By NBF News

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has said the North can only develop when leaders embark on policies that favour the masses and not a few privileged individuals.

The CBN boss noted that agriculture accounted for 42 per cent of national GDP and stated that the North would develop faster if leadership encouraged agricultural activities, since the region had much of the arable land that produced most of the agricultural products that were now neglected.

He pointed out that the level of poverty had continued to be on the rise in the country because of government's inability to invest in power and agriculture, which he noted would have aided the rapid economic transformation of Nigeria.

Lamido, who noted that the country's economic woes began during the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) era, insisted that there was the need for the country's leadership to retrace its steps by investing in the real sector, even as he called on President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo, to decide whether they wanted to continue making and implementing economic policies that would continue to benefit a few elite in the country or the ones that would benefit the generality of the Nigerian masses.

While noting that the cost of governance in Nigeria was very high, the CBN governor further advocated for radical legislations that would drastically reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria, insisting that by Nigeria's constitution, whether the president liked it or not, he must have 36 ministers, even when it was obvious that the country did not need the number to make things work in the country.

On the controversial zoning of the presidency, Lamido, who noted that as far as the CBN leadership was concerned, it must remain neutral on matters of politics, however, said free, fair and credible elections that threw up incompetent leaders, would not solve Nigeria's problem.

While delivering his paper, entitled 'Mobilising Capital for the Economic Transformation of Northern Nigeria,' he started on a lighter note thus: 'Every governor, apart from the Governor of the CBN is going round, begging to keep his job and promising to keep the promises that he did not keep in the past.'

'When we talk about economic development, we are talking about redressing conditions of objective violence that has continued to bring about this subjective violence that we have continued to witness in Jos because we created an unequal society characterised by poverty, unemployment, lack of education and hopelessness of the people that make them take up arms against their neighbours and against the society.

'So often we talk about the north. When it is time for elections, when we are sharing political appointments, we talk about the North. When it comes to the issue of what affects the northerner on the street, we do not talk about it. Take simple statistics. If oil price goes up or down, if stock market goes up or down or banks collapse, everybody knows. How many people have the statistics of the number of industries in Kaduna for example that have been shut down in the last 20 years as a result of failure of government to provide power and infrastructure? How many people have the statistics of gainfully employed human beings who were walking in those factories, who lost their jobs? And the number of wives and children they had who had to drop out of school?

'Or those not able to get medical care because of failure of government to provide power, which led to the closure of the industries and the loss of jobs. When 20 years later those children pick up arms in the name of religion or ethnicity or whatever, against society we are surprised because we do not know that those children are the products of the system that fails to cater for them.

'The problem of the North is an extreme form of the problem that faces the entire country and while we talk about the North, I think it is important to understand that a poor man in Nigeria, whether it is in the North of the Niger or the south is a victim of the same system and at the end of the day, those of us in the elite class, those of us in policy making whether you are from Kano or Kaduna or Bayelsa or Anambra, we are all together culpable and guilty and responsible for this problem.