Chairman, North Central Governor's Forum and Governor of Nasarawa State, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, said it's time for the zone to assert its relevance politically and economically in the country.
Engineer Sule stated this while playing host to officials of the North Central People's Forum, led by its Chairman Board of Trustees, Lt. Gen (rtd), Jeremiah T. Useni, at the Government House, on Thursday.
According to the Governor, the North Central geo-political zone can no longer be left behind but must grow its economy to compete favourably with other parts of the country.
He particularly commended the efforts of the North Central People's Forum in its effort to liberate the region economically and politically.
"I think, we shouod do it together because the governors of today are sharing the same views with you. We believe in Nigeria, but we also want to grow the economy of North Central. We want to make the North Central relevant. We have the tools, we have the people, and we have Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) now," he stated.
Engineer Sule pointed out that, today, the North Central is an oil producing zone, with the zone about to produce its oil, with the completion of the drilling of the Ebenyi-A oil in Obi, Nasarawa State, as well as other wells in Keana.
"We are competing with the North East. Now the North Central will be able to say we are contributing to the purse of what is coming to the country. We are no longer being looked upon as parasites," he added.
The Governor explained that the North Central has no business with poverty because the zone is blessed with abundant mineral resources.
He announced that the zone is planning to host its economic summit immediately after the scheduled security summit in Jos, Plateau State.
"When Nigeria was saying that we were subsidizing gasoline, we are taking out 65m liters a day, and it will shock you to know that over 70 percent of that number was committed only to Lagos. You are subsidizing Lagos as a state instead of the whole country. The whole country is taking care of Lagos.
"The financial institutions that we have today, their headquarters, are all concentrated in Lagos. We are not against Lagos. We are just explaining the need for us to also buy into this and to see how we could do that. It's not that we don't like Lagos.
"If you look at the IGR today, what Lagos is deriving as IGR is twice what the country as a whole is generating. This is the situation we find ourselves," he said.
He assured members of the forum that governors of the North Central Zone will work with them and support the forum towards repositioning the zone for the better.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the forum's Board of Trustees Chairman, Lt. Gen (rtd), Jeremiah T. Useni, said the forum was a child of necessity of the zone, saddled with the responsibility of ensuring both political and economic liberisation of the people of the zone.
Lt. Gen Useni urged the chairman of the North Central Governor's Forum to consider his organization as a veritable tool for the development of the zone.
While congratulating Engineer Sule on his recent emergence as Chairman of the North Central Governor's Forum, the retired military general charged the Governor to mobilize his colleagues from Benue, Plateau, Kogi, Kwara, and Niger, in order to strategies for the development of the region economically and politically.
"You have become a rallying point to the forum, and we look forward to your continued support so as to achieve the desired aim and objectives," Lt. Gen Useni added.
Also in a speech, former minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, decried the dwindling economic and political fortunes of the North Central Zone, which hitherto was reckoned with even during the colonial times.
"The North Central Zone is very weak today. We don't have money but we are good people. Some of the most honest and straight forward human beings in this country are here. And we have been serving Nigeria for a long time, right from the days the British looked for soldiers to go and fight their wars.
"In the last unfortunate civil war, almost 70 percent of the army came from here. But today we are very weak. We have no money. We can't boast of what other parts of the country boast of. Lagos along has 4600 branches of banks, 72 percent of Nigeria's currency circulates in Lagos," he said.
Chief Ogbe, who was the former Board chairman of the forum, noted that a democracy is not worth the paper it is written if it does not cater for the economic well-being of the people.
The former minister however commended Engineer Sule for wooing industries to Nasarawa State.
"You are doing things which are exciting all of us. Some of the industrial projects that are growing here will have an impact on Nigeria, especially this North Central area in a short while by way of jobs and happiness. You are doing some big things we read about and it excites us. Please continue," he stated.
Ogbe said the only way to save the naira from further devaluation is through export of goods and services and not importation.
"I'm extremely miserable when I hear that one dollar today is eight hundred naira. Because when we went to school, one naira was one dollar fifty cents. I am not an economists but I am always angry about the devaluation of our currency.
"It was the conspiracy of the meanest type by people from far away places who do not sincerely believe that the black man was human. We are in a mess but what you are doing will lift us up. The only way of saving the naira is by export not by import. For stopping the import of rice, I nearly paid with my dear life, foreign interest. We can do better than we are doing now," he said.
Tag: Time for North Central to assert political economic relevance Engineer Sule
Written by Omooba Alekuwodo (omoobaalekuwodo)
Published 7/15/2023 12:52:30 PM