Members of the Northern Women and Youths Leadership Foundation on Sunday in Abuja called on Kogi’s Gov. Yahaya Bello to intervene in the many challenges confronting Nigeria’s north.
They made the call when they visited the governor at the Kogi Government Lodge in the federal capital.
The women said the governor’s intervention was necessary so that other parts of the north would prosper as Kogi did under his watch.
Hajiya Aisha Ismail, former minister of women affairs and youth development, and leader of the delegation, said insurgency and banditry had robbed the north of its economical potentialities.
Ismail noted that insecurity in the region had thrown many children out of school, just as farmers could no longer go to farms, and the livelihood of many others affected.
She explained that contrary to the thoughts of many in the south, the north was rich, blessed with arable land, human resources, and once fed the West-African sub-region, including Nigeria.
“The north is in war but the nation is calling it insurgency, banditry; but we are in war.
“This is a region that was feeding West Africa, apart from Nigeria, I know of that, but now we cannot farm anymore.
“The most devastating thing is that our children cannot go to school anymore.
“If this continues, give us 20 years, we will be in no place at all, simply because we have not brought up people to take over from us.
“Moreover, our economy has been so devastated that it is threatened.
“We are rich; we are not a poor region; we supported before, we are supporting now and we will continue to support Nigeria and West Africa.
“We realise that without us solving our problems, nobody will solve them for us and that is why we formed this association – Northern Women and Youths Leadership Foundation.
“It is an NGO to partner with all agencies so that we can intervene in crisis as they come,’’ she said.
Ismail added that as a group of former political and government office holders, the solution to the challenges in the north and Nigeria can only be tackled with a young and intelligent president.
She said that the group came to meet with Bello after seeing how he had effectively handled Kogi and confronted the challenges it was once plagued with.
“We want the young brains to take the leadership of this country because no matter how much you think, only the generation of a time fits that time.
“The generation of sixties and seventies cannot deal with the realities of today; it doesn’t work.
“That is why I say if you take a journey for 50 years and you have not arrived at your destination, you must change direction.
“We appreciate all you have done in terms of security in Kogi. Kogi was insecure, but we watched the model you took to make sure you secured your state.
“We feel that most northern state governors should take that model, adopt it and we can solve this problem.
“We know that if we make you president of Nigeria, you can secure Nigeria,’’ Ismail said.
Responding, Gov. Bello thanked the group for the accolades, and said that the solution to the problems of the northern part of the country and that of Nigeria was in good leadership.
Bello said that he would continue to do all in his power to push for not just a safe, secure and prosperous north but for Nigeria as a whole.
“The topic of your discussion quickly struck the sensitive part of me because it has to do with the future of the north and indeed, the future of Nigeria.
“Talking of education, security and the economy, when you take care of all these, there is nothing more; everything flows.
“I inherited all these problems in Kogi; insecurity, division, decay in infrastructure, and five years down the line, everything has become a thing of the past, simply because I said no to all the nonsense.
“The problem is in leadership at all levels.
“The earlier we call our leaders to order, the better, and until the north is secured, until the north is prosperous, until the north develops, Nigeria will not be in peace.
“As our mothers, I encourage you to use every opportunity you have to speak out; to advocate; let the most powerful and the weak ones get the message.
“I have seen this group as a sincere group. The support we will give to you is not because of the presidency of Yahaya Bello, but for all hands to be on deck.
“I will encourage some of my colleagues and all other kind-spirited Nigerians to advance your cause because I know that there are many southerners who want the north to be stable,’’ Bello said.