The North is Nigeria’s face of poverty, under-development – El-Rufai

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By; Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir, Kaduna.
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has said the Northern part of Nigeria with its large population and land mass wears the face of the country’s abject poverty, underdevelopment and all hands must be on deck to reverse it and utilise it to advantage.
He made the assertion while playing host to the President of United States Institute for Peace Nancy Lindborg and her team in Kaduna.
He explained that Kaduna is a typical Northern state but a little better than most because there are challenges in others that Kaduna do not have.
“The face of poverty in Nigeria and under development is a northern face. In many ways, the nineteen Northern States not only have the worst development indicators, in my very honest opinion and I can say this because I am a northerner….” El-Rufai stressed.
He warned that if they as Governors in the region don’t address the fundamentals of these problems and resolve them quickly, “we will continue to be a dreg of the rest of the country. This I feel strongly. This is why I am in politic because I think Northern Nigeria needs better governance”.
The governor informed the delegation that Kaduna State is ethnically diverse with over fifty ethnic groups and 30 percent Christian, 70 percent Muslim population. He also informed that the state is the headquarters of the Shi’ite Movement in Nigeria.
Enumerating the challenged the state faces and how the government handles them, El-Rufai said in addition to having the Muslim/Christian divide “which is common in most of Nigeria, we also have the Sunni/Shi’ite divide” relating it to the recent Zaria crisis where he said “led to the death of hundreds of people arising from a clash with the Nigerian Army”.
His government he also revealed is dealing with the legacy of the 2011 post election crisis “when more than 800 people were killed, property worth millions of Dollars was destroyed”. This crisis he asserted led to reprisal attacks by the victims of the post election violence who felt culprits were let off the hook unpunished.
This he attributed to ” hopelessness and weak governance” in the past. All these and more he asserted are challenges he is dealing with and doing his best to contain and forge a better future for the teeming populace.
The Governor said 88 per cent of the state population are below 35 years old and a recent survey recently conducted revealed that Kaduna State population is closer to 10 million.
The Northern region he stressed has 58 percent of Nigeria’s total population and covers 72 per cent of the entire land mass with the fastest growing demography too.
He solicited for the support and cooperation of the United State Peace Institute in meeting and alleviating some of these challenges, promising the readiness of his administration to work with the Institute.
Earlier, the President of the Institute and leader of delegation, Nancy Lindborg said they are aware of some of the challenges, but would love to know more from the states and how the challenges are being met.
She revealed that they had a great meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja a day before coming to Kaduna, and they had good articulation of the challenges of Nigeria and the current administration.
Lindborg applauded El-Rufai for having “a wonderful reputation as a great reformer through his entire career.
She assured of the institute’s readiness to help on many fronts to aid in tackling the challenges.
 

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