Outspoken northern politician and former Presidential Campaign Council director for the Civil Society Organisation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Naja’atu Bala Muhammad, has said the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, does not have a blueprint for the North’s development.
Political pundits are of the view that no serious presidential candidate, whose candidature was largely made possible by the Northern APC Governors Forum, will carelessly open his mouth and say he doesn’t have a blueprint for a particular region, especially the North with its massive attractive votes.
Naja’atu Mohammed was just playing politics. Nevertheless. Let’s ‘keep’ Naja’atu aside, the big questions are: does Tinubu have any blueprint for the North? If yes, is it what the North needs after eight years of being in power at the centre?
The basic issue facing the North is insecurity—banditry, farmer-herder conflicts and poverty. To be fair to President Buhari and the APC, they did some well-done jobs in the agricultural sector, restoration of security in communities in the North East, provision of new infrastructure and the rehabilitation of the old ones, including the successes in the social intervention programmes; especially petty cash distribution to the masses.
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On October 17, 2022, Tinubu, at Arewa House, told the North, his blueprint for the region. He said he will fight bandits and terrorists with technology which Buhari just started in 2022. Tinubu said, he will turn the North’s fertile land into grain fields – the North will become the hub of agriculture. The dairy economy and agro-allied industries will be promoted.
He said he will accelerate the Mambilla Project and rejuvenate the existing power stations. He assured on exploiting the gold in Zamfara and iron ore in Kogi State.
Tinubu also promised to bring back to school the millions of North’s out-of-school children through incentives. He further promised to create a special commission for Almajiri education, including employing Almajiri’s teachers.
Are Tinubu’s promises to the North enough and in line with the region’s needs and wants? Some political pundits believe that the promises are good, but development experts say the North needs more and a new approach.
Apart from these promises, the north extremely needs some strong-willed approaches to the current monster of banditry in the North West. A deployment of massive force and technology against the bandits in the villages where they operate is compulsory.
The North also needs a special economic recovery programme in the areas of youth empowerment, poverty reduction, and the upliftment of business people.
President Buhari, in his own intuition, tried to tackle these issues by appointing many seasoned northerners into various positions of authority. But this has not worked. In fact, this political patronage strategy has failed.
Most of the president’s appointees from the North have not served as a link between the president and his support base nor effectively reached the poor, who formed Buhari’s 12 million supporters, which APC is still banking on.
As part of the agenda for the North, Tinubu in his campaign promises for the region should also promise the North that he will identify 50-100 business people and business enthusiasts in the North and assist them directly in their area of competence or choice. Imagine the impact new billionaires would have in the business sector, like new industries in the manufacturing and agricultural value chains, ICT, media, trading, etc.
Tinubu’s promise to North’s youth is still hazy. Since the North’s young people have lost in their quest to clinch the APC vice presidential candidate ticket, though, few young people have benefited from the APC Youth Wing appointments, but most of the positions were not influential and direct, like the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as EFCC Chairman, which got massive commendation throughout the country, with young northerners feeling well-recognised. Tinubu should directly ‘talk’ to the North’s youth via important and strategic appointments in his campaign council; bringing on more youngsters from the North would be a joker.
Most people support Tinubu in the North on the belief that he is a ‘builder’ of people. So the North expects from Tinubu three more things on his blueprint – a promise to ‘build’ some people who can as well build thousands of others and new businesses; to have direct contact with the youth – meaning using his today for their tomorrow; and lastly, to confront head-on the senseless insecurity in the North West, which is not just mere banditry.
Zayyad I. Muhammad resides in Abuja, email@example.com