Aliko Dangote, renowned entrepreneur and Africa's richest man, says northern Nigerian states would remain poor despite the agricultural strength in the states, because they fail to harness the benefit of investing through partnering with private companies.
Dangote, who is a native of Kano State, said the states within the region have the potential to get more wealth from agriculture than oil.
Dangote said this while speaking at the fourth Economic and Investment Summit in Kaduna on Wednesday.
He said: “Northern Nigeria will continue to fall behind if respective state governments do not move to close the development gap and that is why we are always saying that the biggest challenge we have and what we are always praying for is to have 10 governors like Nasir el-Rufai.
“It is instructive to know that the 19 Northern states, which account for over 54 per cent of the country’s population and 70 per cent of its landmass, collectively generated only 21 per cent of the total sub-national internally generated revenue (IGR) in 2017.
“The North should focus on harnessing its massive agricultural potential in terms of production and processing. No region with such agricultural potential should be this poor.
“We have what it takes to turn around our fortunes and I pray all the 19 governors of the Northern states will wake up and follow the Kaduna State example."
Encouraging Northern state governors to invest in Public-Private Partnership, he added: “Private investments will create jobs and go a long way to curb unemployment and poverty. As more people get employed, there will be a sharp decline in some of the social vices now prevalent in our society.
“Kaduna State is a shining example of this. While several states are taking steps in this direction, only a few like Kaduna are making visible progress.
“As capital of the former Northern region, Kaduna continues to lead on several matrix. The state currently has the highest West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) pass rate and second highest IGR generation in the North after Kano."