Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, likened Northern Nigeria to Afghanistan in development, as he compared the region to the south in his speech on Saturday at the Northern Youth Summit organised by Northern Hibiscus Initiative, in Kaduna.
According to the Kaduna State Governor, Nigeria is made up of two countries: the developing South and a backward, less educated and unhealthy North.
”Nigeria consists of two countries; there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy northern Nigeria, and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern Nigeria. We have to speak the truth to ourselves and ask why is it that northern Nigeria has development indicators similar to Afghanistan, a country still at war?
“We have the largest number of poor people in the world, most of them in northern Nigeria. Nigeria also has the largest number of out of school children, virtually all of them in Northern Nigeria.
“Northern Nigeria has become the centre of drug abuse, gender violence, banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism. We have also been associated with a high divorce rate and breakdown of families. This is the naked truth that we have to tell ourselves,” Mr El-Rufai said.
Speaking further on the theme of the summit ’Awakening the Arewa Spirit’, the Kaduna State Governor dismissed claims of Northern Nigeria being the parasite of the Nigerian economy. He also noted that in spite of the negative statistics, northerners are generally considered to be more honest and less corrupt than other Nigerians.
”Which is not entirely true”. he said, ”Because northern Nigeria still feeds the nation. The richest businessman in Nigeria is still Aliko Dangote, not someone from Southern Nigeria, thank God for that.
”You hardly can find someone from northern Nigeria convicted of 419 or being a Yahoo boy. That is something we should be proud of,
”In addition, our demographic superiority gives us a very powerful tool to negotiate in politics. And that is something we should be proud of and we should preserve. So, we have every reason to unite and not be divided.”
El-Rufa’i said youth account for 80 per cent of the northern population as such the future of the region lies in their hands, “not in the hands of Dinosaurs like me.”
According to him, people of his age ought not to be in leadership if the youth will unite to assume their rightful place.
“In my view, we are here to prepare the next generation of leaders. That is why the agenda for this summit is very
“So, you should take the panel discussions very seriously and come up with very clear and implementable decisions that you will circulate to all of us elected to lead in Northern Nigeria.”
He said that the outcome of the summit should be forwarded to the Chairman of Northern States Governors Forum.
“We have to do something about the situation of Northern Nigeria and we must do so as a group of 19 Governors, not individual state Governors.
“I am however persuaded that, this gathering and its panel discussions will find solutions to the problems.” the governor said.
El-Rufa’i appealed to the organizers to make it an annual event, assuring that the Kaduna State Government will be happy to partly sponsor it.