Tuesday, May 31,
How to tackle poverty in North - Dr. Muktar
Dr. Mustapha Muktar is a development economist w ith t he Department of Econom ics, Bayero University Kano. In this interview, he says t he way out for t he poverty in t he North is t o invest in massive ski lls acqu isition for its teeming population and adoption of glorified or unbalanced econonllc development
From Abdullahi Yahaya Bello. Ka no WHAT is your take on poverty in the North? T he issue of pove rty can be looked at from various an gles. But to be candid the level qf poverty in Northern Nige ria is very high. In fact the former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo said that poverty should be declared an emergency in the North. Ifyo u look at states liIce Sakata in North West and down to Adamawa in the North East, the incidence of poverty is as high as 50-65 percent in states lilee Jigawa and Yobe. There is the need to alleviate p ove rty to the barest minimum so that growth can be achieved. BaSically, th e factors that are responsible for poverty are the high rate o f unemployment because the level ofincome of the population that are unemployed will be low. If the level of income is low, then th~ level of poverty will go up. A rider to this is the high rate of illiteracy of the people which
makes them unsuitable for formal employment. Lack of basic skills too renders most of the pe<ipl~ in the North unemployable in the skills m:lfket and productive activities. Other factors include the inability to access the financial system in the formal sector. Most of the business activities taking place in the North are outside the formal sector. That is why som etimes if. you look at the share holding capacity and our activities in the fillancial system you are bound to rate poverty"in the North high. If you look at the natural resources' availability such as rainfall and other things, the level of rainfall is acute, couple w ith the problem of desertification which all contribute to the high incidence of poverty. Then there is the issue of coUapsed factories in the North espeCially in Kano that is the heart of commerce and this further pushes the workers that>"' lost their jobs into poverty. Ordinarily, population is supposed to be an advantage like in China. How can the po pulation in the North be harnessed
into economic prosperity? NormaUy, population is supposed to be a contributing factor to development. If you look at the industrial revolution the main factor that kicle started it is increase in the population. Unfortunately, here in the North it turned out to be a disadvantage because it is not put into proper use. The best way we can turn our population into advantage is for the various governments to embark on massive skills acquisition training for the population. If there is skills acquisition and massive investment in infrastructure, a lot of people will be gainfully employed and this will reduce poverty and the rate of dependence will be minimized. How do we revive the collapse industries? The way forward is one or two. First, there has to be adequate and sustainable supply of power. Secondly, government should use its fiscal measures to try to reduce cost of input It should create enabling environment like tax holidays for the investors and any other incentives that can be provided b),government so that the industries can come back to their normal production level. If they are able to produce at that
level, they will be able to absorb the redundant labour and the multiplier effect will boost the economy. If you are asked to advice Kwankwaso, which area do you think should be his priority in terms of reviving the economyofKano? He should give priority to the improvement, generation and distribution ofpower so that small scale industries which form the bulk of the industries in Kano can piele up because over 60 percent o f the industries in kano are small scale. He should provide employment to the teeming youth. There is also the need for towo planning and environmental sanitation. What is the level of the presence of the North in the stoele market? T he level of participation of the North in the stock exchange is very poor. Our tendencies to participate in trading activities is mostly buying and selling where you get your profit now and then and that does not help matters. We don't invest in long term investmen ts that are productive. Some of the factors that prevent us from participating are sometimes cultural and religious. How do you think the CBN cashless policy will affect the North? I think the policy will affect the No rth negatively because we don't patronize the banks. It will also have effect on the value and efficiency on the volume of transaction we undertake. Unless we begin to move towards using th e fac ilities aimed at moving toward a cashless society we will have problem. Which economic development model will suit the. development of the North? The model we need to adopt is a kind of glorified or modified unbalanced model; unbalanced m eans a situation that you cannot start tackling all the sectors at a time because of inadequacy of resources and informality of operations but rather you start from a particular sector and this sector w ill have multiplier effect on others. For example, we can start fro m the industrial sector through creating ena bling environment by government. If the industrial sector is rightly transformed it will have impact on the agrie sector and the agrie sector will guarantee food securi ty and the multiplier effect is that the econ omy will be balanced in few years to come. We can not start wi th the sophisticated model of growth that the Asian Tigers started with. But most people will say tl,e starting point is agriculture. You cannot start with agricul~Jre because you don't have th e industrial capacity to sustain and supporrthe agriculru,re.
, . -"' . rfyolffuokattheingustrialrevolution, the ' . . mam:factotthai: kick started it is increase in the populatiOn. Upfoitunately, here in the North it tuined out to be a disadvantage becauSe it is not pu~into proper use. The best wayw~ cad tUm ourpopulatiqn '. into aewantage is fo~ th~ Various governments to embark o~ massiAre skillsacqtrlsition ~g the population.
Farmers in Kano pray against flooding WORRIED by a National Emergency Management Agenc:y (NEMA) forecast tlJat this year's rainfall may cause flooding, farmers in Kano have commenced special prayers to forestall what they see as an impending catastrophe. Malam Musa Ado, a farmer at Kumbotso area of the state told journalists on Saturday that he would take the forecast seriously. He recalled that when NEMA predicted there would be heavy rainfall in 2010. he h ad doubted it, only for the agency to be proved right. Musa said that on hearing NEMAS prediction for this year's
rainfall in the media, he had called other farmers in the area to a meeting and advised them on the need to pray over the agency's forecast "The agency armounced tI,at the rains could be very heavy this year and that it could cause flooding. "We have organised special prayers so that God ,ViU ward off whatever misfortune is lurking~ he stated. Malam Halliru Saidu, also a farmer in Kumbotso area, said that the rain as predicted by NEMA was not going to affect only the farmers, but the whole country's economy. "So itiSa cause for concern worth praying over;' he added.
A female farmer, Uwani Muhammad, also said although she did not hear the artnouncement when it was made in tile media, sh e had called for special prayers when she was told by her colleagues. She called on relevant agencies and stakeholders to enlighten more farmers about the situation to enable them to take preemptive measures. NAN recalls that Alhaji Muhammad Sani"-Sidi, the Director General ofNEMA, had said at a gathering in Abuja that this year's rain would cause flooding and that it would affect the country sOcio-economically. (NAN).