Poor leadership driving poverty in northern Nigeria – Group

The Arewa Economic Renewal Forum has said that poor leadership has been the major reason for the high poverty rate in northern Nigeria.

The Forum said this during a press briefing in Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of AERF, Ibrahim Yahaya, said it had become compelling for anyone vying for the position of the president to come up with a strategic blueprint to economically transform the north.

He said, “As we eagerly look forward to the 2023 General Election with keen hope for a peaceful, free and fair election, we the Arewa Economic Renewal Forum – a regional economic renewal movement – have determined that February 2023 is the time for the North to take her destiny into her hands and restore lost glories by throwing our weight behind any candidate with a viable economic blueprint for the restoration of Arewa.

“Over the years, Nigeria and especially the North have suffered an epileptic form of leadership borne out of a lacklustre attitude of elected persons to engineer the much-desired economic prosperity by exploiting regional assets, demographic potentials, geologic advantages and agricultural benefits for economic, infrastructural and human development.

“The resultant consequence for our region is poverty, substandard education, lack of asses to credit financing and other negative underdevelopment indicators.

“No doubt, the size and dimension of the population of the Northern region displaces in terms of size any other African country apart from Nigeria itself.

“In other words, if this region would have been a country of its own, it would still remain the most populous country in Africa and one of the 10 most populous in the world.”

He lamented that while the Northern region of the federation accounts for over 70 per cent of the total arable landmass in Nigeria, geologically created in such an advantageous way that it could allow for 12 months of agriculture as it is traversed with river basins and aquatic reservoirs that would allow for three seasons of harvest every year, only about 23 per cent of the landmass is fully utilized for agricultural purposes.

Also, he stated that out of the over three million hectares of potential dry season agriculture river basins, less than one million hectares is inefficiently utilised yet Nigeria have about ten river basin development authorities in existence for over 45 years.

He added that the inability of successive administrations to exploit these resources in mainstreaming human development as the most dominant factor in development planning has remained the region’s greatest albatross.

“Consequently, we have the worst human development index, with an estimated 87 million people living on less than $1.90/day yet none of the top-ranked five economies in the world – Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Iceland – are more naturally endowed than Nigeria and indeed the North.

“In terms of Maternal Mortality, Nigeria has about 512 maternal deaths per 100,000 births as of September 2022 with a large percentage of these concentrated in the North.

“While in education, Northern Nigeria represents about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population of out-of-school children, holding a record 13 million out of 20 million out-of-school children.

This trend is exacerbated by insurgency and banditry across the northeast and northwest zone.

“In terms of Access to Finance and Credit for Investment and Development from the National Financial System, the Northern Region has consistently over the last 10 years been shortchanged sometimes by a deliberate policy of the government and private financial institutions.

“The gross distribution of development and investment finance by government institutions and other financial institutions has always been skewed in favour of other regions, enterprises and institutions in Nigeria,” Yahaya said.

He stated further that over the last five years, about seven of the biggest banks in Nigeria do not accept real estate assets as collateral for any business in the entire North except assets in Abuja.

“Over the last 10 years, loan portfolios for Nigerian banks have equally been in favour of other regions and to the disadvantage of the entire Northern region with some slight exceptions for Abuja.

“This same trend is visible in other financial institutions including development finance institutions owned by government and special intervention funds provided by budgets and or central bank of Nigeria special intervention financing,” he said.





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