The Federal and state governments in Nigeria have been challenged to create job opportunities to the common people through investment in agriculture and entrepreneurship in order to ensure peace and stability in the country.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar 111 who spoke Tuesday at the opening ceremony of second Kano Economic and Investment Summit said there was need to encourage small businesses for the common people to thrive.
He said, “Our people are not greedy, support the common man with smaller businesses so that our people can have food to eat. When you do this, they will be happy and when they are happy, we will have peace and a descent society, because a descent society builds a great nation.”
The Sultan who described Kano as his home commended Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for his people-oriented projects, adding that, “we have come to lend our support to Governor Ganduje in his effort to reposition Kano towards development. We are here to strengthen him and we want to assure him of our support.
“We (traditional rulers) are supposed to be seen and not to be heard so much and therefore, we work under ground, we will continue to help our political leaders, and we are also working together with them, we believe in their ability and capacity to create jobs and develop the economy and move our people forward.”
In his remark, the Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi 11 stressed the need to invest in agriculture, noting that focus in agriculture will surely add value to the economy of Kano and Nigeria as a whole.
He said, “economics is not rocket science. Countries that have developed went through a certain act and that act is value creation. We must obviously focus on agriculture and certainly, we must look at agricultural productivity. I have my experience working with small farmers and I understand that it takes a little to double or triple their outputs; and double or triple their incomes. It is about giving them the right information, doing the right soil text, giving them the right input, working with them and scaling them up as cooperatives, and giving them access to market.
“We have worked with a number of farmers in Kaduna and Kano states. The state government has had that experience, we have seen the anchor-borrower programme in agriculture, it is very easy to move productivity in Nigeria’s agriculture from the current 2.2 metric tons per hectre on most crops to 789 metric tons per hectre. Agriculture is a critical element of any investment. So, we will like to invite to invest in agriculture.
“I heard the minister talk about the groundnut pyramid. We all want to see the groundnut pyramid back, but we don’t want to see Kano exporting groundnut. We want those pyramids to go into oil mills where it will have an added value; and we want to produce the oil for the local markets, and for the foreign markets.
“Nigeria is a country with 170 million people. An economic model that focuses on exports misses the point. Everybody is trying to sell goods to Nigerians. Shoes, textiles, building materials, food and what have you. The Chinese are selling shoes and textiles and slippers and everything to us! What we want is to produce those goods locally and sell to the market.
“Kano holds the potential. We have got the leather industry. Kano gold skin is the Moroccan leather which is the best leather in the world. We can produce all the shoes we need in this country, we can produce all the bags we need in this country. Now, you can imagine the number of children who go to school, just producing leather shoes for school children in Nigeria is a massive industry.
“We don’t need to start competing with Gucci and other notable shoe companies, we produce local party shoes; and we create jobs. We use our cotton and produce our own textiles. We take our own cassava and produce our own starch and our ethanol. We take our own crude oil and produce our own refined products.
“I have always said that the problem with Nigeria and all sessions of Nigeria is that we intend to import what we can produce, export what we do not produce. So we are the crude oil producing country, but we import petroleum products, we have hide and skin and we import shoes. We have cotton and we import textiles, there is absolutely no reason for that.
“So, I am to say that the federal government has a plan. I am hoping that we will continue to make progress on foreign exchange policies. Ii ma hoping that all the states will key into this. Kano has a population of, at least, 12 million people of young entrepreneurial, vibrant and committed people, with rich history and culture–this is the place to be.
“Kano also has the ability to manage its crisis and its tensions and productive tensions; and this is one of the strengths of Kano–its vibrancy. So, you are welcome and we can assure you from the government side and the emirate side, you will get out total support and encouragement; and we hope that investors will come in and look critically at these areas of opportunities.
“Invest here, we have nothing against foreigners, we will like the Chinese and the Indians and the Americans, and the French and the Arabs to come and set up factories here.
“We will like people from all over the country to come and set up factories here, to employ people here, to produce goods here and to sell goods here. You will come and make a lot of money while creating jobs and building an economy; and this is what this summit is all about.”