…charges Northern Govs to turn the tide
By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Chairman of Northern States Governors Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, has expressed regrets over the state of institutions and corporate interests set up by Sardauna Ahmadu Bello for the benefit of the people, saying some of these institutions are struggling to survive while others have already gone aground.
He therefore, charged his colleagues not to “allow the situation to go beyond this, hence the need for us to take a deep look at what we can do to turn the tide.”
Lalong spoke on Thursday during the Governors meeting in Kaduna, where President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by his Chief of staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Other dignitaries at the meeting were the Inspector General of Police, Mr.Mohammed Adamu, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the DG of DSS, Yusuf Bichi, emirs and chiefs from the region ,among others .
According to Hon. Lalong, “just yesterday, I was at the Ahmadu Bello University and the Kaduna Polytechnic where the stories further confirmed the urgent need for intervention. Perhaps there is no place that this intervention is most needed than in turning our huge population to an advantage where our people engaged to contribute to the growth of the region and the nation,” he said.
He explained that youth engagement has therefore, become an emergency that they must manage with all sense of duty to avoid unpleasant consequences of inaction or non-challance.
“We do not have the luxury of time to wait any longer,’ he said.
Lalong lamented that the Northern region has continues to carry ,perhaps the heaviest burden of development in the country where the indices for quality of life are low within a large percentage of its population.
He regretted that insecurity has become a clog in the wheel of progress such that farming which is a major preoccupation of Northerners, was being hampered.
According to the Governor, “you will recall that we have met here severally to discuss issues that affect us directly as the North and generally as a Nation. We put in place different Committees to examine some of these issues and report to the Forum.”
“In our last enlarged meeting with Chairmen of Traditional Councils in the north and representatives of National Assembly, we agreed to take two days to come back to Kaduna to receive these reports and discuss them extensively. I want to register our sincere appreciation to the Governor of Kaduna State for once again hosting this meeting.
“In addition to inviting Mr. President to declare this event opened, we have invited the Chairmen of Council of Emirs and Chiefs in Northern Nigeria, Representatives of the National Assembly from the region and other critical stakeholders to address us on various issues from their perspectives so as to assist us engage in robust discourse that will benefit our people and the entire nation.
“Let me therefore register our profound appreciation to the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari and all our invitees for honouring our invitation to be part of this historic gathering. History will not forget this sacrifice and love you have demonstrated for the Northern region and Nigeria.
” Our region continues to carry perhaps the heaviest burden of development in the country where the indices for quality of life are low within a large percentage of our population. Statistics have shown that we have a long way to go in terms of education, healthcare delivery, infrastructural development, food security, industrialization and human capital development among others. All these are exacerbated by the insecurity that has bedeviled us and the entire nation for many years now.
“This is why at several periods, we set up various Committees to look into specific issues and advise us on what kind of measures to adopt in changing the narrative. I am glad that at this meeting, we shall be receiving and considering several reports from those committees with a view to charting a new way forward. Some of the reports we are receiving are from the committees.
He said the Committees have done substantial work on the assignments given to them and will thus give them a lot to work with in resolving some of the challenges confronting the region.
“Besides, their recommendations will also help us project a common position on national issues in such a way as to strengthen national unity and galvanise support towards a holistic approach that will guarantee results.”
“May I therefore remind us all that some of the issues mentioned above are not peculiar to our region, but the ways we handle them will to a large extent shape how they are resolved at the National level.”
“For instance, the issue of insecurity has become a clog in the wheel of progress such that farming which is a major preoccupation of our people is being hampered. The result is that the economy of the nation is gradually being affected and food security also jeopardized.”
“That is why we have remained resolute is supporting and advising the Federal Government, collaborating with relevant security agencies and also using opportunities at our disposal to work for a more secured nation.”
“Just last week, we met here in Kaduna to engage the heads of security agencies on the way forward just as we did during the tenure of the former Service Chiefs. We shall continue to engage other stakeholders as we seek solutions to the cases of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, and other criminal activities.
“The recent ugly incidences of kidnap school children in Government Science Secondary School Kagara, Niger State as well as travelling passengers further reminds us of the difficult situation we face and the need for us to redouble our efforts in overcoming them. This meeting provides us the opportunity to do so.
“On the issue of herder-farmer clashes which has in recent weeks generated serious concerns because of the harsh rhetoric from various parts of the country, we remain firm that this is a matter that must be carefully addressed with an open mind and without sentiments. While we agree that open grazing is no longer sustainable for obvious reasons, the Forum has also keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) as a veritable option that will go a long way in ending these clashes through organised ranching.
“We therefore continue to appeal to our colleagues in other parts of the country and indeed all Nigerians particularly opinion leaders to be cautious in their utterances and actions so as not to provide the oxygen for the exploitation of our fault lines to the detriment of our nation. At all times, we must identify, isolate and punish crime no matter who commits it rather than resort to labeling and generalization that shields the criminals and generates tension for the innocent.
“As for enhancing the economy of the North, we should be able to rise from this meeting with concrete steps to take on how best to create opportunities for our teeming youth population. We must ensure that we productively engage our people by reviving our moribund industries that once employed thousands as well as see to it that agriculture is driven by value chain addition. We have the manpower and potentials to not only end poverty and hunger, but also drive the economic diversification of the nation in line with the policy direction of the Federal Government.
“Because education plays a pivotal role in the development of any nation, this meeting should draw our attention to new measures we need to introduce to radically change the quality, quantity and character of education we give our people. The days of paper-qualifications are over as we need to give skills to our graduates to enable them practically apply their skills for national development. This is in addition to ensuring that the girl child is given priority in education while the unacceptably high rate of out-of-school children in our region is drastically altered immediately.
“At this meeting, we are hoping to put to rest the issue of the Almajiri phenomenon in line with our resolve and actions taken last year which saw us returning Almajiri children across the Northern States back to their original States. Despite the successes we recorded, we have to consolidate and ensure that the returned children are fully integrated into the regular system and further windows for resurgence are completely blocked.