To put this piece in its proper context, it is best we begin from the first constitutional conference which held in Lancaster House in London in 1953. Leaders from the three regions, namely Eastern, Northern and Western Nigeria had gone to London to discuss Nigeria’s Independence from Britain. While delegates from Eastern and Western Regions demanded for Independence immediately, leaders of the Northern Region asked for more time, saying that the Region was not ready for Independence. In terms of qualified manpower, the Region was grossly under-represented. There were only two qualified medical doctors of northern origin – Dr Dikko and Dr Imam, among other unexciting statistics in other professional and administrative disciplines. There were no qualified lawyers, engineers, chartered accountants, and others!
The Conference considered the views of the delegates from the northern region, and agreed to reconvene in 1955, to make a fresh call for Independence.
The different delegates returned to Nigeria to follow through on their definite programs. The Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello immediately assembled a team, including the expatriates, Greatbach and Kagrin, among others, and began a robust program of transforming the manpower capabilities of the northern region. He upgraded the General Hospital in Kano to a teaching hospital; upgraded the college in Kongo, to a tertiary institution, to train lawyers, accountants, administrator or executive assistants, among others robust initiatives.
When the conference reconvened in 1955, and a fresh push was made for Independence, Sir Ahmadu Bello still withheld his support because though impressed with some of the results following his various manpower transformation initiatives, he argued for more time to be able to build a critical mass of qualified manpower from the northern region.
The Conference adjourned to 1956, by what time many had begun accusing the northern region of bad faith, and deliberating stalling attempts being made by others for Nigeria’s Independence from Britain. At the Conference in 1956, it was agreed that the Eastern and Western Regions will be granted Self-Government in 1957, while the Northern Region will be given Self-Government in 1959. Sir Ahmadu Bello was happy at the compromise. By then, many of the northerners taking part in the capacity development programs had completed or were at the verge of completing their programs, locally or abroad. The likes of Mr Abdurazaq, the first lawyer, had returned, and was even made a honorary member of the Northern House, to encourage others. Others were closely following behind.
When Sir Bello heard that the medical doctors, who were addressed as assistant medical officers, upon graduation, would not be registered by the Nigeria Medical Council because the Council did not think they had received proper medical training, he pleaded that the doctors render their services only in the north. He concluded that he did not train the doctors for them to be registered by the medical council but for them to help the teeming masses of people requiring medical
attention. The likes of Dr Agbim, Dr Rimi and dozens of others who went through this program, went on to have successful medical careers, further substantiating the relevance of the question with which we concluded yesterday’s post.
Can any family, business, group or people led by leaders dominated by threat mentality ever fare as well as those dominated by the opportunity mentality? Can any family, business, group or people led by leaders who feel intimidated or insecure about the strides made by those they consider as their competition ever fare as well as those who consider news of every any stride made by those they consider as their competition, convert such news as fuel and motivation to strive better and be better in all of their strong areas?