By Bola Bolawole
[email protected] 0807 552 5533
One Northern leader after another has, in recent times, decried the so-called poverty of the North, as it were. They have attempted to state why this is so as well as proffer solutions. The World Bank says 87% of Nigeria’s poor are in the North; and since Nigeria is the capital of the world’s poor, it stands to reason that the capital of poverty in Nigeria and in the whole wide world should be somewhere in the North.
Many Nigerians, especially those from the South, will dispute that the North is poor. Many will query the statistics and describe it as a clever ploy by the North to continue to siphon the country’s resources – or, better still, the South’s resources – to the North. The evidence speaks to the fact that the North is not as poor as it is being advertised, or is not poor at all or, better still, it has no reason to be poor at all or to be as poor as is being stated.
The North has ruled this country more than the South since Independence in 1960. And unlike the few Nigerian leaders produced by the South, Northern leaders have been audacious in using State power to favour the North while short-changing the South. They have deployed State power to give the North so many strategic advantages against the South. Let’s begin to count.
They have leveraged on the periodic census to maintain and expand the manipulated population figures the British colonial masters awarded the North; with Nigeria, therefore, becoming the only country in the whole world where hostile, inhabitable desert areas are more thickly populated than the more hospitable, more habitable, more population-friendly forest region and good climate areas of the South. Thinking aloud, why, then, are they migrating down South if the desert North is so habitable?
With this “arrange” population figures, the North corners more of the country’s resources when monies and other development projects are shared among the various segments of our stunted Federation. The North gets more allocations from the Federation Account even though it contributes far less into it.
The North’s bloated population also translates into its getting more elected representatives into the National Assembly – the House of Representatives and the Senate. Its more members translate into its representatives getting more salaries and other allowances and perquisites than their counterparts from the South.
It also means that no business can successfully be conducted there without their accepting or supporting. For example, it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for an amendment to the Constitution (e.g. restructuring) to pass through the National Assembly without the North’s concurrence.
In elections, the South, even if they vote as one man, cannot match the North on account of the North’s orchestrated population advantage. They are presumed to have more voters and this has always been manipulated to churn out humongous votes for the candidates of the North’s choice. Except a miracle happens – or a revolution takes place – the South on its own and by itself cannot wrestle political power from the North.
Unlike their flippant, selfish, self-centred and myopic Southern counterparts, Northern leaders are strategic thinkers and schemers. Nigeria started out as three regions – North, West and East. When it served the North’s interests, its leaders refused to have their vast region split into many parts but seized upon “small” Western Region to carve out the Mid-west in 1963.
But immediately they saw that more states meant more resources, they ensured that the North has more states than the South. Today, the North has 19 states; the South 17. Out of 774 local governments, the South has 334 while the North has 416. S…
[12:45 PM, 2/12/2020] Tunde Abatan: UK to build HS2 high speed rail line
…. dubbed the most expensive in the world
HS2 has caused controversy over environmental impact and ballooning costs.
It will connect London to Birmingham in the initial phase.
Trains on the line will be able to travel up to 250 miles per hour.
The U.K. government has signed off on a high-speed rail line that was first announced more than a decade ago.
High Speed 2 (HS2) was first proposed in 2009 under a Labour Party government before a Conservative-led administration in 2010 revealed plans for a London to Birmingham route due for completion by 2031.
HS1 is Britain’s only current high-speed rail track linking London to the Channel Tunnel, which connects the country to France. It opened in 2003.
HS2 should enable trains to reach speeds of up to 250 miles per hour (mph). Speaking after a cabinet meeting Tuesday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Tuesday that his government had the “guts to take the decision” to deliver prosperity across the country.
HS2 has caused controversy over environmental impact and ballooning costs. The 2015 budget put the cost at just under £56 billion ($72.4 billion), but a leaked report in January claimed that costs had almost doubled to £106 billion.
Addressing the cost, Johnson said he will appoint a full-time government minister to take charge of HS2, instill discipline in the project timetable and look for cost savings.
A second stage of the line will connect Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, but would not be completed before 2035.
A lobby group STOP HS2 says that rather than benefiting other regions of Britain, the rail line is in fact London-centric and is being built to connect an area of northwest London that developers see as ripe for financial services companies.
It also claims the high-speed train will cause large destruction to the natural environment, traveling through ancient woodlands, nature reserves and almost 700 classified wildlife sites.
STOP HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said in January that the case for HS2 has been pushed by people who have persuaded lawmakers to “believe and repeat fact-free bombastic rhetoric and wishful thinking.”
Rukin said the rising costs of the project were always known by people who were likely to gain government contracts to build the line.
“People with vested commercial interests in seeing the government commit to building the most expensive railway in the history of the world lobbied hard and got what they wanted,” he added.
The new Conservative government has been split over HS2 with many lawmakers receiving objections from people living in constituencies affected by the line.
But the line is seen as part of government promises to stimulate growth beyond the southeast of England in a post-Brexit world.
The U.K. economy has been struggling to post an increase in activity and on Tuesday, official figures revealed that the country witnessed no growth at all in the final three months of 2019.
“There was no growth in the last quarter of 2019 as increases in the services and construction sectors were offset by another poor showing from manufacturing, particularly the motor industry,” said Rob Kent-Smith, Office for National Statistic head of gross domestic product, in a statement.