El-Rufai said during the Northern Youth Summit organized by Northern
Hibiscus Initiative in Kaduna, that the region has made Nigeria a
country of nations.
“Looking at the statistics, Nigeria appears to be a middle income
country, but if we segregate those statistics across states and zones,
you will see that in terms human development indicators, Nigeria consist
of two countries; there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy
Northern Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern
“The theme of this summit, ‘Awakening the Arewa Spirit’ is very timely.
When we talk about awakening the spirit, it means the spirit is either
sleeping or dead.
“We have to speak the truth to ourselves and ask why is it that,
northern Nigeria has development indicators similar to Afghanistan, a
country still at war.
“Nigeria has the largest number of poor people in the world, most of
them in northern Nigeria.
“Nigeria also has the largest number of out of school children,
virtually all of them in Northern Nigeria.
”Northern Nigeria has become the center of drug abuse, gender violence,
banditry, kidnapping and terrorism.
“We have also been associated with high divorce rate and breakdown of
“These are the challenges that confront us. This is the naked truth that
we have to tell ourselves.
“We must therefore as leaders at all levels have conversation about the
way forward for our part of the country.
“Because increasingly, as many of you must have seen on social media, we
are being considered as the parasite of the federal economy, even
though, that is not entirely true.
“This is because Northern Nigeria still feeds the nation. The richest
business man in Nigeria is still Aliko Dangote not someone from Southern
Nigeria, thank God for that.”
He however noted that in spite of the negative statistics, northerners
are generally considered to be more honest and less corrupt than other
“That is something we should be proud of.
“In addition, our demographic superiority gives us a very powerful tool
to negotiate in politics and that is something we should be proud of and
we should preserve. So, we have every reason to unite and not be
“So, we still have a lot to be proud of. We should be proud of our
culture and tradition, as well as unity.
“You hardly can find someone from Northern Nigeria convicted of 419 or
being a Yahoo boy. That is something we should be proud of.”
El-Rufa’i said youth account for 80 per cent of the northern population
as such the future of the region lies in their hands, “not in the hands
of Dinosaurs like me.”
According to him, people of his age ought not to be in leadership if the
youth will unite to assume their rightful place.
“In my view, we are here to prepare the next generation of leaders. That
is why the agenda for this summit is very important.
“So, you should take the panel discussions very seriously and come up
with very clear and implementable decisions that you will circulate to
all of us elected to lead in Northern Nigeria.”
He said that the outcome of the summit should be forwarded to the
Chairman of Northern States Governors Forum.
“We have to do something about the situation of Northern Nigeria and we
must do so as a group of 19 Governors, not individual state Governors.
“I am however persuaded that, this gathering and its panel discussions
will find solutions to the problems.” the governor said.
El-Rufa’i appealed to the organizers to make it an annual event,
assuring that the Kaduna State Government will be happy to partly