Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State on Tuesday said that the discovery of oil in the country has done more damage than good to the North, asking northerners to stop depending on oil revenues and instead turn to agriculture, which was the main stay of the region’s economy before the advent of black gold.
Delivering a public lecture entitled: “Northern Nigeria Economy Free of Oil Revenue”, at the Annual General Assembly of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Gov. Ahmed said the discovering of “crude oil caused severe dislocation in the region’s socio-economic and political ecosystem”.
He noted that it was high time the North returned to the pre-oil era of agriculture as farming has the potential to restore the past glory and development of the region.
The North, particularly Kano State, prior to the discovery of oil, was famous for its groundnut pyramids and was a major earner of foreign exchange for the country. However, over the years, the region, which was considered to have great potential, has continued to lag behind as the twin evils of poverty and illiteracy has continued to bedevil it.
Accordingly, Ahmed warned that the region would not be able to achieve functional agricultural base as long as its people live below western education and poverty level.
He said: “while I acknowledge that much of our infrastructural development is attributable to oil revenues, the fact that the discovery of crude oil has caused severe dislocations in our socio-economic and political ecosystem is beyond reproach.
“The exploration of oil triggered significant policy shifts, especially an ill-advised focus on the export of primary petro carbon by products at the expense of agriculture from which we are yet to recover.
“Furthermore, ongoing agitation for resource control and allocation and the consequent clamour for fiscal federalism demonstrate the need to free our region’s economy from oil revenue. Additionally, northern Nigeria’s immense agricultural resources strongly recommend a revival of the agro-based wealth that the region once enjoyed”.
The governor expressed optimism that the North will survive without oil revenue saying, “If Federal allocations were to cease today, for example, I am confident that the 19 states of Northern Nigeria will overcome the initial hiccups to build strong agro-based economies”.