Northerners who oppose restructuring are doing so for selfish purpose, they don’t represent larger interest of the zone, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has said. El-Rufai stated this yesterday in Abuja at the on-going 26th Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NES 26th).
He noted that there are over 100 million northerners and whatever advantages that person is getting for himself does not apply direct to the others. “We have the highest number of out-of-school children.
We have the highest poverty rate. We have the lowest JAMB cut-off rate. So, what are the advantages in the North in the current situation? “As the Governor of Kaduna State, I have had to look at these issues and try to see how I can get the people of my state up on the ladder. I think you need to differentiate the knowledge from a few and the voice of the silent majority,” he said. El-Rufai, however, regretted that certain people present restructuring in a derogatory way, in a manner that portrays all the northerners as backward people.
“The way some people present restructuring is so insulting and derogatory. We should have an honest conversation on what is working and what is not. We don’t have any advantages. If there are northern leaders today, by virtue of the fact that I am a governor, I must be there.
“So, who are these northerners against restructuring? Who are they? Who are they speaking for? So, let us have a very honest, unemotional conversation without looking down on people or insulting them or framing them,” he said. On the insecurity in the Southern Kaduna, the governor explained that the violence in Northern Kaduna is more devastating than the insecurity in Southern Kaduna.
“Though the violence in Southern Kaduna has been over-reported, the insecurity in Northern Kaduna – Birnin Gwari – is more than the ones in Southern Kaduna. But the newspapers based in Lagos and Abuja choose to focus on Southern Kaduna rather than what is really happening,” he said, adding that the crisis is over 200 years old and cannot be tackled in a minute.
He identified girl child education as potent instrument for controlling population, as, according to him, countries that controlled birth rate through legisla-tion are now reversing it. “There is a lot of debate on that because countries that have tried to curtail demographic growth like China have now reversed themselves.
Singapore even pays you to have children. The current thinking in the developing economics is that population growth is not bad if you can ensure that population growth rate is faster and the population is educated and healthy. “But, at the state level, we are all trying our best to reduce fertility level. And what is the best way? The best way is to educate girls. If you make sure that your girls are educated, you immediately reduce fertility level. The best way is to ensure that the girls get at least senior secondary school level because now they take their fate in their own hands. They start at least from the age of 18,” he said.