African richest and Chairman of Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has said Northern Nigeria will continue to remain poor except states governments move to close the development gap between the north and the south.
Dangote, who spoke at the 4th edition of the Kaduna Investment Summit (KadInvest 4.0) in Kaduna on Wednesday, berated Northern governors for doing little to end poverty in the region.
According to him: “Nigeria is ranked at 157th out of 189 countries on the human development index. While the overall socio-economic condition in the country is a cause for concern, the regional disparities are in fact very alarming.
“In the North Western and North Eastern parts of Nigeria, more than 60 per cent of the population lives in extreme poverty.
“It is instructive to know that the 19 Northern states which accounts for over 54 per cent of Nigeria’s population and 70 per cent of its landmass, collectively generate, only 21 per cent of the total subnational IGR in the year 2017.
“Northern Nigeria will continue to fall behind if the respective states governments do not move to close the development gap.
“And that is why we are always saying the biggest challenge that we have and what we have been praying for is to have 10 governors like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to move the northern Nigeria forward.
“Closing the gap requires multi years investment and government will not be able to raise the require capital funding, only the private sector can raise the capital to fund the level of investment that this country needs.”
He went on: “Therefore, government must create the conducive environment that will trigger a huge inflow of private capital into attractive sectors of the economy.
“Private investment will create jobs and will ameliorate the twin problem of poverty and unemployment.
“As more people are gainfully employed, you will witness a very sharp decline in some of the disturbing social vices prevalent in our society, especially among the youths.”
While urging other northern states to emulate Kaduna State Government in the investment drive, Dangote said aside the over $500 million investment El-Rufai’s government has attracted, Dangote Group is partnering Peugeot of France and Kaduna State government to establish multi-billion naira automobile assembly in Kaduna State.
He also disclosed Dangote Group will be considering investing in dairy production in Kaduna state, saying the trend of importing 98 per cent of milk consumed in Nigeria at the rate of $1.3 billion is unhealthy coupled with the fact that the imported milk is unhealthy.