducive to the
children of the poor. Where necessary, the wealthy in our midst must
lift the burden of ameliorating the financial demands of the poor
where it is vital, especially in areas of education and economic

Our concerted failure to address the regrettable and dangerous state
of our children will be another bomb blast for Arewa. We cannot fold
our arms to see the underdevelopment of our children when other
regions’ children are passing through the process of rapid
advancement. We should not continue deceiving ourselves in the belief
of growing children who will be potential voters in the next few
months or years to exert political supremacy through massive votes.
The unfortunate case of the Buhari presidency is a typical example of
how our votes were counted to produce a president from the North, but
ironically his home state is the worst hit by insecurity.

Today’s bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, drug addicts, etc were
yesterday’s children of the north. Now that they are adult and we did
not care for their development, they grew up to be not only broken but
brutish men. Whatever efforts we exert we can never repair them! They
are becoming Emperors trying to sack everlasting peace . In other
words, they now determine our period of peace and our period of
horrors .Even if children are not properly catered for by their
parents, that should not make us forget about their problems entirely
because they are very prone to dangerous activities that can
destabilize our region as we are currently experiencing.

From this analysis, what is left for the people of conscience in the
North is to converge together and map out strategies for developing
today’s northern children so that we should not breed another class of
agents of insecurity and merchants of social decadence.

Abdu Abdullahi
Galadanci Quarters
Jigawa State

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