Mr Gabriel Aduku, Former Minister of State for Health on Sunday said that harnessing the potentials of Rivers Niger and Benue would solve Nigeria’s Power and economic challenge.
Aduku said this at a World Press Conference on Unlocking the Potentials of Rivers Niger and Benue for Sustainable Livelihood and Inclusive Development organised by YG-Consult in Abuja.
According to him, nature has been very generous to Nigeria in terms of human and material resources and they are begging to be harnessed to improve standard of living and guarantee economic prosperity.
He said that Nigeria’s inability to effectively maximise her potentials to combat poverty was responsible for the fragile peace experienced in the face of violent crimes, unemployment, terrorism, disease that the nation was exposed to.
Rivers Niger and Benue are not just nature’s gifts but have the potential to generate power, promote national integration, engender productivity, create jobs, business opportunities and livelihood for millions of Nigerians.
Exploiting the potentials of these two rivers could create employment for over four million youths in the contiguous states.
This will come from the small business clusters that will grow from the infrastructural development and economic activities around the rivers.
If we consider the fact that currently 96 per cent of all businesses in Nigeria are MSMEs providing 60 to 70 per cent of the total number of employed Nigerians.
It becomes easy to realise that stimulating more activities in the MSMEs sector will ultimately improve human capital investment and positively impact the Nigerian economy.”
Aduku said there was need to provide modern infrastructure and innovative projects around these rivers that passed through Mali, Niger, and Benin Republic as exemplified in other climes.
He said that the rivers if harnessed could generate most of the electricity needed to drive Nigeria’s struggling industries and cut the current prohibitive costs of production that drove many companies to extinction.
The former minister said that by also stimulating more agricultural activities through irrigation form the rivers, four million youths would be redeemed across the 14 states that close to the rivers.
He said that there would be a ripple effect from exploiting the potentials of the rivers ranging from all-year farming to large exportation of farm produce to food security.
Aduku said that when seaports were built around the rivers, it would ease transportation and reduce traffic on roads thereby reducing road crashes.
He said that YG-Consult having done studies on the potentials of the rivers was ready to offer its partnership to the government and development partners to put in place transformative projects that would facilitate development.
He listed some of the identified projects as, Smart cities ,irrigation, hydroponic and aquaponic farming ,smart land and water transportation systems, cultural industries Science and Nanotechnology tourism and water sports among others.
Aduku recommended that the federal government should amend and harmonise related laws to support the development of the projects and designate the Niger-Benue trough as special development area.
He also called on the government to designate the rivers confluence as economic zone for development of smart city and Nigeria’s Iconic Dome and grant the projects along the trough duty-free status.
He also called on state governments to allocate lands for each project, provide security, establish advisory teams, participate in attracting investors and partner with YG-Consult in planning the design of the projects.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that YG-Consult is a group of professionals concerned with nation building with the aim of raising national consciousness to the enormous advantages rivers Niger and Benue offer.
Source: Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)