The Arewa Economic Renewal Forum has said that poor leadership has been the main reason for the high poverty rate in northern Nigeria.
The Forum said this during a press conference in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, AERF President Ibrahim Yahaya said it had become compelling for anyone vying for the post of president to come up with a strategic plan to economically transform the north.
He said: “As we eagerly await the 2023 General Election with the great hope of 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. Take your fate into your own hands and restore lost glories by supporting any candidate with a viable economic plan for Arewa’s restoration.
“Over the years, Nigeria and especially the North have suffered from an epileptic form of leadership stemming from a mediocre attitude of the people elected to engineer the much desired economic prosperity by exploiting regional assets, demographic potentials, advantages geological and agricultural benefits for economic purposes, infrastructure and human development.
“The resulting consequence for our region is poverty, poor education, lack of assets to finance credit and other negative indicators of underdevelopment.
“Without doubt, the size and dimension of the population of the northern region outstrips in size any other African country apart from Nigeria itself.
“In other words, if this region had been a country of its own, it would still be the most populous country in Africa and one of the 10 most populous in the world.”
He regretted that although the northern region of the federation accounts for more than 70 percent of Nigeria’s total arable land mass, geologically created in such an advantageous way that it could allow 12 months of agriculture, since it is traversed by river basins and reservoirs aquatic. that would allow for three harvest seasons each year, only about 23 percent of the land mass is fully used for agricultural purposes.
He further stated that of the more than three million hectares of potential agricultural river basins for the dry season, less than one million hectares are used inefficiently, but Nigeria has around ten river basin development authorities in existence for over 45 years old.
He added that the inability of successive administrations to exploit these resources by incorporating human development as the most dominant factor in development planning continues to be the biggest obstacle in the region.
“Consequently, we have the worst human development index, with an estimated 87 million people living on less than $1.90 a day, but none of the world’s five highest-ranked economies (Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Iceland) are more naturally endowed than Nigeria and, indeed, the North.
“In terms of maternal mortality, Nigeria has around 512 maternal deaths per 100,000 births as of September 2022, with a large percentage of these concentrated in the north.
“In terms of education, Northern Nigeria accounts for about 70 percent of the Nigerian population of out-of-school children, with a record 13 million out of 20 million children out of school.
This trend is exacerbated by insurgency and banditry in the Northeast and Northwest.
“In terms of Access to Financing and Credit for Investment and Development of the National Financial System, the Northern Region has been consistently defrauded during the last 10 years, sometimes due to 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 favor of other regions, companies and institutions in Nigeria,” Yahaya said.
He further said that in the past five years, about seven of Nigeria’s largest banks do not accept real estate assets as collateral for any business across the north except for assets in Abuja.
“Over the past 10 years, Nigerian banks’ loan books have been similarly in favor of other regions and at the disadvantage of the entire northern region with some slight exceptions for Abuja.
“This same trend is visible in other financial institutions, including government-owned development finance institutions and special intervention funds provided by budgets or special intervention financing from the Nigerian central bank,” he said.