Niger State, the largest state in Nigeria (76, 363 km2), is bigger than 10 states (73,643 km2) in the country combined.
Mashegu LGA (9, 182 km2) in Niger is larger than Anambra and Lagos combined (8,189 km2).
Lapai LG is about the size of Lagos; Rafi, Rijau, Magama, Mokwa and Shiroro LGs are bigger than Lagos State; and Mariga LG is bigger than Imo State.
What does this mean?
It means that the Federal Government should take this size into consideration when creating policies.
For example, if the FG were to distribute equally among the LGs its ongoing interventions in primary healthcare centres, a pregnant woman in Mashegu may travel for hours before getting to a clinic.
If the government were to distribute, say one PHC per ward, our people would be cheated because one ward in Niger can equal the size of a local government in other places. That is, our people are scattered over the vast land and not concentrated in a few locations.
Therefore, treating them equally in the same fashion with the people of other places wouldn’t be fair; because in this case, equality doesn’t equal equity.
It means that the over 1500 kilometres of FG roads in the state are bad and require special consideration from FG because we are not equal with others. The state government has its own 3,000 kilometres of roads to battle with.
Therefore giving us equal spend on road construction with other states as was done with Sukuk wouldn’t be a fair distribution. We have more roads therefore deserve more attention.
It is like a man with two wives. One wife has one child and the other has 10 children. Should he give them the same upkeep if they are living in the same city?
If he does, the children of the second wife will go hungry, miss school and receive poor health care.
It means that we can save the country in food production. Just as Africa is projected to save the world because of its 4 billion acres of farmable land, 80% of Niger State is farmable and over 600, 000 hectares of it is irrigable, but only 105,000 hectares are currently in use annually.
That’s why in the NEXT LEVEL, the state government wants to build its economic growth by leveraging our vast land and engaging youth in agriculture. The government wants to start with 30,000 hectares of cassava for each senatorial district. The off-takers have already been identified. There are similar designs for other crops.
The state government has also gone far regarding livestock. Bobi Grazing Reserve in Mariga Local Government Area with 33,000 hectares is already earmarked to be a game changer and a flagship solution in resolving farmer/herders clashes. The former minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, has already visited. Boreholes have already been dug, 100 hectares cleared and fences erected.
The state government needs more support from FG so that Niger can save everyone in food production.
Remember we’re already saving the nation with electricity through our three hydropower stations (Jebba, Kainji and Shiroro) whenever there’s a problem with gas supply to other stations.
We are also the biggest rice producer in the country. Yes, bigger than Kebbi!
That is according to Agricultural Performance Survey (APS 2017) of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
Here’s Thisday’s report on the subject:
“Providing highlights to the 2017 APS,
Prof. Muhammed K. Othman, the Executive Director, NAERLS, noted some constraints to agricultural production in the year included, severe flooding, poor farm input provision, and poor extension support amongst others.
Rice is the commonest food staple consumed in almost all households in the country. Niger produced 545,700 metric tonnes (MT) of rice to top the national production output for the 2017 wet season.”
Electorally, we also deserve special consideration. Niger State alone gave Buhari more votes than the entire Southeast and gave PDP more distance than the entire Southwest.
Above are the reasons why we should be given more accommodation on intervention programmes – we merit it, we need it, we deserve it.
The Federal Government should start with Baro Port, because right now, there’s nothing in Baro – so much hype, so little work. Fixing Baro would truly help businesses in Northern Nigeria – and I dare say, Southern Nigeria.
This is also a call to the private sector to join the march, because Niger is “on the march again.”