Kaduna — President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has advanced reasons why the North remains poor in spite of its huge agricultural potential, saying over 60 per cent of people in the Northeast and Northwest live in extreme poverty.
Dangote stated this yesterday as guest speaker at the fourth Economic and Investment Summit in Kaduna, stressing that agriculture could generate more revenue and prosperity than oil if given proper attention.
His words: "It is instructive to know that the 19 Northern states, which account for over 54 per cent of the country's population and 70 per cent of its landmass collectively generated only 21 per cent of the total sub-national internally generated revenue (IGR) in 2017.
"Northern Nigeria will continue to fall behind if respective state governments do not move to close the development gap and that is why we are always saying that the biggest challenge we have and what we are always praying for is to have 10 governors like Nasir el-Rufai."He said closing the North's development gap requires multi-layer investments and government alone would not be able to muster the needed funds.
Dangote argued that only the private sector could raise the amount of capital for the kind of investment required, adding that government should create a friendly environment that would trigger huge inflows of private capital into the economy."Private investments will create jobs and will go a long way to curb unemployment and poverty. As more people get employed, there will be sharp decline in some of the social vices now prevalent in our society.
"Kaduna State is a shining example of this. While several states are taking steps in this direction, only a few like Kaduna are making visible progress."As capital of the former Northern region, Kaduna continues to lead on several matrix. The state currently has the highest West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) pass rate and second highest IGR generation in the North after Kano," he stated.
He noted that as private sector investments propel an upsurge in economic activities, the financial viability of state governments would also improve.
"The North should focus on harnessing its massive agricultural potential in terms of production and processing. No region with such agricultural potential should be this poor."We have what it takes to turn around our fortunes and I pray all the 19 governors of the Northern states will wake up and follow the Kaduna State example," he added.