A recent statement by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that the North has the numerical advantage to decide who rules Nigeria, and that nothing would happen if a northerner succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, has continued to generate mixed reactions.
Northern Elders Forum. Credit: Premium Times.
The spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed made the above statement during a public event on Monday. The statement was in reaction to the call by the Southern Governors Forum that the next presidency should be zoned to the southern region because the present president hails from the North.
Indeed, the NEF spokesperson is right when he said the North has the numbers to decide the next president. In fact, recent elections in the country prove that the North would have to support anybody in the country that eventually emerges as president.
Hakeem Bala Ahmed. Credit: The Nigeria Lawyer.
However, the writer opines that instead of the North to keep boasting about the obvious numerical advantage that they possess, they should channel their energy into using that advantage to increase the revenue they get from Value Added Tax (VAT).
Recall that after Governors Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Rivers and Lagos States, respectively, decided to take the bull by the horn and take charge of the collection of VAT in their states instead of the Federal Government, many northern governors and political elites kicked against the move. They called on Wike and Sanwo-Olu to be their brother's keeper, as most Northern states would not be able to survive on their revenue.
Governors Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Credit: PUNCH.
Now, why then should the North depend on some southern states for revenue, when they have the obvious population advantage, as stated by the Northern Elders?
One of the reasons why Lagos remains the commercial hub of the country is due to its high population density. Though one of the smallest states in the country, Lagos remains the most populated. This nature of Lagos makes it a natural site for industries, as investors are more attracted to a region where they can easily source labour. It is this attribute that makes Lagos the highest contributor of revenue to the Federal Government.
The high population of Lagos makes it generate significantly high revenue. Photos: Pinterest, Labels and Labeling.
Another example of a country that utilizes its high population density is China. Being the most populated country in the world, one would have expected China to be poor. However, the country skilfully deviated a means to use her high population as an advantage. Today, China remains the economic hub of the world, as many industries and manufacturing countries are sited there. This makes China very rich, rich enough to even borrow Nigeria.
Since it has been established that population is a huge advantage when it comes to revenue, why then do the North only brag about it when it comes to elections? Why can't they use their population to increase their revenue and create wealth?
Photo Credit: The Guardian.
Northern Leaders should consider making the North more attractive for investors, as they already have the labour force to dominate the manufacturing industry in the country. The region remains a potential gold mine that has not yet been properly harnessed, and until Northern Leaders realize the potential that the North has to generate revenue, that gold mine might remain untapped for a long time.
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