Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai has said
that, Nigeria consists of two countries: a developing South, and a
backward, less educated and unhealthy North, with the highest number of
poor people in the world.
El-Rufai equally lamented that the northern region has development indicators similar to that of Afganistan, a country at war.


in Kaduna on Saturday at the Northern Youth Summit organised by
Northern Hibiscus, an NGO, El-Rufai however said that the problems of
the region must be addressed collectively as a group of 19 northern
states governors, not as individual states.
El-Rufai said the summit
whose theme was “Awakening the Arewa Spirit,” was very timely, adding
that “when we talk about awakening the spirit, it means the spirit is
either sleeping or dead. Therefore, this summit is very important, just
like our keynote address speaker has said.

“But, looking
at the statistics, Nigeria appears to be a middle-income country. But,
if we segregate those statistics across states and zones, you will see
that in terms of human development indicators, Nigeria consists of two
countries; there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy northern
Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern Nigeria.

“We have to speak the truth to ourselves and ask why is it
that northern Nigeria has development indicators similar to Afganistan, a
country still at war?
“We have the largest number of poor people in
the world, most of them in northern Nigeria. Nigeria also has the
largest number of out-of-school children, virtually all of them in
Northern Nigeria.

“Northern Nigeria has become the centre of
drug abuse, gender violence, banditry, kidnapping and terrorism. We have
also been associated with high divorce rate and breakdown of families.
These are the challenges that confront us. This is the Unclad truth that
we have to tell ourselves.

“We must, therefore, as leaders
at all levels have a conversation about the way forward for our part of
the country. Because increasingly, as many of you must have seen on
social media, we are being considered as the parasite of the federal
economy, even though, that is not entirely true. Because northern
Nigeria still feeds the nation. The richest businessman in Nigeria is
still Aliko Dangote, not someone from southern Nigeria, thank God for

“So, we still have a lot to be proud of. We should be proud
of our culture and tradition, as well as unity. You hardly can find
someone from northern Nigeria convicted of 419 or being aYahoo boy. That
is something we should be proud of.

“We are generally considered
to be more honest and less corrupt than other Nigerians. That is
something we should be proud of. In addition, our demographic
superiority gives us a very powerful tool to negotiate in politics. And
that is something we should be proud of, and we should preserve. So, we
have every reason to unite and not be divided.

“I, therefore,
call on you the youth; you account for 80 per cent of the northern
population and the future of this region lies in your hands, not in the
hands of Dinosaurs like me. I’m 59 and among the oldest five per cent of
the northern population. I shouldn’t even be governor; I should have
been governor ten years ago. But ‘na condition make crayfish bend,’ so
we are here.
“But, why are we here? In my view, we are here to
prepare the next generation of leaders. That is why the agenda for this
summit is very important. So, you should take the panel discussions very
seriously and come up with very clear and implementable decisions that
you will circulate to all of us elected to lead in northern Nigeria.

urge Northern Hibiscus to send recommendations from this summit to the
Chairman of northern state governors’ forum. We have to do something
about the situation of northern Nigeria and we must do so as a group of
19 governors, not individual state governors.” El-Rufai said.

speaking, the sponsor of the event and immediate past Chairman of House
of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin
said, while the North was in dire situation, the region has not lost
everything. “There is growth everywhere and so many leaders have

Jibrin who analysed the need to reawaken the Arewa
spirit on sociocultural, economic and political spheres, said family
unit remains the bigger challenge faced in the region as it contributes
to high rate of divorce, late marriages, drug abuse and destitution.

at the economic aspect, he noted the need for job and wealth creation
to build businesses, understanding competition, marketing and funding in
He said there is little or no money available at
commercial banks to loan small and medium enterprises because government
borrows an average of N1 trillion annually with N600 billion to N700
billion interest from first line charge.

The lawmaker called for
role models across board, adding that “we have to mould leaders, we have
to create ourselves into leaders,” he said.

In her opening
remarks, founder of Northern Hibiscus Initiative, Aisha Falke, said the
summit was organised to examine the numerous challenges of the North,
with a view to finding lasting solutions to them.

She also
disclosed that, Northern Hibiscus had also taken the bull by the horn
with a 16-year action to empower the youths with useful skills,
especially those who are not privileged to have formal education.

Source:- Sunnewsonline


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