Friday, August 31, 2012

Is Northern Nigeria really poor? Part Two

THE Northern governors have only succeeded in organising series of jamborees called summits, without concrete follow ups and feed back mechanism. At the last count, the governors have organised summits on peace, agriculture, power generation, health, education and MDG, and the Northern governors forum has not done much to address issues of dilapidating legacies of Late Sir. Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. Professor Mike Kwanashi had noted that the North has not developed because the governors “were more outward looking tow
ards the centre than they were inward looking towards their society.”
The North has neglected and continues its opposition to education, despite its obvious advantage in global competition and despite 60 years gap between it and Southern Nigeria. There is an increasing disunity in the North. Nothing demonstrates the lack of unity and vision in the North as the following:
Its inability to produce and promote a credible and acceptable presidential candidate as it used to; its inability to have an identifiable and credible voice to speak for the realisation of the rejuvenation of its moribund textile industries and other related industries, despite the promised N100 billion textile fund; the way and manner the zoning of presidency was speedily set aside to favour another zone; its failure to work or cooperate to prosecute those who stole money meant to develop power in the North; in its inability to truly assimilate the Northern minority who are feeling unwanted in the core Northern states.
It is so bad that the United States Assistant Secretary of state, Johnie Carson suggested the creation of ministry of Northern Affairs or a development commission to deal with insurgency in the North East–similar to what was done in response to the Niger Delta issues.
The North is poor because of the aforementioned reasons, and it may continue to be if drastic action is not taken to address or reverse those sad trends.
The North is rich but refuses to be rich. The North is industrious, but refuses to be industrious. The North is great but refuses to be great. The North remain a sleeping giant continuously trampled upon by smaller regions. The North is thus being isolated from the rest of the country.
The North is not poor because it has agricultural potentials. It equally has other bargaining products such as solid minerals, natural resources, tourism (Argungu). It equally has a strategic and active working population. The North is rich because it has agriculture, tourism and even crude oil.
The North has gum Arabic, cotton, groundnut, sesame seed, jatropha, sugar cane, shea butter, fishery, and livestock.
If the North can wake up to tap these enormous potentials, it will put to rest the erroneous impression that the Northern people are lazy, and are parasites and it will also go further to enhance national economy and stability, enhance standard of living, stave off militancy, sustain industrialization and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It will also promote regional integration in the neighboring Chad, Cameroun, and Niger Republic. It may also reduce the agitation for the call for sovereign National Conference to ordinary National Conference.
Agriculture provides the major sources of employment for the vast majority of Northerners and present the quickest ways of reducing poverty in the region. The north does not have any business with importation of food. Yet attempts at embarking on commercial agriculture is threatened by access to low cost finance, land tenure system and low productivity. It is on record that Nigeria imports food with N1.7 billion every year, despite having 79 million hectares of arable land out of which only about 40 million hectares are being cultivated. Also, 35-40% of the meat consumed in Nigeria comes from neighboring African countries.
If the North has a widely acceptable and credible leadership, it would have hastened the regions-road to economic recovery and development, yet no one speaks for the North well enough to be acceptable by the entire region.
The question then is: who speaks for the North? There are many organisations and pressure groups springing up—now, just as they were in the past. We have the UDF, NEF, APC, NU, ACF, G-20, GAMA, Turaki committee, the Northern Christian Elders Forum, The Coalition Of Concerned Northerners, The Area Citizen Actions For Change, and The Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiatives. Yet it is high time that the North repositioned its leadership to be truly representative and credible so as to work to move the North forward.
The bottom line is that we must all work to bring out the best of what the north has to offer.
If tourism yields Kenya and Egypt billions of dollars, then the north can be richer by developing its tourism sector
Today, Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia are agricultural superpowers, so also is Tanzania and Mozambique trailing behind.
If Botswana can earn 2 billion pounds per annum from exporting beef; Northern Nigeria can do better.
If Malaysia can earn 28 billion dollars from the exportation of palm oil, then with determination and vision, the North can do better.
If Brazil can be self sufficient in food and becomes one of the world largest exporters of beef, sugar cane, coffee, and frozen chicken, the North can do better with a renewed determination and selfless sacrifice. The world market is looking for N50 billion worth of Moringa Olifera (Zogale), a food and medicinal plant, that grows on the wild in Nigeria (especially, Northern Nigeria), Northerners must therefore not be left behind.
The North needs to be honest with itself and face the reality on ground and find ways out of the problem.
The North is not poor in resources, but in leadership
The North is not poor in manpower but in skill and vision
The North is not poor in friendliness but in aloofness
The North is not poor in agriculture but in dependency syndrome
The North is not poor in religion but in virtues.
We must all be proactive in helping the North to be the North it ought to be. As a way out, the North must set up both short and long term master plan that will not be based on oil and managed by a team of economists and technocrats. The region must mobilise capital for the general development of its infrastructure, agriculture, education and health. The land use act must be reviewed while the NNDC, an investment arm of the North must be reorganised.
Access to justice must be vigorously enforced. Its states should work to improve their revenue base through internally generated revenue. It must partner and benefit from international donor agencies like OK, IBD, AFBA, UNDP, USPF, DFID, USAID, and local institutions and banks such as NEXIM, Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry etc. The North has all the potentials needed for greatness, consistent government policy to translate these into reality will ultimately determine how rich or poor the North will be in a few years to come.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review!!!

January 2, 2013 at 3:36 PM  

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