Presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) in the 2019 general elections, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, yesterday blamed northern political elite for the region’s poverty and underdevelopment.
Besides, Moghalu, a former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) questioned the quest of northern leaders to constantly hold on to power at the central when an average citizen in their region still live in abject poverty.
He made the assertion as guest speaker at Ra’ayi Initiative for Human Development annual lecture in Kano, saying he was worried over the North’s state of education and socio-economic disparity with other regions of the country.
Speaking on “Northern Nigeria’s Prosperity in the 21st Century: The Imperative of Social and Economic Transformation”, Moghalu said statistics showed that the north accounts for 67 per cent poverty in the country, worsened by devastating security threats and high rate of unemployment.
“Statistics has shown that over 92 million Nigerians are leaving under $2 per day, which has made Nigeria to overtake India in a dubious distinction. With the assertion that Nigeria is now capital poverty state, it is regrettable that Northern Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the poverty capital in the world.
“If you check the UNDP data, North West has 80 per cent poverty rate, North East (76 per cent) and North Central (45 per cent). On the aggregate, Northern Nigeria has 67 per cent poverty rate against Southern part, which has 24 per cent, South West (19 per cent), South-South (25 per cent) and South East (27 per cent).
“The problem is further compounded by low level of education, which was degraded by government policy on less educational disadvantage. This has largely rendered many young people in the north uncompetitive with their southern counterparts,” he stated.
Moghalu, therefore, advocated utmost commitment to human capital development as a major priority and solution for Northern Nigeria to overcome poverty and backwardness.
He challenged northerners to hold their political leaders accountable and demand quality leadership that provides socio-economic transformation of the region.
He supported agitation for state police and resource control in the region, which he argued, would enable the federating units to become self-reliant and grow at their own pace.
“We can bring back our lost glory in agriculture and industrialisation, if the region develops its own resources instead of relying on monthly allocation from oil wealth that will not last for ever,” he added.
Chairman, Ra’ayi Initiative for Human Development, Dr. Ibrahim Musa, expressed concern over the 3.5 million out-of-school children in the North and collapse of industries, which he said, worsened the region’s economic stability.
While lamenting under utilisation of 20 dams with less than 30 per cent capacity in Kano, he advocated urgent government attention to address the situation.