by Olusola Fabiyi
Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Thursday called for the establishment of a Ministry of Northern Affairs, saying it could be a solution to the security challenges in the North.
According to him, the ministry should be saddled with the responsibility of tackling widespread unemployment and poverty in the area.
Aregbesola made the call while delivering a speech at symposium on ‘Islam and Peaceful Co-existence in Contemporary Multi-Religious State’ in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, “I’m advocating a Federal Ministry of Northern Affairs that will address issues of unemployment, poverty and women affairs (in the North).
“The Human Development Index from the North is frightening. It is so low and has been so for the past 20 to 30 years.
“One even wonders why it has not influenced specific action from government. If we are really talking about eliminating this scourge as a nation, then we must pay special attention to that horrible situation.
“The current conflict is just one possible consequence of the continued neglect of the problem in the North.
“Addressing poverty is not reducible to giving them handouts alone but empowering people in a way that their creative energy will be channelled towards wealth creation and self-sustenance.
“Employment must mean full and equal opportunities for all, irrespective of sex. There is no way a society will make women unproductive and be sane or economically viable. This is what is happening in the North.
“I want to prick the conscience of this nation to awake to reality that whatever it will take to address the situation in the North must be faithfully done.
“It must not be viewed as a sectional thing. It is a section that has a great potential to contribute to our national development. “
Aregbesola added that Islam was against keeping women idle, adding that in Muslim countries like Morocco, Iran, Egypt and Algeria, women work.
He said the example of these countries was in contrast to what exists in the North where he said economic disempowerment of women “means that about or less than one-third of the adult males sustain that society”.
The governor also said the problems being encountered in the country were created by the Federal Government, saying, “it (FG) must be involved in their resolution”.
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