At the attainment of independence on 1st October 1960, this country was following the parliamentary system of government akin to the just departed colonial power, the Great Britain. The country was divided into regions viz, Western, Eastern, Northern and later Mid-West, excised from the Western and Eastern regions.
The regions were independent of each other complete with a Premier and a regional Governor, while the Prime Minister was at the centre in Lagos. Each region was going according to its own pace of development, but with competition to excel. Thus, the Northern region, under the Premier Sardauna of Sokoto, in spite of the dearth of educated indigenes at that time managed to pursue an economic an economic program that brought about instant wealth and rejuvenated age-old businesses like Agro-industrial enterprises. The Sardauna established the Northern Region Marketing Board to help farmers sell their agricultural produce at good prices and at the same time export some overseas for revenue to the region. The Northern Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) equally set up, became the launch-pad for industrial revolution in the North. Hundreds of business men and women begin to set-up industries in Kano, Kaduna, Gusau, Ilorin and other Northern provinces to kick-start a challenge for self-sufficiency. The leader was leading well and the Ministers and supporting staff work selflessly and it became a success story.
Unfortunately, a one-sided Military putsch terminated the lives of Sardauna and other notable northerners in politics and the military including Yoruba’s from the western region. The envy and hatred of the Igbo coup leaders put a seal to the Northern region pace of economic development. The Northern Marketing Board, an employer of labour and saviour to agro-business enterprises was dissolved with military fiat. This was the beginning of the poverty in the north. Everybody was left to himself and God for us all, as the Military headed by the northerners intended to be nationalistic in office.
Everything became centred in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun or Portharcourt. Even the oldest airport in the land, Mal. Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) was brought to stupor by neglect and clear sabotage from above. An attempt to establish a branch of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Kano in 1989 proved effortless as the same southerners came to Kano to benefit from the services as our people don’t know that kind of business. Another trial for a Commodity Exchange situated at Kano Co-operatives Federation (Kano Co-ops) to resuscitate agro-business was still-born. I witnessed this as a Director in the Kano State Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Cooperatives and Tourism. The end result was that industrialisation in Kano become comatose as the promoters lack assistance from the southern owned banks and poor electricity supply. Out of over two thousand industries spread in the three industrial areas of Kano ( Bompai, Sharada 1&2 and Challawa ) less than 200 are functioning and even so at low capacity. Hence, businessmen/women turn to petroleum dealers’ et al. The poverty in North is now nascent.
Suddenly, there is a pinch of fresh air from strange quarters. A technocrat working with the Federal Government of Nigeria as Accountant-General of Nigeria, named Ahmed Idris, had the singular, boat rare opportunity, to turn the dangerous and uncontrolled tide of misfortunes of Kano (or the North) into a success story. This yet-to-be sixty years old gentleman went to Gezawa, his mother’s community, to set-up a Commodity Market and Exchange conglomerate that may open up doors of opportunity and abundant wealth for his people.
I and other dignitaries from Kano Concerned Citizens Initiative led by Alhaji Bashir Tofa had an opportunity to visit the facility and learn, first-hand, the vision behind the enterprise. Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited is a 250hectres business hub for farmers, Commodity traders, Manufacturers and Commodity Exchange. It will also accommodate haulage service providers and all stakeholders in Agro and Export value chain. It is a Nigerian registered company operating from Gezawa, a suburb of Kano (only 24 kilometres from Kano city), hoping to actualize the National goal of self-reliance, diversification and economic development in both short and long term, in tandem with the Buhari administration’s policy of promoting agriculture and its value chains. Already the Federal Government has resuscitated the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) for agricultural revolution in the country. According to Idris, GCMX has no identical twin in any part of the world. As it is easily accessible on Google and one has the chance to learn everything about the commodity exchange and its environs on the application. The company was conceived and prepared to provide a global market platform where maximum efficiencies provide answers to modern day business in our local agricultural commodities and value chains, according to the promoters. It was envisaged that the project would give employment to more than 2,800 people and another 3,000 indirect ones as a multiplier effects with full commencement of phase I of the exchange. About a hundred businesses abound in the exchange with the capacity for 500 trailers and 1000 car parking facilities, warehousing, luxury shops/offices, trading floor, fire and fuel stations and an independent water sources were all in place. In fact it deserves its name as the largest commercial one-stop hub. One needs to have an on-the-spot inspection to fully appreciate this country- in-a-country facility. The facility was well paved with hard concrete lanes and carriers; one can easily forget his immediate environment once inside.
It is now left for the North to grab this opportunity with both hands and create wealth by providing job opportunities to the teeming unemployed youth and save the nation from the likes of ugly #Endsars now protests. Already, an investor from Lagos state has indicated interest to erect an 80-bed five star hotel, while another from Imo state will jointly provide another service within the facility. The Dangote’s , Bua’s and other Northern tycoons should shed the tag of nonchalant attitude to the North and join the pace-setter, Idris for the development and progress of this part of the country. This if done, will go a long way in changing the poor socio-economic nature of our people and drop the ugly tag of the poverty region of the country.
Musa a retired Permanent Secretary wrote in from Kano