BY EMEKA MAMAH
THE Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF dismissed as misinformed comments that northern leaders, who have dominated rulership of Nigeria are responsible for the underdevelopment and rising poverty in the North.
The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in its latest report said that Sokoto with 81.2 percent poverty level was the poorest in the country followed by Katsina, Adamawa and Gombe states which shared the same poverty rate of 74.2 percent each.
According to the report, other states with high poverty level include Jigawa and Plateau states with 74.1 percent followed by Ebonyi in the South East with 73.6 percent.
The Bureau further stated that Bauchi State had 73 percent poverty level, Kebbi (72 percent) and Zamfara (70.8 percent).
Reacting to the report, the National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Mr Anthony Sani, said although the North seem to have produced more leaders than other sections of the country who could have improved the lot of the North, they were not sectional in the performance of their functions, hence they could not treat fellow northerners differently.
Averring that Nigerians should be blamed on the issue, Sani, who said southern leaders had also been long in power to effect changes, attributed the South’s higher socio-economic growth over the North to earlier contact with western education and not consciously directed efforts.
Sani said: ‘’The time which this country has been under the watch of leaders from the South is long enough to make a difference in the standard of living across the country.’ When people say the North ruled more than the rest of the country, it makes me angry in the sense that they imply that the president or head of state is expected to be a sectional head and not that of the whole country. Such notion also presupposes that the military heads of state consulted the North before taking over power and on behalf of the North. This is not correct; it is misinformed; misguided.
’’A president of this country is expected to regard the whole country as his constituency by presiding over a united nation, and not over a divided people. The president should bring the people of the nation together and not preside over a divided people. The president should bring the people together and enable them live up their collective challenges for not only public good but also for individual benefit.
That is why I do not think the North is blaming anybody but the leadership and the governed of this country for the underdevelopment. What is more, any edge over the North by the South in socio-economic development has more to do with history of the South’s earlier contact with Western education as well as its proximity to seaports than any consciously directed efforts.
’’So, the statistics which shows the North carting home gold medals in misery indices and bringing up the rear in human development index as depressing as they may appear, should be a wake up call on not only northern governors, but also the Federal Government to the reality that a section of the country is being left behind, and that reduction of gaps in incomes among individuals and among groups is not only good politics but also, good economics.
The time which this country has been under the watch of leaders from the South is long enough to make a difference in the standard of lives across the country. Yet, the story is still the same, implying we are all to blame for our woes’’