By LUKA BINNIYAT
KADUNA – PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, at the Northern Economic Summit, lamented that the once rich and glorious Northern Nigeria has fallen far below the Human Development Index, saying something went “grossly wrong.”
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, took turns to blame the relatively poor state of the North on the North itself.
But, the Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo, and the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, while regretting the set back suffered by the north in terms of both human and social_economic development, reeled out some incentives for recovery.
The theme of the summit was: “Agenda for Economic and Social Transformation of Northern Nigeria.”
President Jonathan who admitted knowing little about Northern Nigeria, its people, history and environment until joining partisan politics, stressed that his new experience shows that the North “was once very rich.”
He said: “I have visited many Empire palaces, and I have been awe-struck by the quality and craftsmanship of their designs. It did not come cheap to build such structures. Some, I have been told, have been there since the 18th century. And when you look at the attires of the Emirs, and that of their officials, you know that they come from very expensive fabrics. The history of the North was once that of riches and colour.
But, I am disturbed from the Central Bank statistics on the North, placing it the lowest in the country.
“Something must have grossly gone wrong. And the solution has to be found, because the North still has some of the brightest minds in Nigeria and it also has many resources.”
While noting that his administration was putting measures in place to provide basic infrastructure all over Nigeria, he stressed that, the Federal Government specifically was planning to spend N350 billion in building small dams across the North in the next four years with the view of stimulating massive irrigational farms.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole in his speech said: “The North controls about 53 per cent of the human resources in Nigeria, but what has it done to turn it into a productive force? The North has ruled for most of the times, but what has it done to better its people. Today out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives, 200 are from the North.
“They are going to largely decide how the over N5 trillion 2011 National Budget would be spent. How would this number take advantage of this for the good of the North?”
On his part the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said that the North held the extreme forms of the problem that confronts Nigeria.
He said: “Some part of Jigawa and Yobe have poverty levels worse than in Niger and Chad,” adding that the elite of the North were to be blamed for the woes of the region.
While acknowledging that government had given out N200 billion as Agriculture Intervention Fund, he observed that farmers from the North are the least to patronise the loans.
Vice President Sambo said the present government had huge plans to stimulate industrial growth in the North, stressing: “Power is an important sector that must be addressed if we are to achieve our noble objective for positive development in the North and indeed Nigeria.”