Nigeria’s “claim to fame” in terms of large economic growth as a West African country was due in part to the resources present in the Northern region of the country even before attaining independence in the year 1960.
The agricultural sector centered in the north allowed for the exportation of crops such as groundnuts, cowpeas, tomatoes, beans, cotton, maize, pepper, etc. These crops all yielded funds for the newly formed Nigerian government post independence. Some other products included hides, skins and bones from animals, and some basic resources such as coal. Cocoa, rubber and timber from the west also played a very active role in establishing the Nigerian economy, in the beginning, but this market crashed in large part because of lack of proper management.
The opportunity of deriving treasure from these commodities are still possible, but Nigeria does not focus enough on them because of the oil that every region in the country felt was falling like cake from the heavens or manna as its popularly referred to.
To worsen the situation, the deadly Islāmic group known as Boko Haram destroyed many of the farms of people who cultivated to feed themselves and Nigerian citizens. Many that were sent away from the Northern region by the terrorists were forced into another life as refugees or internally displaced people.
The usefulness and possibilities of increasing economic growth by returning to a focus on northern agricultural production is what many, specifically northern elders, would like to return to. A letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on April 16, 2016 and presented by NEF Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Suleiman, states that the 2016 budget does not favor economic growth for the area.
According to the NEF, the infrastructural schemes and renovations favor the south more than north. They also said 75 percent of job initiatives as contained in the job creation platform of the budget only enhances the economy of Southern Nigeria.
The group now calls on President Buhari to consider the abandoned agricultural sector and make it a budget priority for the next three years, so that there will be equal distribution of democracy in Nigeria.
However, most Nigerians frowned on these statements on social media sites, accusing northern governments of being slothful. Some pointed out that the region neglected agriculture which would have balanced Nigeria’s economy, and then hopped on the lion’s share of income generated through crude oil in the Southern region.
The deceased General Sani Abacha, born in Kano, allegedly left a long money trail that many claim would be enough to construct the needed agricultural infrastructures for the north; such as storage units, irrigation and crop processing facilities.
President Buhari, born in Daura, Katsina State has not yet responded to the NEF’s formal letter. As the head of state born in the north he is expected to.