By Shuaib Sadiq
The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has created a joint financial institution worth six billion naira to serve as a vehicle for the region’s economic recovery and development.
Gov. Kassim Shettima of Borno and out-going Chairman of the forum made this known while highlighting his achievements in the last four years on Friday in Kaduna.
He said the initiative was part of the efforts to make the region attain some degree of financial independence.
He said under the scheme, the region’s moribund textile industry and New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) would be revived.
Shettima said the fund expected to be contributed by all the 19 northern governors of the region had so far realised 650 million naira.
“In pursuance of these objectives, 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 embark on the implementation of the various programmes and projects articulated under the scheme.
“These include the establishment of a renewable energy plant, capable of generating 3000 – 4000MW of electricity.
“The forum has also taken pragmatic initiatives to resuscitate the New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) to restore it to its position as the business and economic live-wire of the region,’’ he said.
According to him, about 6 billion naira was approved by the forum for the implementation of a five-year strategic development plan, which will 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.
“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.
“The NNDC has commenced negotiations with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to venture into oil and gas exploration in the Northern region,’’ Shettima said.
He also disclosed plans to resuscitate the Kaduna Textiles Company to full production of textile materials, “which hopefully, would among other things, meet the uniform needs of our Armed Forces and other para-military agencies.“
Shettima said the forum had also resolved the misunderstanding between pensioners and the management of the New Nigerian Newspapers.
He said that the process had commenced for the payment of the entitlements of the pensioners.
He said the forum had a strategic plan to reinvigorate the newspaper and make it economically viable and professionally competitive.
On security situation in the region, the NSGF chairman said “We, as a forum, has introduced and implemented quite a number of measures to stem the tide of security challenges in the region.’’
Shettima said the NSGF had incorporated criminal offences into the penal code of Northern Nigeria to address the increasing security challenges in the region.
“Especially emergent criminal activities such as kidnapping, cattle rustling, incessant communal clashes, inciting religious preaching and suicide bombings among others, most of which were not properly codified in the criminal justice system of Northern Nigeria.
“The Forum, therefore 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.
“Accordingly, the forum advised all State Houses of Assembly in the 19 Northern States to make amendments and modifications to the existing criminal justice system,’’ Shettima said.
He also commended the Federal Government for the steps taken to address the situation.
“I would like to, therefore, express our gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his quick and immediate response to the issues of insecurity in the region which of recent, seem to be deteriorating.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to re-strategise and come up with measures that could deal with the situation more permanently. “
He said the forum had also initiated the move to fight the menace of drug abuse among youths and women in the northern region in a holistic manner.
Shettima said the Forum had set 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.
“I would, at this juncture, extend the forum’s appreciation to the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hajiya Hadiza Usman.
“And 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,’’ he said.
Shettima expressed appreciation to members of the forum for what he described as “considerable support and cooperation you have been giving me in the last four years I have had the honor of being the Chairman of the Northern States’ Governors’ Forum.
“Within this period, we have been 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.“
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that governors of Kogi, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa Sokoto Plateau and Kawa States attended the meeting.