Hajiya Aisha Falke, founder of Northern Hibiscus Initiative has explained that northern Nigeria may not quit its state of abject poverty and underdevelopment unless leaders in the region initiate reforms to create wealth, empower and educate the poor.
Mrs Falke, who spoke during the Northern Youth Summit organized by her group in Kaduna, said the event was conceived to tackle the myriads of challenges besetting the Northern region.
Speaking under theme ‘Awakening the Arewa Spirit’ Aisha said the Northern Hibiscus had taken the bull by the horn with a 16-year action plan to empower the youths with useful skills, especially those who are not privileged to have formal education.
“We cannot just sit down and say our government will do this or our government will give us jobs.
“People are graduating but no jobs, we have to do skill acquisition. We have to use our hands to make money,’’ she stressed.
According to her, “in northern Nigeria, we do not have first generation millionaires and billionaires, we have second and third, meaning your fathers and grandfathers are the wealthy.”
“Meanwhile, people who are actually not opportune to be from rich families are still left in the bottom, which actually is not what we want.
“That is why we are standing and ready to change the status quo,’’ she said.
Similarly in her remarks, Aisha El-rufai, wife of Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai expressed concern over growing incidence of gender-based and domestic violence in the North.
“l am indeed delighted to be associated with such a laudable initiative which could not have come at a better time than this.
“Especially this period that our beloved country is grappling with the problems of kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry, cultism, terrorism and drug abuse.
“In addition, the increasing rate of gender based violence particularly in Northern Nigeria gives me great cause for anxiety.
“The root cause of most of these could be traced to high level of poverty, low literacy, lack of awareness and an unprecedented high rate of youth unemployment in the region.
“The Northern youth summit therefore provides a golden opportunity to make a difference by creating awareness on these issues and ways of addressing them,” the governor’s wife said.
As part of the solutions, Mrs El-Rufai said there should be “innovative approaches such as promoting entrepreneurship and skills development in diverse fields of endeavor among the teeming youths population.
“I understand that the summit will, among other things, include interactive panel discussions on topical issues, ranging from how to set up successful business enterprises, skills acquisition, mentorship and relationship management.
“It is my utmost belief that the outcome emerging from this roundtable discussion would be beneficial to all in attendance.”
She added that it was imperative to ensure that adequate sustainability plan to keep the momentum of the summit, be developed as a key output from the event.
Mrs El-Rufai also hoped that the outcome of the summit would eventually lead to the establishment of skills acquisition centres, relationship counseling platforms, appropriate collaboration and partnerships with both the public and private sectors.
“As you proceed with the various activities of the summit, do keep in mind that the future of this country is in your hands.
“You should therefore make the best out of this rare opportunity including take-way useful lessons learnt that would be beneficial to you and the larger youth society in the North and Nigeria as a whole,” she stressed.
The governor’s wife called on youths to imbibe the culture of cooperation and collaboration as they embark on the journey of self development and self actualisation.