Saturday, September 12

Nigeria’s past visionary leaders left good names, not estates, says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on Nigerian leaders to do all it takes to win the people’s heart rather than enriching themselves with state resources.

He made the call on Satuday during the opening session of Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) Summit at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

Osinbajo recalled that Nigeria’s founding fathers in the North such as Sir Ahamu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Mallam Aminu Kano, J. S. Tarka laid plans and worked selflessly to realize the varied issues afflicting their regions.

The Vice President, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said: “Our history reminds us of the visionary leaders in Nigeria, who fired our imagination through their vision, diligence and selfless service, who did not live or fight to enrich themselves, they did not leave vast personal estates behind, but their names and legacies live in the hearts of the people.”

He commended the present crop of Nigerian leaders who have committed themselves to such selflessness and vision, as he applauded the theme of the Summit, “Building a Safe, Secure and Economically Inclusive Northern Nigeria”,

Osinbajo also lamented the derailment from the foundations set by the founding fathers which has led to the challenges confronting the country today.

He said: “Nigeria is a nation of 170 million people, the sixth largest producer of oil, over a hundred varieties of solid minerals and precious metals, hundreds of thousands of hectares of arable land, the largest economy in Africa, yet desperately poor.”

Noting that the challenges are the same across the country, he said: “The difference is not of a kind but in degrees”.

He explained that in the nineteen Northern States of Nigeria, the human development indices “are by far poorer than the rest of the country”.

“The Northern states occupy about 70% of the land mass of the country, they also have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country, the lowest rate of child enrollment in schools, highest number of unemployed young people, highest levels of poverty and faces the challenge of inter-ethic and inter-religious conflict including the Boko Haram terrorism.”

The Northern Nigerian Economic Summit of 2012, he said, was the first fora to draw attention to some of the depressing statistics about the condition of the North.

Based on the conclusions of the Summit, he said that the North had some of the largest numbers of the out-of-school figures in the world.

“Dismal as some of these conditions might be, it does not have to define our future or that of our children”. He said

He assured that the Federal Government was committed to all issues that affect the life of Nigerians in any part of the country, stressing that the Buhari Administration has been very active in interventions in the North East, due to the immediacy of the crisis in the area.

Harping on the need for short term immediate strategy to alleviate hardship and long term plan to build the infrastructure that most closely affects the economic life of the most vulnerable citizens.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Forum, Hon. Mohammed Umara Kumalia, said that discussions at the Summit will help in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the North.

He also said that the 2013 World Bank Report had shown that the North has the highest poverty index in the country, which the Forum seeks to redress.

Alhaji Kashim Shettima, the Governor of Borno State, said that the panacea for the backwardness and poverty of the North is addressing the problem of agriculture and agro-allied industry and creative ventures in the region.

He also said there was need for a paradigm shift from elite nature of the North to embrace the poor segment of the region.

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