The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has created a joint financial institution worth N6 billion to serve as a vehicle for the region’s economic recovery and development. Out-going Chairman of the forum, Governor Kassim Shettima of Borno state revealed this on Friday in Kaduna while highlighting his achievements in the last four years. He said the initiative was part of efforts to make the region attain some degree of financial independence, saying that under the scheme, the region’s moribund textile industry and New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) would be revived. Gov. Shettima, who said all the 19 northern governors are expected to contribute to the fund which has so far realized N650 million further disclosed that each state is mandated 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 3, 000 – 4 000MW 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 livewire of the region,’’ he said.
According to him, about N6 billion 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 has 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 added. Also, the Borno state governor disclosed plans to resuscitate the Kaduna Textiles Company to full production, which he said would hopefully among other things, meet the uniform needs of the armed forces and other para-military agencies.
Shettima said the forum has also resolved the misunderstanding between pensioners and the management of the New Nigerian Newspapers and that the process had commenced for the payment of the entitlements of the pensioners.
Moreover, the forum according to him, has mapped out a strategic plan to reinvigorate the newspaper and make it economically viable and professionally competitive.
Speaking On security situation in the north, the NSGF chairman said that the forum has introduced and implemented quite a number of measures to stem the tide of security challenges in the region, adding that the forum has incorporated criminal offences into the Penal Code to address the increasing security challenges in the region, such as kidnapping, cattle rustling, incessant communal clashes, inciting religious preaching and suicide bombings among others.
He commended the federal government for the steps taken to address the state of insecurity in the north, saying: “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-strategize and come up with measures that can 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 and has set up committees of relevant stakeholders in each state of the region to eliminate the scourge of drug abuse.
Governors who attended the meeting include those of Kogi, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa Sokoto, Plateau and Kawa states.