Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has challenged the North Central geopolitical zone to evolve a strategy geared towards regional integration and economic development.
The ruling party urged the zone, comprising Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Plateau, Niger, Benue states and the FCT, to tap into its abundant mineral deposits to give the country an alternative to oil revenues.
The APC National Vice Chairman (North Central), Sulaiman Wambai, who gave the charge lamented that the zone was losing billions of naira due to lack of economic development agenda.
He called on governors, lawmakers, ministers and party leaders from the zone to come together through strategic engagement in policies and programmes that would benefit the people in the zone and the country at large.
Wambai spoke in Abuja during the North Central Zonal meeting/mini convention, where the position of the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, was also ratified.
Issa-Onilu had since replaced the former NPS, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018. The APC National Executive Committee (NEC) zoned the position to Kwara State in the North Central.
Wambai further noted that the global economic development showed clearly that the immediate future of Nigeria depended on the zone than oil in the South-South which the country had relied on.
“While it is true that we rely mainly on oil from the South-South geo-political zone for national revenue, no one can deny the fact that the North Central remains the food basket of the nation. There are a lot our states can do and achieve together if we work closely to take advantage of our resources. We can gain a lot economically if we use our location to our collective advantage.
“Each of our states in the zones has better and bigger arable land than Kebbi State. It is a surprise that billions of Nigeria money is being deployed to Kebbi State through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrower Programme for agriculture and rice production.
“Our zone should naturally attract these billions with the land we have to grow rice. Our state government can take full economic advantage of this through collective bargaining. We lose huge revenue that could come from our location because we currently do not have a North Central agenda for economic development. We are due for an economic summit in the zone. We urge our governors to look into it,” he noted.
The zonal chairman, however, said that the North Central is most-politically stable to the ruling party than other zones and deserved better placement in appointments.
“If we want to mitigate the full contribution of our zone to be equitable with our reward, we need to have a better and more improved synergy with our legislatures, governors, as well as the party. By doing so, we would take full advantage of the national policy by getting better ministries, agencies and parastatals,” he added.
While acknowledging Lafia, Nassarawa state capital as the headquarters of the APC North Central zone, Wambai proposed that for administrative convenience, an office be cited in Abuja for secretarial work and meetings.