At a Northern Youth Summit, El-Rufai Again Expresses Need for Restructuring

After 18 months of submitting his panel’s report to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the need to dispense with the subsisting pseudo-federal structure which virtually all the geo-political blocs see as an impediment to national cohesion and economic progress, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has again tactically harped on the need for a speedy restructuring of Nigeria.

At a summit of Northern youths, Governor El-Rufai who headed the APC committee, said Nigeria as presently constituted consists of two unequal countries. According to him, ‘’there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy Northern Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy Southern Nigeria.’’

The APC panel on True Federalism however, made some sweeping recommendations to save the glaring two unequal parts. They proposed the devolution of powers to the federating units and a measure of resource control. To boost this, they recommended state police, which is to operate ‘’alongside the federal police.’’

The El-Rufai panel also viewed the current Exclusive Legislative List, which has 68 items as a bastardisation of federalism. Many citizen groups hailed this as a good judgment.

The theme of the summit was Awakening the Arewa Spirit which the governor said was very timely, pointing out, ‘’when we talk about awakening the spirit, it means the spirit is either sleeping or dead.

‘’Looking at the statistics, Nigeria appears to be a middle income country, but if we segregate those statistics across states and zones, you will see that in terms human development indicators, Nigeria consist of two countries; there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy Northern Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern Nigeria.’’

Though he described the North as backward, uneducated and unhealthy, he added that the region was feeding Nigeria, producing its richest citizen, the northerners less involved in fraud and the north being the most populous region.

At the summit which was organised by Northern Hibiscus Initiative in Kaduna, the outspoken governor insisted that the North has made Nigeria a country of nations: ‘’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. Nigeria has 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 high divorce rate and breakdown of families.

‘’These are the challenges that confront us. This is the naked truth that we have to tell ourselves. We must therefore as leaders at all levels, have conversation about the way forward for our part of the country. Because increasingly, as many of you must have seen on social media, we are being considered as the parasite of the federal economy, even though, that is not entirely true.

‘’This is because Northern Nigeria still feeds the nation. The richest business man in Nigeria is still Aliko Dangote not someone from Southern Nigeria, thank God for that. 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.

‘’So, we still have a lot to be proud of. We should be proud of our culture and tradition, as well as unity. You hardly can find someone from Northern Nigeria convicted of 419 or being a Yahoo boy. That is something we should be proud of.’’

Continuing, the Kaduna governor said youths account for 80 per cent of the northern population, pointing out that the future of the region lies in their hands and not in the hands of Dinosaurs like him, adding that 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 important. 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.

The outcome of the summit, according to him, should be forwarded to the Chairman of Northern 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’’, he said.


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