Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The big cleavages in Nigeria

The less-developed, less-educated, poorer, Muslim north of Nigeria differs from the middle belt and the south. How many cleavages can you identify?

Why northerners feel done down
THE roads are thick with traffic and pavements throng with hawkers selling phonecards, sunglasses and leather sandals. At night, street corners are lit up with a red glow from grills cooking spicy meat. But the bustle of Kano, Nigeria’s second-biggest city and the commercial capital of the north, masks an uncomfortable reality: northern Nigeria is in steep decline.

An increasingly bloody insurgency waged by Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, has sharpened frustration over the disparity between the jobless north and the oil-rich south…

The fear of terrorism continues to cast a long shadow over the city and across the north. Bombings, kidnappings and bloody assaults by Boko Haram, as well as the army’s efforts to keep a lid on the fighting, have deterred investment. Farming, the north’s main source of income, has been hamstrung…

Despite a construction boom across Nigeria, many foreign companies avoid the north…

Unreliable electricity, cheap Chinese imports, smuggling and counterfeit goods have made life hard for local companies… Poor education puts off investors seeking skilled labour. Whereas the literacy rate in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital on the coast, is 92%, in Kano it is 49%. In the north-eastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram got going, it is 15%. Without better education, the region will struggle to attract investment or create jobs…

Northerners habitually complain that politicians have made personal fortunes from the booming oil industry in the south, while failing to share its benefits. Mutterings of a north-south divide have grown louder with the prospect of President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian, running for a second term in 2015. Northerners resent what they see as a violation of an unwritten rule that the presidency should rotate every two terms between the largely Muslim north and the mostly Christian south…

[M]any northerners, struggling to make a living, are deciding to leave Kano in search of better prospects—down south. [T]he owner of a big construction company says, “Visible development gives the impression of stability and progress.” But it will not be enough to close the gulf between Nigeria’s two halves. As a result, northerners are increasingly resentful.

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