From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Three North West governors, yesterday admitted that the zone was pulling the country backward as well as constituting a clog in the wheel of her development.
They spoke in view of arrays of socio-economic problem facing the region which they said appeared unsolvable over the years.
This was the submission of Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Kano State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Zamfara governor, Abdulhazeez Yari.
The trio spoke at plenary session as discussants on the topic: “The integration of the North West Zone” at the second day of Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit.
They noted that the high rate of illiteracy, infant mortality, maternity mortality and morbidity, army of Almajaris, among other social menace are some those that have made North-west a clog in the wheel of development of the nation.
Ganduje said his state alone was being tormented by over three million Almajarais (street beggars), adding that most of them were from neighbouring countries.
On his part, El-Rufai said: “Unless we recognise that and come together, and address our common challenges, we will continue to pull Nigeria backward, in my opinion, and that is the last thing we want.
“And this is why, very early in the administration, we approached ARDP to help us put together a group of thinkers, experienced technocrats to think through these problems and help us map out an agenda because as Dr. Bugaje pointed out, the North-west has the largest density of water resources in Nigeria, in fact, in the west Africa sub-region. So by constructing small dams and focusing on agriculture, we will be able to feed, not only Nigeria, but most of the sub-regions.”
Zamfara Governor, Abdulhazeez Yari, said North-west integration was important and key.
“We have advantage than any other zone in the country when it come to agriculture. We have the land, we have the people, we are the most populous zone, so we have to take advantage of that. When you talk about education, in the north, we are backward and we have comparative advantage from one state to the other…”