THE industrial edge of the North is long gone! It’s like an earthquake struck and wiped away all the blossoming industries that used to dot the length and breadth of the region and produced enormous wealth for the natives.
From footwears industries to fabrics manufacturing and essential goods-producing entities, the North is now bereft of going industrial concerns, leaving many in wanton poverty, prolonged joblessness and underemployment in a region that once boasted of all the robust and high-paying jobs anywhere one turned.
The North took its pre-eminent industrial position apparently because the Premier of defunct Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, ensured that Kaduna, its capital then, was patterned like a mini Manchester, an industrial hub in England.
His ambitious industrial plan for the North worked out well because before his death, Northern Nigeria was not only the envy of the other regions in Nigeria in terms of agro-allied industries but was also a source of attraction and model of development to some independent countries within the British Commonwealth of nations. For instance, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and many African countries benefited from the North during their early post-independence years before some of them pushed on to economic growth and prosperity.
Sardauna’s Kaduna, for example, according to history, had textile mills that were second to the Northern Nigeria Civil Service in providing employment to the citizens. Agriculture was so robust that very few Northerners found migration to the major towns and cities for the proverbial white-collar job, attractive. As it were, every province in the region was encouraged and empowered to fully utilise the benefits of its comparative advantage in production.
For that reason, Northern farmers were prosperous because they were allowed to enjoy the price their agricultural products deserved in the markets. Consequently, multi-national corporations were in all major cities in the North and their wholesale and retail outlets such as Leventis, Kingsway, UAC, Bhojsons, Chelarams, UTC, Peugeot, Mandilas, Steyr, Tate & Lyle, Yamaco, NASCO, etc., flourished immensely.
It was a good business climate as the Northern economy propelled people from all walks of life to patronise such corporations until the gradual decline of its splendour about three decades. Some of these mega stores began to shut down mainly due to low patronage and other factors. A few other industrial concerns that struggled to stay afloat could hardly do more than producing and selling confectionaries and groceries up to the late 1990s before winding up the business.