When Buhari marginalized the North…, By Jaafar Jaafar

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BuhariSometime in 2014, a change of baton in the leadership of the Unity Bank Plc left me in pain. Learning that the newly appointed managing director of the Unity Bank, an offshoot of our Bank of the North, Henry Semenitari, was not from Zamfara, Benue or Borno State, but from Rivers State drew spasm of rage. My pain was not borne out of ethnocentrism but for ardour on the future of the North in the banking sector.

When boardroom crisis led to the resignation of Mr. Semenitari in August last year, I expected to hear names like Abdullahi, Bulus or Modibbo taking over from him. No, I was wrong. Ms. Tomi Somefun is currently the managing director of the bank.

Why this? After a merger, the Bank of the North lost its identity and melted into other banks. The Southerners now have the controlling stake in what became symbolic of the bank Sardauna built for the North. I’m piqued that the canopying shade of the great gamji tree sowed by the late premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, is now covering the South than the North. What is now left to us is the trunk of the tree, standing idly on Zaria Road, Kano. Is this not shameful to our elites?

The central argument of this piece is, however, the issue of “marginalisation” by the Buhari administration. While I truly believe President Muhammadu Buhari has marginalised the South-East on the issue of appointments, I disagree with the people of the zone that the president has an axe to grind with the Igbo.

After losing the Bank of the North, one peripheral area of finance that is almost the exclusive preserve of Northerners, the Bureau de Change/forex dealings, is now going… Gone! The banking sector, insurance, the equity market, mortgage institutions, leasing companies, discount houses, etc. are all controlled by the South! We are now complete spectators in the area of finance.

The North is not crying foul, perhaps because we love our elites to occupy power at the centre more than we love Kano to be like Lagos, whose economy is bigger than some African countries. The Economist said of Lagos, “The GDP of Lagos alone exceeds that of Kenya, East Africa’s beefiest economy”.

Sometime in 2014, a change of baton in the leadership of the Unity Bank Plc left me in pain. Learning that the newly appointed managing director of the Unity Bank, an offshoot of our Bank of the North, Henry Semenitari, was not from Zamfara, Benue or Borno State, but from Rivers State drew spasm of rage. My pain was not borne out of ethnocentrism but for ardour on the future of the North in the banking sector.

When boardroom crisis led to the resignation of Mr. Semenitari in August last year, I expected to hear names like Abdullahi, Bulus or Modibbo taking over from him. No, I was wrong. Ms. Tomi Somefun is currently the managing director of the bank.

Why this? After a merger, the Bank of the North lost its identity and melted into other banks. The Southerners now have the controlling stake in what became symbolic of the bank Sardauna built for the North. I’m piqued that the canopying shade of the great gamji tree sowed by the late premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, is now covering the South than the North. What is now left to us is the trunk of the tree, standing idly on Zaria Road, Kano. Is this not shameful to our elites?

The central argument of this piece is, however, the issue of “marginalisation” by the Buhari administration. While I truly believe President Muhammadu Buhari has marginalised the South-East on the issue of appointments, I disagree with the people of the zone that the president has an axe to grind with the Igbo.

After losing the Bank of the North, one peripheral area of finance that is almost the exclusive preserve of Northerners, the Bureau de Change/forex dealings, is now going… Gone! The banking sector, insurance, the equity market, mortgage institutions, leasing companies, discount houses, etc. are all controlled by the South! We are now complete spectators in the area of finance.

The North is not crying foul, perhaps because we love our elites to occupy power at the centre more than we love Kano to be like Lagos, whose economy is bigger than some African countries. The Economist said of Lagos, “The GDP of Lagos alone exceeds that of Kenya, East Africa’s beefiest economy”.

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