By Juliet Oyoyo
As northern governors hold their last meeting in Kaduna, the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Meeting, Alhaji Kassim Shetima has disclosed that within the period, he served as the chairman of the forum, they were able to collectively make some modest achievements in various sectors, which are deliberately initiated and implemented for the overall growth and development of the Northern region and to some extent, Nigeria as a whole.
Shetima who made the disclosure during the last governor’s meeting highlighted some of the achievements recorded since 2015, when he assumed the Chairmanship of the Forum.
According to him “In the face of the increasing security challenges, especially emergent criminal activities such as kidnapping, cattle rustling, incessant communal clashes, inciting religious preachings and suicide bombings among others, most of which were not properly codified in the criminal justice system of Northern Nigeria, we found it judicially imperative to incorporate such criminal offences into the penal code”.
The governor revealed that, they established a committee of Attorneys-General of the 19 Northern States to critically examine the provisions of the criminal justice system vis-à-vis, the emergent criminal activities, with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of such criminal offences are brought to justice.
He said the Forum advised all State Houses of Assembly in the 19 Northern States to make amendments and modifications to the existing criminal justice system.
“Sequel to persistent reports of drug abuse especially among the youths and women in the Northern States, the Forum initiated the move to fight the menace in a holistic and all-encompassing manner, by setting up committees of relevant stakeholders in each State of the region, towards ensuring eliminating the scourge of drug abuse.
“At the National level, the Forum made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to frontally deal with the issue of drug abuse and possibly declare a state of emergency in the fight against the scourge.
“It is gratifying to note that the Federal Government has heeded our call, which culminated in the setting up of the Marwa Committee against drug abuse.” Shetima disclosed.
Shetima who extended the Forum’s appreciation to the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman, also appreciated Dr. Vincent, a professional psychiatrist for drawing the attention of the Forum to the problems associated with drug abuse and making invaluable and implementable recommendations on the way forward.
The governor said, the Forum in a bid to attain some degree of financial independence, resolved to create a joint financial institution, which could serve as a vehicle for the region’s economic recovery and overall sectoral development.”
“In pursuance of this objective, each state is to contribute N50 million monthly, for a period of six months. So far, we have N650 million out of the expected N5.7 billion”.
” I am therefore calling on states that are yet to fulfill their pledge, to do so, in order to enable us to embark on the implementation of the various programmes and projects articulated under the scheme. This include the establishment of a renewable energy plant, capable of generating 3000 – 4000MW of electricity.
“The Forum has also been able to make pragmatic initiatives towards the resuscitation of the New Nigeria Development Company in order to restore its position as the business and economic live-wire of the region. To this end, about six billion naira was approved by the Forum for the implementation of a five-year strategic development plan, which if properly executed would undoubtedly propel the region into economic prosperity.
“In addition, a new commodity marketing company was established, as a subsidiary of the NNDC, to develop and promote agricultural activities in the region. In order to further consolidate the economic base of the region, the NNDC had signed a memorandum of understanding with Savanna Petroleum Limited for the development of four oil blocks. He said.
“Additionally, the NNDC has commenced negotiations with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to venture into oil and gas exploration in the Northern region. Plans are also underway to resuscitate the Kaduna Textiles Company into full production of textile materials, which hopefully, would among other things, meet the uniform needs of our Armed Forces and other para-military agencies.
“The Forum has also been able to resolve the misunderstanding between pensioners and the management of the New Nigeria Newspapers, to the extent that the process has begun for the payment of the entitlements of pensions this is part of the Forum’s strategic plan to reinvigorate the New Nigeria Newspapers towards making it an economically viable and professionally competitive in line with international best practice.”
Shetima thanked governor El-rufai whom he said ensured that the pensioners of the company were duly paid their entitlements.
“The Forum, having realised the role of traditional rulers in the overall scheme of things, for the first time in its history, invited Chairmen of the various councils of traditional rulers in the 19 Northern States, to its meetings in order to tap their invaluable resources towards propounding solutions to the various challenges facing the Northern States and the Nation in general. Shetima revealed.