We have reached a stage in our national life where all well meaning Nigerians must ponder on so many things within the confines of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recent submission on poverty rating of states. First, how Niger State emerged top lowest in poverty prevalence in the entire country despite coming from a region fast drifting into social, political and economy oblivion.
Surrounded by starving neighbours, yet it has managed to wriggle out of the snapping jaws of poverty, desolation, and unending circle of terrorism that has become the bane of states in the region to surpass states blessed with tranquil environment, better economic resources and favored revenue sharing formula to soar high as top best poverty-controlled economy in Nigeria.
Well meaning Nigerians must also ponder on the grave reality of what the monolithic North is fast sliding into. On the one hand, it is wasted by waves of terrorism, which gobbles innocent productive lives everyday. Secondly, the frail economy of the region is further shredded in piecemeal by devastation of terror acts - a resultant negatives on economic fortunes.
The lopsided revenue sharing formula is quite insufficient for the growing development needs of states in the region. With all these, the region may soon go back to the 'Stone Age' if something is not done fast, at least that is the reason for statistical analysis by the NBS.
Ninety percent of the entire population of Northern Nigerian states are poor. They survive barely on the whims of nature, just like the cavemen before civilization and just like wild beasts who chance on their prey. Northerners often wake up on daily bases with the reality of scavenging for staples on the bases of survival of the chanced and fittest.
Sokoto (81.2 percent), Katsina (74.5 percent); Adamawa (74.4 percent); Gombe (74.1 percent); Paltea (74.2 percent); Jigawa (74.1 percent); Bauchi (73 percent); Kebbi (72 percent) and Zamfara (70.8 percent). The result is abysmal and a reflection of the need to stabilize the revenue sharing formula aptly advocated by the Niger State governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, earlier to mitigate the harrowing prevalence of poverty in the North.
For Niger State, it is not a competition but a way of life under the servant leadership style of government adopted by the Chief Servant. It is the natural resultant attribute of hard work and going beyond all odds to ensure a stable life for the people. His policy of ward development programme brings dividends of democracy to all 274 wards across all 25 local government areas of the state.
Also, the state government policy of creating jobs for unemployed certificate holders from polytechnics, colleges of education and universities all contribute to the high-level performance recorded by the Chief Servant administration in controlling prevalence of poverty in the state.
Niger State falls among the category of states with the list allocation from the Federal Government, just like its sister states in the North. With a very huge wage bill for the thousands of civil servants, the state thrives hard against odds and has presently achieved more than 75 percent of its Vision 3:2020 of becoming one of the top best economies in Nigeria by the year 2020. The Chief Servant is only able to achieve optimal result based on his ability to manage resources and his tenacious position against 'divide and share politics'.
In the 2013 fiscal year, among several changes, Niger State is set to galvanize its economic fortunes through agriculture. This will include involvement of machines for mechanized farming among grassroots farmers and engagement of youths under the Youth Engagement for Agriculture (YEEP) programme which will train beneficiaries to become professionals in the sector.
Despite experiencing myriads of blackmail from the platoons of business-minded politicians against his position on service and accountability, the Niger State governor insists on standing firm on his resolve to fight the "business as usual" syndrome of prebendal politicians which has led to systemic rot and vicious circle of poverty in the state and Nigeria.
The result of these sad statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics should make advocates of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), antagonists of new revenue sharing formula to rethink in the interest of the Nigerian state except if they are interested in turning the once prosperous region into a wasteland loaded with destitute, the sick and dying and utterly destroyed existence of modernity.
Just as Governor Aliyu often submits when responding to those who feel he has done enough in the last five years as governor, he insists he is only moving to the desired destination and that his effort is for future governors of the state to consolidate on the present achievements.
Posterity will therefore sit in judgment for those who would turn a blind eye to the vicious circle of poverty in the North. Let the effort of all stakeholders count in the direction of a rescue mission for states in the North. The governors of the affected states are probably doing their best but with limited resources what will their effort amount to?
-Ebije is Senior Special Assistant (Media Analysis) to the Niger State Governor