By; BUHARI B. BELLO, Jos
Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State Simon Bako Lalong wants Nigerians in the diaspora particularly those from Northern Nigeria to make available their wealth of experience, resources and connections towards supporting development initiatives in the region and the nation as a whole.
He who spoke while delivering a Keynote Address at the 2019 Annual Convention of the Zumunta Association (an umbrella body of Nigerians from 19 Northern States) in Minnesota-United States of America, said unless the sons and daughters of the region step in to assist in finding solutions to the region’s challenges, it will take a longer time to achieve results.
According to him,, the situation where youth constitute about 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population with about 40 percent of them unemployed does not augur well for the nation’s security and development as most of them are easy targets for criminals who take advantage of them for crimes and social instability.
“since most of them are unemployed, such talents and energy are either wasted or being channeled into negative and unproductive engagements with significant unpalatable consequences for the country. This is more pronounced in the North where security crises occasioned by Boko Haram terrorists, kidnappings, cattle rustling, banditry and herdsmen/farmers clashes have come to dominate our lives”.
The Northern States Governor’s Forum he said has resolved to synergize and pursue policies and strategies that will tackle the challenges of insecurity faced by the region and promote peaceful coexistence.
He however, assured them that the Buhari led APC Government and the various administrations in the North have put in place various programmes
such as N-POWER, AGSMEIS, GEEP, among others to engage the youths through entrepreneurial activities and job opportunities.
Making specific reference to Plateau State, Governor Lalong told the Zumunta
Convention that his Rescue Administration has worked with all stakeholders to restore peace and the next priority is to industrialize the state and create wealth.
He explained that his administration has been able to train and empower thousands of youths with the support of GIZ, ITF, and the Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (PLASMIDA) in order to make them self-help any.
He cited the revival of the moribund Bokkos Fertilizer Blending Plant which is producing at 100 percent capacity; The Highland Bottling Company in Barkin Ladi
Local Government; and the efforts to redevelop the Jos Main Market and the Jos International Breweries as some of the initiatives by his administration to put the economy of the state back on solid footing.
While urging the diasporans not to lose faith in their country, Government at this critical time.
“we admit that Nigeria is still facing significant development challenges and so many of our citizens are going through difficult times. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful and optimistic that the country’s future remains very bright and will be better tomorrow”.
He urged them to continue to be worthy Ambassadors of Nigeria and push the interests of the Northern Region while supporting humanitarian initiatives in education, health, social welfare and agriculture as well as taking advantage of the recently established Diaspora Commission.