AMID numerous socio-economic challenges in Nigeria and rising state of insecurity, key socio-cultural groups will be meeting to discuss specific issues of national concern, with a view to finding solutions on myriads of problems bedevilling the country, former Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum Audu Ogbeh has revealed.
Although no select date was given for the event, Ogbeh said the various groups had been in talks with a view to convoking the meeting for the well being of the country.
Ogbeh, who spoke as a panellist at The ICIR Conversation Series on Wednesday with the theme, ‘Solving Nigeria’s Security Conundrum: A Pan-African Approach’ stressed the need for proper diagnosis of national problems in order to find lasting solutions to them.
“Various socio-cultural groups such as Pandev, Ohaneze, and Arewa Consultative Forum and other socio-cultural groups have been in talks to meet and the meeting comes up very soon,” Ogbeh said.
“We, as Africans, always have the weakness of analysing our problems concretely. We have started talking about the constitution and restructuring, neglecting even the state of the economy which has made young people employ all kinds of undefined routes to survive.
”We intend to make the submission of every resolution that we come up with to the president for possible actions. Recall, during his recent media chats, he encouraged the various governors from each state and local government to seek solutions to problems bedevilling their respective communities.”
Ogbeh, who voiced out his concerns on the state of the national economy, said Nigeria’s rising population had to be furnished with proper planning of the future.
“By 2050, we would be about 450 million people. How do we plan for this with the way we’re going? What is the current state of the economy, and why is life still difficult and industries are collapsing across the country, worsening the state of the economy?”
He stressed that no nation would survive by importing virtually everything, expressing deeper concern on the constant devaluation of Nigeria’s naira for more than 30 years. He noted that it was not healthy for the economy.
“Today we are stuck and our industries are dead and we have become a nation of imports. On the back of a difficult economy, what do we do? Do we run to the Atlantic Ocean or where with our size?” Ogbeh asked.
The Arewa leader also called out municipal authorities and local government councils, whom he said had got less criticism, despite performing below average.
“Within our communities, we must ask ourselves, is governance really working? Does anyone go home and say he sees development in his locality?The county is sick actually very sick.”
He also cautioned against open grazing, insisting that Nigeria was not harvesting maximum benefits from cattle rearing business on the back of outdated open grazing of cattle.
“We spend about $1.6 billion on milk importation because we don’t know how to manage our cows to deliver to us. ECOWAS trans-humans movement of 1998 has been a major concern which had had foreign cows as far as Mauritania come in here and their herders posing threat to security,” he explained.
“Every country in West Africa has to take care of its cattle at this point,” Ogbeh further said.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.