From the North-east to the North-west and to the North-central, efforts are being made day and night to return the North to its rightful place, politically and economically. One of those efforts culminated in a three-day summit on “Strategy for a constructive engagement to save the collapsing Northern economy, socio-political and educational standard,” which ended last Saturday, in Kano.
It was organised by the Northern Development Focus Initiative (NDFI), led by the former military administrator of the defunct North-west state, Alhaji Usman Faruk.
Ordinarily, coming about five days after the attack on the emir of Kano, one would have expected a large turn out of Northern leaders on the occasion, including the 19 Northern states governors. But it turned out to be the most poorly attended gathering in the North in recent times, since the effort to rebuild the North began in the face of the Boko Haram activities.
Apart from former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who was not in the country and had since informed the organisers of the event long before the period that he was not going to be available, only General Mohammed Buhari (rtd.) showed up, of all the former leaders of the region that were invited.
Also, not a single governor, including the host governor, was physically present throughout the duration of the three-day summit. Instead, only about three of them, including the host governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, sent in their representatives.
In spite of the fact that it was poorly attended, the essence of the summit was not lost on the organisers, as the Chairman of the group, Faruk, called on the Federal Government to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry, to look into the remote causes of security challenge, confronting the region, with a view to bringing all culprits to book.
In his welcome address, the former military administrator also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to institute what he termed a “Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Restoration Commission” for the North, which he noted, would address the problems, affecting the 19 Northern states.
While charging participants to always tell the truth about situation of things in the country, Faruk, who wants the Federal Government to initiate a policy for compulsory primary and secondary education in the North, also observed that about 70 per cent of Northern children are illiterate. This is even as he berated President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo for their failure to visit Borno, Yobe and Plateau States, in the wake of the insurgence that seized the states.
To this end, he called on the Northern governors to immediately seize the initiative to pay a sympathy visit to the crisis-ridden states of the North like Borno, Yobe, Plateau, Bauchi, Kano, Gombe and Adamawa, among others.
Speaking on the occasion, Buhari said even though the Northern part of the country was currently bugged down by a myriad of problems, it could still come out of it, if some measures were immediately put in place. He, therefore, urged the Northern elite to always see problems of the youth as those affecting them (elite) also, adding that “we must stand and face our responsibilities.”
While calling on those in positions of authority to always make sure that public interest was paramount in the discharge of their duties, he also regretted the fact that qualitaty education had eluded the country. Said he: “As long as there are no good policies, governing the educational system in the country, there is no way quality education can be achieved.
Nigeria has all the potentials to be a great nation but unfortunately people are not ready to evolve seriously planned programmes to assist the development of the nation,” Buhari said, adding that all states of the federation should always remain focused and be patriotic, so as to evolve a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria. On his part, Kano State Deputy Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who represented his boss on the occasion, called on the Federal Government to set up a commission that would look into the issues of agriculture, drought and education in the region.
His Niger State counterpart, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, who also represented the Niger State Governor, noted that “we are probably taking much time, lamenting problems, facing us, instead of us to come up with concrete actions to proffer solutions to the problems.”
While calling on Northern leaders to devise innovative means of tackling the myriad of problems confronting it, the Niger State Governor, also wants Northern leaders to focus more attention on how to develop the educational sector in the region.
At the end of the three-day Summit, the organisers came up with a communiqué where it charged all the 19 Northern states governors to unite, with a view to taking the destiny of the region in their hands, to promote and enhance peace and development of the region.
While recommending death penalty or life imprisonment as a way of curbing corruption and high cost of governance in the country, the group also formally called for the institution of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look at the remote and immediate causes of insecurity and conflicts in the Northern region; just as it wants the states in the North to return to agriculture, to save the region’s economy from imminent collapse.