The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has expressed concern over the poverty in the country despite her position as the largest economy in Africa, immense population and status as the sixth largest producer of oil.
Speaking at the Northern Reawakening Forum Summit on Saturday at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Osinbajo observed that in the 19 Northern States of Nigeria, the human development indices “are by far poorer than the rest of the country.”
But he stressed that the challenges are the same across the country, saying “the difference is not of a kind but in degrees,” according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande.
Osijbajo however assured that the Federal Government is committed to tackling issues that affected the life of Nigerians in any part of the country.
He said, “The Northern States occupy about 70 per cent of the land mass of the country, they also have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country, the lowest rate of child enrolment in schools, highest number of unemployed young people, highest levels of poverty and faces the challenge of inter-ethic and inter-religious conflict including the Boko Haram terrorism.”
The VP Vice said the Northern Nigerian Economic Summit of 2012 was the first fora to draw attention to some of the depressing statistics about the condition of the North.
According to him, the Buhari Administration has been very active in interventions in the North-East, due to the immediacy of the crisis in that axis of the nation.
He stated the need for short term strategy of immediate hardship alleviation as well as a long term plan to build the infrastructure that most closely affected the economic life of the most vulnerable citizens.
Besides, the VP said there is also the need to build institutions that would make more of an impact in the years to come and beyond.
Osinbajo called on Nigerian leaders to aspire to win the people’s heart rather than enrich themselves with state resources.
Osinbajo recalled Nigerian founding fathers in the North such as “Sir Ahamu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Mallam Aminu Kano, J. S. Tarka and countless others who clearly understood the varied issues afflicting the region, thought through them, laid the plans and worked selflessly to realize them.”
He commended the present crop of Nigerian leadership to such selflessness and vision.
Applauding the theme of the Summit, “Building a Safe, Secure and Economically Inclusive Northern Nigeria”, the VP decried the derailment from the foundations set by the founding fathers which has led to the challenges confronting the country.
The Chairman of the Forum, Mohammed Kumalia, said discussions at the Summit would help in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the North.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, the Governor of Borno State, said the panacea for the backwardness and poverty of the North is addressing the problem of agriculture and agro-allied industry as well as creative ventures in region.