At the beginning of this month, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno, led a five-member delegation of the Northern States Governors’ Forum to the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The visit was sequel to a decision of the Forum to seek the assistance of the IsDB, in finding the resources to tackle challenges facing the North in areas like agriculture, education, poverty, maternal mortality and empowerment issues that have been complicated by the Boko Haram insurgency and the changing patterns of weather as they affect the North.
The livelihood of nomadic groups has been seriously eroded and their migration into the hinterlands has led to increasingly bitter conflicts with sedentary agricultural communities. Similarly, the drying up of the Lake Chad has also endangered the lives of millions of people who depend on it. These problems have also fed into the Boko Haram crisis. Against this background, the Northern Governors chose to act. Poverty has deepened in the North and the economic choices made in recent decades have led to de-industrialisation of our region. Jobs have disappeared and the industries that led to vibrant economic activities have collapsed leading to the decay of industrial communities. There is a huge population of young Northerners who have no hope, are angry and are readily available for recruitment by radical religious groups.
Luckily, the current set of Northern Governors are young and have very good education, which allowed them to understand the seriousness of the issues affecting the region. In the weeks leading to the trip, I was part of a team of Northern intellectuals and technocrats that was given the responsibility to put together the comprehensive document that was presented by Kashim Shettima and his team to the Islamic Development bank.
The feedback was that the trip was useful but there must be concerted follow up work to ensure that the IsDB releases the funds to assist the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Northern Nigeria, especially the areas caught up in the Boko Haram insurgency.