By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Worried by the general insecurity and poverty ravaging the country, the Northern elites, under the aegis of Arewa New Agenda (ANA), are set to engage the Federal government with a view to setting proposals on how to proffer enduring solutions to the issues.
The proposals, according to the Northern Elders, will pave the way for lasting prosperity for the North in particular and the country in general, if earnestly considered and implemented.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed revealed this at the weekend in Abuja while declaring open the Follow-on Conference Tackling Poverty in Northern Nigeria convened by ANA in Abuja.
The ANA, Ahmed pointed out, would engage the Federal government with a view to implementing the proposals for an enduring solution to the poverty question in the North.
Speaking at the conference which attracted other personalitiez like former governors Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and Sani Yerima of Zamfara State, Sen. Jonathan Zwingina, Hon. Babangida Nguruoje, former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi; Amb. Fatima Adams; and Chairman, National Hajj Commission, Jalal Arabi among several others, Ahmed explained that an agreement had already be reached on the issue.
According to the ex-SGF, “We agreed and submitted to the service of Nigeria and to the upliftment of the northern part of Nigeria, not because we are broken but it’s because we are realists.
“We want to change our style and strategies in dealing with the issues and problems of northern Nigeria.
“Our responsibility is not to just say the Government is not working, government must work through our contributions, the government must be responsible through our being responsible, the government must be committed through our commitment.
“We are a patriotic group of Nigerians, the outcomes of these efforts will be communicated to the people that are in power for improvement of the generality of the people”, he said.
The Convener of ANA, Sen. Ahmad MoAllahyidi, while presenting the proposals explained that it was the outcome of the first ANA one-day dialogue of November 2023 where the concerns of the elders about the northern youth restiveness, crimes and criminality ravaging the region that have continued to deepen poverty in the region were reviewed to determine a way forward.
He said further that the elders, as a result of this, have formulated proposals, which include the pathway to prosperity approach that involves matching vulnerable households and communities with the necessary skills to actively participate in the local economy.
He said in the first instance the initiative will support 100,000 vulnerable Households per State to increase production and productivity within 15 months.
The second proposal, according to him, pertains to farming and agriculture, recognizing that northern Nigeria, like the majority of the country, relies heavily on agriculture as its primary economy.
According to MoAllahyidi, despite Nigeria’s agrarian nature, only 35% of its arable land is currently cultivated, ANA proposes aligning with the Federal government’s goal to expand arable land in the country to 65% within four years.
The group, he added, will also suggest to the government, the establishment of Integrated Enterprising Productivity Inclusion Platforms in each of the 19 Northern States.
The initiative is projected to generate approximately 10 million jobs for both youth and other demographics.
MoAllahyidi said: “The model has the potential to generate over N50 trillion cumulative per capital income annually, while insurgency, banditry and other social vices will be reduced drastically.
“It will also boost our foreign reserve earnings and stabilize our economy
“Training of youths on renewable energy systems (Solar, Wind and Biomass) as a component of livelihoods enhancement and a response to climate change.
“Passing-on the gift is a social intervention concept and the anticipated result from the scheme is to service up to 1000 households per State for the 19 States.
“Another proposal is the Tissue culture for propagation of seedlings which is a simplified neglected intervention. This is a concept that builds an average of 2 million seedlings a year using micropropagation”, he said.
Furthermore, ANA emphasized the importance of the Federal government actively supporting the northern States in leveraging the Nigerian Start-Up for Businesses Act of 2022 which would enable companies in the region to conduct research, provide training, and develop globally impactful products.
“Northern State will receive immediate benefit by having its young companies founded under the Start-up Act to develop unique products or services and bring them to the market”, he added.
ANA has however appealed to the Federal Government to reconsider some of its policy measures, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions on Niger Republic, particularly the closure of borders, noting that the reconsideration is necessary due to the negative implications for the economy of the States in the north.
While endorsing the Federal government’s decision to temporarily suspend the National Social Investment Program (NSIP), ANA emphasized the program’s vital role as a critical intervention by the Federal Government.
Noting that it is imperative to urge the Committee reviewing the program to be proactive in fulfilling its mandate, MoAllahyidi said, “It is important to urge the Committee reviewing the program to take a deep dive into the functionality and the social impact of the program so that it can reach the targeted vulnerable households that are much in need.
“This will enable the program to deliver on its mandate in the face of the worsening economic situation in the country.