Stakeholders from the 19 states of the North on Wednesday lamented insecurity, disunity, backwardness and other social issues militating against the development of the region.
They have therefore appealed to leaders of the region to negotiate with candidates of various political parties for infrastructural development and other interests that would move the region regain its glory.
The stakeholders spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference in Abuja organized by a pro-northern group, Arewa New Agenda, ANA.
While decrying the erosion of the unity that once held the North together, they also bemoaned the inability of their leaders to set in motion, steps towards addressing the problems facing the region.
According to the Secretary General, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Alhaji Murtala Aliyu, the region must “reinforce its confidence and negotiate with the country’s political leadership to ensure its speedy development.”
This is as he regretted that for long leaders from the North had pursued “narrow and personal interest as against the interest of the people of the area.”
His position was corroborated by the Director, Arewa House, Dr. Shuaibu Aliyu, whose submission observed that the region remains the binding force unifying the country.
While regretting that the region had been abandoned for long, Aliyu pointed out that the area can “comfortably compete with the rest of the world if its agro-sector is developed.”
Also, Convener of the conference, Senator Ahmad Moallahyidi explained that with a land mass of 98.3 million hectares, of which 82 million is arable, the region can feed not just Nigeria, but the entire West African sub-region.
“Since more than two-thirds of Nigerian land is in Northern Nigeria, it is quite evident that the North holds the key to food security, fight to end hunger and malnutrition and therefore the way to sustained agriculture-led growth to curb hunger,” he said.
Retired Permanent Secretary and Special Adviser on Social Investment to the Plateau State Government, Dr. Sumaya Hamza urged leaders of the North to brace up for action rather than the usual rhetorics.
She said: “Time for rhetorics is past. Now is Time for action
“Arewa has to refocus and give Nigeria the needed push to move forward as the region determines who becomes the President.
“Nigeria, especially the North is endowed with huge resources. Unfortunately, what she lacks is teamwork and this we need to inculcate these attributes that built advanced societies into ourselves.
“North has learnt enough lessons to allow it re-strategise for future generations,” Hamza stressed as she identified Nigeria’s rich cultural diversity as tool for tourism.
She however lamented the region’s refusal to carry women and youths along, insisting that “the women of the region must make themselves relevant,” as she advocated for equal opportunities for all including persons living with disability.
“Nurturing our political seedlings is a collective responsibility and it must be done in unity,” she stressed.
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