I would love to see the Northern States Governors Forum extend this ban on selling goods to the south into a major export promotion drive centred around the mass production of the following 10 items
- Leather goods
- Gum Arabic
- Shea Nuts
- Solar Power
Leon Trotsky once said: “Even in ruins there is architecture.”
Basically, what he meant was that the Phoenix always has a way of rising from the ashes to achieve greater success than hitherto existed. Just look at the economic expansion we witnessed in Japan after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nigeria is at that kind of crossroad today.
With the Fulani herdsmen saga, Nigeria has accidentally stumbled upon a way out of her economic quagmire and we should seize this chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity with both hands. Livestock alone can match the revenue we generate from crude oil and history will never forgive us if we let this opportunity slip through our fingers.
I am delighted to hear that the Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) has decided it is time to start exporting farm goods to neighbouring countries to generate export revenue. This is something that was long overdue as Nigeria realises too little revenue from regional trade.
As a first step, I want the NSGF to insist that importers in the Niger Republic, Benin Republic, etc pay for their goods in hard currency. They should not accept CFA Francs and insist that they pay in Euros using the exchange agreement they have with France
After years of dragging her feet over this crazy over-dependency on crude oil, Nigeria has suddenly realised the economic potential of animal husbandry. Over the next 10 years, I want to see this sector at least match the $50bn or so Nigeria generates from the sale of petroleum. I await details of the NSGF’s animal husbandry industrial development plan.
I want the NSGF to call a meeting this week and ringfence these 10 products listed above. They are to become the “new crude oil” raising revenue with which to run their states. I want to see the NSGF tell the federal government to go to hell with its allocation formula. Let Abuja know that Nigeria’s 19 northern states are no longer interested in federal handouts and are now dependent on what they produce to survive.
This opens up immense savings potentials for southern Nigeria too as food distributors are now free to import cheaper alternatives over the short term. Over the long term, this will inevitably lead to an expansion of domestic production.
As part of this programme,the NSGF should be desperately wooing food processors so they no longer export primary products. I want to see bottled milk, leather goods, table peanuts, thorough-bred horses, neem-based pharmaceuticals, gum arabic-based food additives, packaged cereals made from millet and sorghum similar to Corn Flakes and Weetabix, etc, all exported from northern Nigeria across the Ecowas region.
Generating power has got to be the jewel in this crown as without electricity you cannot manufacture anything. I want to see four or five massive 1,000 square kilometre solar farms across Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina and Borno states. They should generate power both for domestic use and for export.
Given that about 70% of the Niger Republic is in the Sahara Desert, I would also like to see a massive investment of Nigerian capital in the solar industry there.
For instance, what stops a consortium of businessmen from forming the Zamfara Power Generation Company which will then lease 10,000 square miles of the Sahara Desert in the Niger Republic and convert it into the world’s largest solar farm?
President Buhari’s greatest achievement in the office is probably building a warm relationship with the Niger Republic. It is time to exploit that opportunity as the country is a natural solar park. Over to you the NSGF!