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Northern Nigeria Has World highest illiterate -- World Bank

By Written by Emma Ujah & Luka Binniyat of Vanguard newspaper

* Poverty in the North, embarrassing – Yar'Adua
* North, by far, the poorest, says Gambari

ABUJA—The Northern Nigeria Economic and Investment Summit, kicked off in Abuja yesterday with the World Bank, saying that Northern Nigeria has the highest number of children not going to School in the world.

Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Under Secretary-General, Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations in his address lamented the poverty level of the North using grim statistics.

“On Health and Education”, he said, “the level of immunization of Children against dangerous childhood diseases, in the South-East is 44.6% immunization coverage, but the North-West has 3.7% and the North-East 3.6%.”, he said

“If you take the education of the girl-child as indicator, you see similar pattern of inequality with the South-East having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-Wes having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-South 75%, while the North-East 20% and North West 25%."

The Minister of Finance, Dr Usman Shamsudeen, while addressing the gathering of eminent Northerners at the Summit alluded the aforementioned to a recent World Bank statistics.

According to him, the level of education of a people has direct correlation with their living standards.

He then lamented that based on that correlation, Northern Nigeria was far behind all of humanity when it comes to Child Education.

His words: “About two months ago”, he said, “the Ministry of Finance organised a review session with our Development Partner like the World Bank. The World Bank representative gave a list of statistics that should shock all of us into action”, he said.

He said that "Northern Nigeria remains, and represents the only place in the world that has the highest number of Children that are not going to school. The Highest number of children that are not going to school in the world are in Northern Nigeria”, he emphasized.

He blamed the problem on lack of commitment and efforts on the part of Northern leaders. He then called on responsible, experienced and educated retired Northerners to take up political leadership of their various states, as politics has been hijacked by hoodlums who have turned it to total warfare

President Umaru Yar'Adua whose speech was read by the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Charles Ugwu, noted that there still remained a worrisome and embarrassing poverty situation in most part of Northern Nigeria.

This, the President said, is in spite of a sustained Gross Domestic Product Growth Rate of 6%; relatively stabilised Naira, controlled inflation and an enviable Foreign Reserve presently put at over $63 billion in a stable polity.

“In fact, in most of the Northern States the poverty level is very high”, Yar A'dua observed.

“In some of these States, there is equally high unemployment rate, near total collapse of infrastructure, virtual absence of new investments, while practically all the States depend essentially on revenues accruing from the Federation Account”, he said.

He then called on Northern States to take the advantage they have in Agriculture and Solid Mineral and harness them for the well being of their people.

Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Under Secretary-General, Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations in his address lamented the poverty level of the North using grim statistics.

“On Health and Education”, he said, “the level of immunization of Children against dangerous childhood diseases, in the South-East is 44.6% immunization coverage, but the North-West has 3.7% and the North-East 3.6%.”, he said

“If you take the education of the girl-child as indicator, you see similar pattern of inequality with the South-East having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-Wes having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-South 75%, while the North-East 20% and North West 25%