Looking inwards to develop: A compelling alternative vision for Northern Nigeria

Umar Ardo
Umar Ardo
Looking inwards to develop: A compelling alternative vision for Northern Nigeria

By Umar Ardo, Ph.D

Introduction:

This is a proposal for a symposium with the theme: “Looking Inwards to Develop: A Compelling Alternative Vision for Northern Nigeria.” It aims to address the pressing challenges over the years facing the region, including poverty and deprivation, illiteracy and insecurity, and poor governance, all on account of it’s over dependence on oil to the neglect of its huge potentials in human capital, agriculture, animal husbandry, mineral resources, technology and commerce.

In recent years, Northern Nigeria, like the rest of the country, has been facing challenges stemming from its heavy reliance on oil as a primary source of revenue. Despite possessing good climate, abundant natural resources in agriculture, animal husbandry, mineral resources, commerce and a vast untapped labour force, the region has not been able to fully explore the potentials of these sectors for its economic and material development. This symposium aims to shed light on the importance of looking inwards and diversifying the region’s economy to unlock its full potentials.

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By shifting the focus towards developing our large human capital, agriculture, animal husbandry, mineral resources, technology and commerce, Northern Nigeria can create sustainable economic growth, cut its dependency on oil revenues, create employment opportunities for its large labour force and develop its society. Through innovative strategies, investment in infrastructure and capacity building, the region can harness its natural resources to drive inclusive development and improve the livelihoods of its people.

This symposium will bring together policymakers, industry experts, academics, and stakeholders to explore alternative visions for the development of Northern Nigeria. By fostering dialogue, sharing best practices and identifying opportunities for collaboration, the symposium hopes to inspire actionable solutions that will pave the way for a more prosperous and sustainable future for the region.

Also, by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders of policymakers, academics, civil society organizations and community leaders, the symposium seeks to explore innovative solutions and propose a compelling alternative development vision for Northern Nigeria.

Key Sub-themes:

The following will be the key sub-themes for the symposium:

1. Leveraging Human Capital for Sustainable Development:

This sub-theme focuses on the importance of investing in education, skills training, and healthcare to harness the potential of the region’s large human resource base. Education is a fundamental driver of development and social progress. The symposium will highlight the importance of investing in quality education and promoting literacy in Northern Nigeria. Participants will discuss innovative approaches to improving access to education, enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, and empowering youth with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. Discussions could revolve around strategies to empower the workforce, promote entrepreneurship, and enhance productivity through human capital development.

2. Transforming Agriculture and Animal Husbandry for Economic Growth:

This sub-theme explores the role of agriculture and animal husbandry in driving economic development and food security in the region. With its good climate, huge arable land, rivers, lakes and water reservoirs, discussions would center on modernizing farming practices, promoting value addition, improving market access, and fostering sustainable agricultural and livestock production. Most of our people depend on cattle, sheep, goats and pigs for meat, milk, ghee, cheese, hair, honey, butter, manure, incense, animal blood, poultry products, hides and skins. In the villages, farmers use cattle bulls for carting, plowing, and hauling. Thousands of people wholly or partly make their livings from selling, milking, butchering, or transporting herds. Cattle and animal owners, thus play an important role in the economy and nutrition of our communities. With its value-chain, it is potentially a multi-trillion naira industry. Participants will therefore provide insights on modernizing this sector with a view to establishing ranches, prohibiting open oscillating and grazing that not only take toll on the livestock itself, but also have been the source of communal conflicts in the region, and facilitating for the establishment of wide range of animal feeds industries and water treatment plants to develop animal-related industrial bases. This will cover all types of animal – cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, etc. This way, beyond creating wealth through animal husbandry and its value chain, we would also be halting the perennial conflicts between farmers and herders, thus entrenching peaceful coexistence amongst our people.

3. Harnessing Technology for Innovation and Development:

This sub-theme highlights the transformative power of technology in enhancing productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness across various sectors. Discussions could focus on the adoption of digital solutions, precision agriculture, agri-tech innovations, and technology transfer to drive growth and sustainability in the region.

4. Optimizing the Region’s Large Labor Force:

This sub-theme addresses the challenges and opportunities associated with the region’s significant labor force. Discussions could center on strategies to create employment opportunities, improve labor market outcomes, address skills gaps, and promote inclusive growth through workforce development initiatives.

5. Maximizing the Potential of Mineral Resources:

This sub-theme delves into the untapped potential of the region’s mineral resources and the opportunities for sustainable development in the mining sector. Discussions could focus on responsible mining practices, value addition, infrastructure development, environmental sustainability, and community engagement to unlock the economic benefits of mineral resources.

6. Addressing Poverty and Inequality:

This sub-theme will examine the root causes of poverty and inequality in Northern Nigeria and explore strategies for promoting inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. Participants will discuss the importance of targeted interventions, such as poverty alleviation programs, job creation initiatives, and social protection schemes, in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations and reducing disparities within the region.

7. Enhancing Security and Peacebuilding:

Insecurity is a major challenge facing Northern Nigeria, with implications for social cohesion, economic development and human rights. The symposium will explore strategies for enhancing security, promoting peace building and addressing the root causes of insecurity in the region. Participants will discuss the role of community-based initiatives, conflict resolution mechanisms and inclusive governance in building a more peaceful and secure future for Northern Nigeria.

8. Promoting Good Governance and Accountability:

Poor governance is a key driver of underdevelopment and social unrest in Northern Nigeria. The symposium will emphasize the importance of promoting transparency, accountability, and participatory decision-making in governance processes. Participants will explore ways to strengthen institutions, combat corruption, and empower citizens to hold their leaders accountable for their actions.

Conclusion:

By exploring these key sub-themes in a symposium setting, stakeholders can engage in meaningful discussions, share insights, and collaborate on actionable strategies to drive holistic development based on the region’s abundant human resource, agriculture, animal husbandry, technology, labor force, and mineral resources.

The symposium also offers a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and action towards building a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future for the region. By engaging with key stakeholders and proposing a compelling alternative development vision, the symposium aims to inspire positive change and catalyze efforts to address the multifaceted challenges facing Northern Nigeria. Together, we can work towards a brighter future for all residents of the region, guided by a shared commitment to progress, peace and prosperity.

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