Untapped economic potentials   Solid minerals: Gold, Lithium, etc.   Information technology (ICT)  
Stronger economies together   Arewa center of excellence   Arewa strategic development  
Era of collaboration & partnership   Small & medium enterprises   Arewa regional decision makers  
Arewa demographic shifts   Arewa, the quest for unity   Publications  



Sept 2019


Engage Talent & Strengthen Collaboration and Innovation Networks

By Dr Baba J Adamu

l Contact l

Research has consistently shown that diverse teams produce better results, provided they are well led. The ability to bring together people/talent from different backgrounds, disciplines, ethnic/cultures, religion, generations, even political affiliation and leverage all they have to offer, is a must-do for leaders who want positive development and peaceful coexistence. By creating Center of Excellence in every State in the region, allowing and supporting them to focus on the use of States within the regional networks to accelerate innovation, partnership and collaboration, enabling people in loosely-joined, open networks to think and act strategically; and in partnership with local private sector and Small Business Development Center’s across the World, it would also  showcase the pivotal role of small and medium scale enterprises (SMSEs)  to employment growth and prosperity and investment and business opportunities to the world, with the goal of making the region an investment destination.

Collaborate at the Top First

It’s not enough for leaders to spot collaborative opportunities and attract the best talent to them. They must also set the tone by being good collaborators themselves. All too often, efforts to collaborate in the middle are sabotaged by political games and turf battles higher up in leadership. To partner and collaborate more effectively the Northern States Governors must demonstrate good collaborators themselves.


Show a Strong Hand

As with the issue of complacency, once leaders start getting these centers to collaborate, they face a different problem: overdoing it. Too often people will try to collaborate on everything and wind up in endless meetings, debating ideas and struggling to find consensus. They can’t reach decisions and execute quickly. Collaboration becomes not the oil greasing the wheel but the sand grinding it to a halt. The solution should be emphasis on a balanced approach to development and following already established targets and timelines for economic growth of the region.


Solid Mineral & Agriculture

Northern Nigeria is blessed with land for agriculture as well as natural mineral resources sufficiently concentrated in commercial quantity for commercial exploitation. Mining opportunities are huge and there is no state in Northern Nigeria that does not have different mineral resources in commercial quantity. Some of the minerals include gold, lithium ore, iron ore, mercury, ironstone, limestone, lead, zinc, crude oil, natural gas, marble, dolomite, clay, emerald, aquamarine, columbite, tantalite, manganese, vanadium, chromite, wolfram, limonite, tourmaline, zircon, ruby, sapphire, topaz, fluorspar, coal, mica, garnet, glass sand, beryil, graphite, spinel, kaolin, zoisite, agates, onyx, barytes, etc. Northern Nigeria is therefore amply endowed with many useful solid minerals which appropriate incentives and the political will of governments will stimulate private sector participation leading to industrialization and human capital development. This means, States, through their Center for Excellence could collaborate with genuine investors to establish mineral-based industries, including petrochemical, refinery, detergents, metallurgical, cement, electronic, pharmaceuticals, fertilizer, animal feeds, ornaments, kaolin plants, etc., including agro-allied industries and livestock value chain (more details under herdsmen/farmers crises).

We have neglected science, engineering, medicine and technology for a very long time and schools have been relegated, teachers incompetent, research and development (R&D) almost non-existence or not encouraged, consequently, equipment, machinery, services, raw materials, research-development and even human capital are continuously being imported, so many misdiagnoses resulting to medical holidays abroad for simple ailment. Industrialization is a process of social and economic change whereby a society is transformed into a modern, innovative and efficient system with good family societal values that ushered in a form of philosophical change, where people develop a different attitude towards one another, toward their perception of their environment and thus their well-being. Research has shown that Northern Nigeria receive six hundred (600) watts of solar energy per square meter for a daily average of 11 hours thereby making the region among the highest in the world of quality sunshine. If only 0.1% of this sunshine is converted and harnessed at an efficiency of just 1%, it will almost meet the energy needs of the entire Northern states. Solar can be used to design and develop a photovoltaic powered lighting and other applications. Many have suggested that, with constant power supply, processed tomatoes, onions, ginger, carrots, beans, chilli pepper, potatoes, groundnuts, vegetable oils, sweeteners and syrups from grains, livestock feeds, cotton, etc, which are available in commercial quantity could bring Northern Nigeria out of its present depression. Almost everyone opines that Northern State Governors should not only begin to realign their spending more towards attracting, protecting and retaining investors in the solid mineral and agricultural sectors of their various States and the region as a whole but also embark on enhanced social investment in mass education and skills training. Since the North remains home to vast areas of arable land and once boasted groundnut pyramids that dotted the landscape, such pyramids can once again come back to become a cash crop that will finance families and empower the region. The climate is also perfect for cotton, which can easily be leveraged into a textile and garment industry using technology for local businesses to create competitive advantage with other small African countries involved in the sector. Like what the Chinese did some years back: built tangible infrastructure: power, water and access roads, educated and skill-upgraded their people making them easily trainable, registered them: created state manpower Database of every graduate, entrepreneurs and those that acquired the “in-thing skills”, then invited investor (mostly Americans and Europeans) with huge unbelievable incentives. The catch! Any investor must employ at least 40% of Chinese workforce and they most come from the created state manpower Database. Already, the Chinese government had made sure that some educated entrepreneurs. PhDs, etc., were included in the Database with a clear instruction to go into these companies, learn most of their trade and in 3 to 5 years quit and start their own company, with government financial support of-course; and clear instruction to first start copying and gradually innovate to compete with the original company. The end is history, now, they don’t only compete but lead in many sectors. Likewise, during Reagan and Japanese renegotiation of their economic partnership agreement, Reagan compelled (re-negotiated) the Japanese to set up industries in the US, manufacture locally any product, including cars and parts that they sell 2.5 million pieces or more in the USA and also to employ 60% or more of local workforce, this boosted the US economy significantly. Today, Chinese sell millions of various products in our region and Nigeria all produced not in Nigeria, not even in Africa but in China.

Recommendation 1 - Actionable Plan

The inputs received conclude that following this simple concept will enable northern region to develop its strategic transition plan, address economic shocks and volatility as well as develop collaborative networking program and decision making strategy. States Leadership within the region should come together to create and adopt a five (5) year Arewa Regional Economic Plan as soon as possible this year or early next year with emphasis on a balanced approach to development and established targets for economic growth of the region. The plan should be built on the ideas highlighted above as well as current regional opportunities, collaboration and innovation.


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