BY MOHAMMED BASHIR AHMED
According to the latest population projections by the UNDP, Nigeria will by 2050 be the world’s third most populous nation after India and China with a projected population of over 400 million. By extension, the north being the region with the highest numbers of persons in a family unit will contribute maybe at least 60% of this number. This development will put a lot of stress on food, water, land, infrastructure, social amenities – including healthcare and education.
The big question is how prepared are authorities in the region for this population explosion and its attendant consequences on socio-economic,cultural and religious dynamics that will play out. Obviously,one is not oblivious of other factors that will be affected by a large population including security and the scramble for available resources and its attendant tensions as is playing out in the herders/farmers clashes.
The Northern state governments and LGCs will be saddled with immense responsibilities that they don’t seem equipped for at the present time. The silver lining is in starting the conversation now and initiating strategic development plans within this election cycle that will be a big positive step in the right direction.
Considering the current challenges faced by many states in the north like the Boko Haram insurgency, farmers-herders clashes,urban and rural banditry like – kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, ritual killings, rural terrorism etc; it is imperative for Governors, Local Council Chairmen, Traditional and Religious Institutions and all other stakeholders to initiate contact and map out a plan for the region’s stabilisation and mitigation and elimination of these identified threats to our collective way of life and progress.
As of today,the level of cooperation between the states across the region in tackling the myriad of problems bedeviling them is rather inadequate. Yes,the Federal government bears the constitutional responsibility for national security and mapping out of relevant economic policies for the welfare of citizens, but we must admit that the lower tiers of government must be partners and promoters of this objective. It may be time to review current constitutional provisions that impact on security and the enhancement of the quality of life of all Nigerians. The Northern State Governors Forum must engage with the Nigerian Governors Forum to further advance critical cooperation in reviewing these constitutional provisions with the sole objective of having legislative input that will be good for Nigerians.
These observations and suggestions are limited to Northern Nigeria for now in this piece because of the seriousness of the challenges being experienced in all its three zones. The impact of the ongoing crises on our nation in terms of loss of lives, property and government finances that could be put into infrastructure spending and social services provision is huge. The overstretching of our military in curtailing the insurgency in the North East states and criminality in the the North West and North Central states coupled with the inadequate numbers of police personnel to deal with internal security issues are seemingly intractable problems that once resolved will impact positively on a more efficient distribution of resources for the development of the whole nation and its people.
The time to act is now.
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