Why North is in economic crisis, by Audu Ogbeh
Says Nigeria is ethno-religious in nature
Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Chief Audu Ogbeh, has traced the economic problem of the North to the embrace of politics, arms forces and civil service as their only industries since the 70s.
Reacting to the formation of North Central Peoples Forum (NCPF), perceived as a breakaway of the North Central from the ACF, Ogbeh said there were fundamental issues ACF had been unable to tackle as they were not it’s making.
He said: “The most tragic thing that happened to the North, which nobody mentions when they complain about marginalisation, is that under (the government of Olusegun) Obasanjo, the so-called banking reform took away every bank in the North.
“Bank of the North, Lion Bank, Inland Bank, and Habib Bank were all sold. How do you want to develop a region when there are no banks there?”
According to him, there is no need to pretend that Nigeria is heavily ethnic and regional in nature.
His words: “Many of these other banks are not willing to finance anything around here, no matter how hard you try. As of today, there is no Northern Bank.
“Even when (President Umaru) Yar’Adua launched the N200 billion commercial agriculture credit programme and put the money in two big banks, every one of us from the North who applied were denied.
“The argument was that we were politically exposed, but I know friends of mine, active politicians, who got the loans in other parts.”
Welcoming the formation of NCPF, the former Minister of Agriculture said being ACF chairman was not something he bargained for.
“When I was made chairman, I wasn’t even there. They met in Kaduna and decided it. I didn’t even know.
“On the other hand, there were people within ACF who wanted to be chairman but were not picked. It took me about one month to accept.”