Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ECONOMY OF THE NORTH AND THE BURDEN OF INSECURITY


    The nineteen states that made up the old Northern Nigeria have been confronting various challenges for some time, from the problems of poverty among their citizenry, insufficient funds in the government coffers, youth unemployment, lack of infrastructures, moral break down, death of businesses to the mother of all insecurity. The north (as now a day been perceived) has become synonyms with insecurity; the simple way of living and social cohesion that the north is known for have all gone away. What remain is the north of killing, bombing, fear, suffering families, mourning of loss ones, destruction of properties, and military incursion into people way of living. The booming business and industrial atmosphere of Kano and Kaduna have been replaced by a sense of absence of certainty in investment undertakings, closure of businesses, reduced work hours, and atmosphere of terror. In the most volatile city of Maiduguri business life has been shorten, human life have become worthless, many industrial plants have been deserted, workers becomes refugees, employers of people become spectators, poverty and penury the order of the day. The north eastern city of Damaturu has become a ghost town where location after location have been deserted by people being occupy by only lizards and other reptiles, the Grozny of Nigeria. In Damaturu most workers and traders have run for their dear life to avoid becoming victims of the clash between security forces and Boko Haram. In the north central, Kogi state has become a battle field where gun shot sound has become so common, fear has taken the place of trust, neighbour spy over neighbour, and sense of abandonment have taken over.  The Nigerian capital Abuja has not been spared either, it has gotten it own share of the bombers vengeance; the police headquarters and United Nation building bombing are two prominent example of how insecurity has penetrated the hitherto relative peace of the Nigerian capital.
    Tell me how do you expect oil explorers in the desert corner of Borno state to resume exploration when there is no guarantee for security of their lives? The same thing is true with the Indians and Chinese that are doing their businesses in Kano and elsewhere in the north. The decline in the industrial output of the industries in Kano and Kaduna, though has been going on since before the inset of the present insecurity, has contributed to the increase in unemployment in those places. What any visitor to Kano or Kaduna first notice is the mammoth crowd of waiting cars and motor bikes at check points across all the corners of these cities. This is a red signal to potential investors warning them of the uncertainties in these places. At major markets in Kano some of the complains you here from traders is that the numbers of business people that are coming to Kano from other state and neighboring countries have declined since the attack of January this year. The presence of military personnel with sophisticated weaponry tells one that there is an atmosphere of war in these places. Already, on all indices for measuring human welfare, the North lagged behind the South, but the coming of the present state of insecurity has made matters worth. The education sector has been crippled many students are scared to go to their schools which previously acts as means of escape from the noise of the towns. Markets have become no go area because of the fear of the unknown; as people prefer the safety of their homes. Even rural farmers find it difficult to move their harvest to the major markets in the cities due to the fear for their lives. The North has now beaten the South in term of violence and crimes without beaten it in term of economic growth and development.
    Now that oil has been discovered in Sokoto in commercial quantities the case for the economy of the North is becoming stronger. Already there are strong indications that there are deposits of crude oil in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Kogi, Niger and Kwara states; if this turn out to be true the present precarious state of Northern economy will change for the better. And, it is going to be better for the Nigerian unity as those that are looking at others as parasite will have to look at other excuses to attack the North. This further drive home the argument that there is substantial quantity of oil in all the three geo-political zones of the North. The oil money like in the Niger Delta should be used to develop the infrastructures in the North, to make it catch up with those in the South. I, therefore, suggest the building of three new refineries one for each of Sokoto, Borno and Kogi states; this will in no small way boast the industrial potentialities of those areas. One important area that governments of the North need to pay special attention to is in generation of internal revenue; in Nigeria every body is aware of the amount of money Lagos state is generating from internal revenue sources. For some years Lagos state has been self sufficient in revenue sources to the extent that the amount it is generating from internally generated revenue (IGR) is more than what it is collecting from the federal government. In the North Kano state under the present administration of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is doing well in term of strengthening it internal sources of revenue, already according to government projection it said that by the end of this year it will be paying all its workers salaries and other entitlement from internal revenue. The amount the state is generating as at now is approaching two billion naira, with a target of three billion in the next fiscal year. Kano with all it vast potentials can be generating some where around eight billion Naira monthly if all things are put in place. Other places with high potential include Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara, Niger, Borno, and Gombe states.