By; SULAIMAN TUKUR
I am compelled to advice Northern Governors Forum amidst insecurity, unemployment, poverty and hunger in our region.
I found it pertinent to draw their attention to ‘why north is still backward’ in the areas of ; Education, Security and Economic development ? Northern Governors must work to change the situation.
The north has been blessed with human and natural resources more than any other part of the country. We were blessed with population, mass fertile land and abundant mineral resources. In spite of all these, the region is still lagging behind. Our population has only benefited us ,when it comes to elections as it is game of number.
From the Northeast to Northcentral down to Northwest, all of the nineteen states that made up the Northern Nigeria have some particular crops comprising roots and tubers they can cultivate in commercial quantity. So is also Minerals resources.
It took Mr. President four good years preaching and begging us to go back to farm, until last year August he ordered for the closure of the land boarders.
It will interest you to know since 2015 to date that God keeps blessing us with enough rainfall year in, year out.
When the country’s borders were closed for food importation, so as to be able to feed ourselves what did the Northern Governors do to support agriculture to create employment for our youth, create wealth, generate revenue and contribute to the economic growth of the nation. How much did you invest in agriculture to support farmers and the economy of the nation.
No economy of any nation can develop without the development and contribution of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the Federal government provides opportunities by introducing programmes/policies and made funding available for those who are willing to venture, all aims at reducing overdependence on government and contributing to the Economic growth and development of the nation (i.e CBN farmers anchor borrowers, Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), National Poverty Eradication Programmes (NAPEP) ,National Directorate of Employment (NDE), N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer for vulnerable people and more recent intervention i.e. Covid-19 and Nirsal loans e.tc.
We have expected you to support these policies and programmes by doing the needful to ensure the success of the programmes for the benefit of the region and the nation at large.
If our Governors have been complementing the efforts of Federal Government by shifting concentration and investing heavily in Agriculture and Solid minerals, Nigeria would have been hunger and crime free nation. While hunger and unemployment are the major causes of crimes in the society on the other hand, Agriculture ensures food security alone and it also share job creation role with solid minerals development.
Mention has to be made here that, had if been the Southern part of the country have the mass and fertile land the Northern part have, they will feed the west African countries with what they will produce annually, especially the Southwestern States.
It is disheartening that people in the North, especially rural populace sit under the shade of the trees doing nothing during dry season while we have so many dams unutilized in the region due to lack of support from government.
Our people do travel to southern part during dry season in search for a greener pastures while we have the greener pastures with us here.
While our people struggle to take whatever we produce (food and animals) including perishables ones to the south for their consumption, defying security and economic risks on the roads, paying multiple taxations to the southern states, boosting their economy at the expense of ours (i.e paying for hotels accommodation, providing minimal jobs to their youth etc), the southern people never bring down what they have to the north by themselves. We have to go there to buy cars, electronics and electrical appliances, hospital consumables, Palm oil, coconuts, kolanuts, Garri etc and bring them down to the North. Even in transportation business it is hardly for you to see a person from the south conveying people from south to north and vice versa except those with luxurious buses.
I am of the opinion that the relationship should be symbiotic, let them bring what they have to us, as we takes what we have to them to achieve balance growth. This will also strengthen the unity and integration of the country as must of them who never travel to north have negative perception about the north.
Many will believe with me that some of the security challenges we are facing in many our states were the making of the state governors, by abandoning their responsibilities and failing to invest in Agriculture, Education, Skill Acquisition and their inability to manage and contain the growing farmers/herdsmen and ethnics disputes, being you the chief security officers of your respective states.
The region is educationally disadvantage, our illiteracy level is high compared to the southern part.
With the available resources at your disposal if judiciously utilize it will go a long way in solving so many problems of your respective states and the region.
The Federal Government have never withhold any allocation due to states, you don’t have any excuse, you were given all the opportunities and everything, the position you occupies is the second highest elective leadership position in Nigeria next to the President, any other elective political post is a representation except Chairman of the Local Government and it is under the purview of the state governments.
Our region has endures so much discomforts for long especially now that the economy bites hard, occasioned by fuel subsidy removal, border closure and covid-19 pandemic which translates to hike in prices of everything.
Our people complain more than our southern counterparts ,because of lack of availability of jobs and economic activities in the region, if people have something doing and getting money out of it, they hardly complaint about the increase of the cost of living.
The Northern Governors forum must take immediate steps to address the growing poverty, hunger, unemployment and insecurity in the region.
To this end, I hereby recommend to you as follows:
I. Come up with comprehensive development plan for the region in which the 19 states of the region through their Zonal forum i.e east, central and west will come up with their development plan to be incorporated in the overall plan of the region.
- Make the region more economically viable through agriculture and mining.
- Ensure all year round farming in the region by encouraging dry season farming through maintaining of our Dams, provision of power generator sets, inputs and watering equipments and other necessary items for dry season farming.
- Invest heavily in Agriculture by providing seeds, fertilizer, insecticides, herbicides at subside rates to the farmers.
- Ensure that only those in Agricultural Business through their various association
benefits from Governments’ Agricultural intervention not through politicians.
- Reintroduce the services of Agricultural extension workers and marketing board.
- Partner with southern part on the development of Education and the Agriculture.
- Each state should establish Education Trust Fund where contributions for politicians and philanthropists will be received to support the development of the Education in the region.
- Partner with traditional institutions and rural people in area of security.
- Establish Security Trust Fund to support Security Agencies in discharging their duties in the region.
Let our region take the lead on the economic development through agriculture and Solid Minerals development.
Gusau, Zamfara State.