By Amos Tauna
Kaduna (Nigeria) – Former Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum, a northern Nigeria socio – political organization, Aliko Muhammed has said that the time has come for Nigeria and the north in particular to stop depending on oil as the mainstay of the economy.
Although Muhammed appreciated the effort of the present administration in diversifying the economy, he called on Nigerians to support the efforts to achieve the desired objectives.
He was speaking at the Arewa Youth Forum, (AYF) 2017 edition of the Annual Leadership lecture series and Honors Night in Kaduna.
Muhammed, who is also the patron of the Farmers Association of Nigeria, noted that agriculture is the sure bet towards achieving self sufficiency in the north and Nigeria as a whole.
He called on the region to take advantage of the arable agricultural land and feed itself instead of depending on oil revenue from the federal government.
His words, “What the north need to do first is for us to feed ourselves, at a point Nigeria was importing 1 billion worth of rice, now because of lack of foreign exchange we are producing some of the rice locally.
“The government is trying in the area of agriculture, it is beginning to take its rightful place, through the Anchor Borrowers Plan, billions of naira have come from the CBN to the farmers which is good.
“As the Patron, farmers association, I think the government is trying in the area of agriculture, it is left for the farmers to arrange themselves and source the money.”
He said, “As leaders of tomorrow, that they can organize an occasion like this shows all they need to do is to mobilize themselves in different sectors. They need to make sure that Nigeria is self sufficient.”
On his part, National President of AYF, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, said the theme: ‘Nigeria’s current realities: Socio-economic development and Milestones’, is part of AYF contribution to national unity and policy direction of the country.
“By so doing and through this event, the Arewa Youth Forum will recognize and encourage exemplary leaders who have promoted positive values and excelled in their various fields of endeavour.
“I am happy to inform you that recently and within the period of September 2014 to October 2015, the AYF implemented the 1st cycle of US Department of State fully funded ‘Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building Project in four-4 States of Northern Nigeria, namely Kaduna, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Taraba.
“The project was AYF noble contribution to the Federal and State Government’s efforts to help the nation in addressing and mitigating the security and peace building challenges.
“We are happy to report that the project has achieved its desired objectives because it has served as an avenue where over one thousand Youth across these four states and twelve communities were trained as Community Peace Ambassadors and Actors.
“We are glad to also mention that through this program, we were able to reconcile between fighting communities and groups, particularly in Nasarawa and Bauchi States, thereby enhancing their peaceable Co-existence with one another”, he said.