Bala Fatimah Kawu
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum and elder statesman, has said the northern region of Nigeria leads the other parts of the country across entire indices of poverty, despite having held power more than the other regions.
According to him, other regions were fond of blaming northerners for their problems when the North has the highest number of poor people.
Yakasai said though the North had produced more leaders compared to the South, it had far more developmental challenges than those of other regions.
Speaking on Thursday at an online conference themed ‘The 2nd Never Again Conference: 51 years after the Nigerian-Biafran civil war’, hosted by Nzuko Umunna, an Igbo Think Tank, in partnership with Ovation International and Njenje Media, he urged Nigerians leaders to institute processes to address multiple fractional tendencies in the country.
He spoke: "Some southerners have accused the North of ploys to dominate leadership positions and treat other regions of the country as second-class citizens. They have also alleged that the North was against the proposed restructuring of the country because it benefits from the current system, which they believe is unfair and unproductive.
"Meanwhile, despite having ruled the country longer than the South, the North is said to have higher number of out-of-school children, higher poverty and illiteracy rates, especially with the Almajiri system," he said.
Responding to comments by Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, both of whom accused the North of shying away from the compelling need to restructure the country, Yakasai said,“I’m a northerner but we are the most unlucky people in this country."
He spoke: “Most people blame us for their problems but we are the poorest in the country. I was reading recently the number of billionaires in Nigeria and out of 10, eight were from the South and only two were from the North; Aliko Dangote and Abdul Samad Rabiu of BUA Group.
“We have been in power more than any other ethnic group. The fact is that we held power more than anybody yet we became the poorest,” he said.
According to the northern leader, although, people could disagree during discourse about national issues, people should always create time to attend such events and contribute “because it is our collective contribution that would make the aggregate of the ideas that we want to sell to the country.”
Yakasai equally explained though the Nigerian Civil War ended over 50 years ago, the mistrust among major sub-regional groups remained a threat to the democratic process.
His words: “We need to learn from the Civil War of 51 years ago and address squarely the fractional tendencies in the country today. Unity, peace, trust, justice, democracy and development must be made to work for Nigeria to keep it stronger.”