By M.A Abubakar
With deep sense of humility, I write to draw the attention of Adamawa State Government, political actors and critical stakeholders on the above subject matter. This is pertinent in view of the current economic realities.
Adamawa state was carved out of the defunct Gongola state on 27th August, 1991. It has an estimated land mass of 36, 917 km2 covering the 21 Local Government Areas with headquarter in Yola. It has about 60 ethnic groups who are predominantly Muslims and Christians, with an estimated population of 5.0 million people (projected increase from the figures of National Population Commission, NPC of 3.2 million in 2006). Adamawa is endowed with abundant human and natural resources. It has huge economic potentials with livestock, water resources, and vast arable land for agriculture with large deposits of minerals resources.
Since the inception of democracy in 1999, successive Governments came through different political platforms with different ideologies and manifestos. Due to the dynamic nature of our political atmosphere, different indices were used to rate their performance by different interest groups. Unfortunately, for over two decades of uninterrupted democratic governance, there were no commiserate impact on the overall physical infrastructure and human capital development taking into accounts the huge resources expended. Apart from corruption and poor management of resources, this failure could also be attributed to the absence of economic plans which resulted to the lack of continuity or sustenance of good policies and programs of past administrations that requires long term period of fruition beyond eight years.
Adamawa state currently has a GDP of $4.58 bn, GDP (Per Capita) of $1.417 bn and it is ranked 28th in Nigerian in terms of Human Development Index, HDI which is 0.418 (hdi.globaldatalab.org, retrieved in November, 2018). In September 2020, Statista reported that Adamawa state has a Poverty Index, PI of 74.41% and is currently occupying 32nd position, and it is also reported to have an Unemployment Rate, UR of 20.8%. On 26th July 2020, Premium Times reported 2019 Annual State Viability Index, ASVI by Economic Confidential Magazine which shows that Adamawa state has an Internally Generated Revenue, IGR of only N9.704 bn against N95.879 bn received from FAAC, this is an equivalence of 10% Viability Index. Financial Derivatives Company Ltd. (FDC) led by Bismarck Rewane as at 7th October 2020 listed Adamawa among the twelve financially miserable states. On 16th June, 2019 Premium Times also reported Adamawa among ten northern states with a total of 10.5 million out of school children as published by UNICEF. This is obviously not something to write home about.
It is no longer news that we are battling with perennial security challenges which are typical of northern Nigeria particularly our volatile north-eastern sub-region that is ravaged by the hydra-headed insurgency. We have huge infrastructural deficit with increasing wage bill (of both civil servants and political appointees) against declining oil revenue from FAAC. Without an adequate fiscal management, borrowing is inevitable before executing any capital project. However, this does not justify the rising debt profile currently amounting to over N130 bn. It only calls for concerted efforts from Government and critical stake holders to plan how to pull the state from the brink of economic bankruptcy. Hence, the need to urgently convene an economic summit with the view of addressing the problems highlighted.
This summit is timely, considering the current global economic uncertainties resulting from the devastating impact of Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, even the World Super Powers have resorted to the use of austerity measures as economic survival strategies. Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS issued an alert that Nigerian economy is on the verge of an imminent recession for the second time in 6 years. This is a serious cause for concern to all and sundry.
In view of the daunting economic challenges enumerated and the herculean task ahead, here are my humble suggestions;
(1) Organize the summit by bringing together chief executives (past and present), political actors, technocrats, top operators from public and private sectors and all critical stakeholders from academia, civil society organizations etc to discuss and fashion out modalities on how best to develop the economy of the state considering the enormity of the challenges and our local economic potentials. A well-crafted communiqué is expected to be issued at the end of the summit.
(2) Inaugurate a high-powered technical committee that will be saddled with the responsibility of collating and evaluating the inputs and recommendations of various sub-committees and ultimately come up with a comprehensive policy document in the form of Economic Blueprint. This document will have short to medium term policy direction with major priority of diversification and developing a sustainable economy driven by Agriculture, Solid Minerals and Information and Communication Technology, ICT.
(3) This policy document should articulate Adamawa economic growth and development strategies for at least a period of 20 to 25 years. It should clearly showcase a roadmap for 20 to 25 years action plan with achievable economic milestones. It may be tagged ADAMAWA VISION 2040 or 2045, (AV- 2040 or AV-45).
(4) If properly designed and conceptualized, this document will help in guiding the Government in making an informed decision in the area of reforms, fighting corruption, blocking leakages, resource management and ultimately cutting the cost of Governance in-line with global best practices.
(5) Feedback mechanisms are expected to be put in place to monitor the successes recorded and periodically review and evaluate the extent of compliance or deviation by successive Governments
(6) By the virtue of being an instrument and vehicle of social engineering, the Legislature is expected to play a critical role by not only giving valuable inputs, but also providing the necessary legal framework for smooth transformation of the blueprint to a public document.
I humbly call on this Government to pioneer this project with the view of securing the future of the state for posterity reasons. Adamawa belongs to all of us, irrespective of our political affiliations. At this critical moment, we must close ranks and come together as a formidable team to pull our resources and harness our potentials to salvage the state from the shackles of economic despondency.
Lastly I want to use this medium to appreciate the decent efforts of this administration in living up to some of its campaign promises irrespective of the daunting security, economic and political challenges. With the legacy project currently going on at the state capital and others scattered across the local governments, I have no iota of doubts that we are moving on the path of progress and sustainable development.
Engr M.A Abubakar writes from Chemical Engineering Dept. MAUTECH Yola and can be reached via 08030585007