AFRICA ECONOMY

Nigerian Solid Mineral Exploration: A Data-Centric Perspective to North and South Divide

 From time immemorial, the north and south divide has been understood to be the gulf between the rich and developed countries of the north and the poor developing countries of the south. This socio-economic and political divide is made evidence by things such as a country’s economic development, and the standard of living of its residents. Of course, Europe, North America, and parts of East Asia are the rich ones while Africa, South America, and Central Asia fall under the developing countries. In today’s world, the division has gone beyond geographical boundaries. As nations become economically developed, they become part of “the north,” regardless of their geographic location, while countries that do not qualify for “the developed” status are deemed to be part of the “South.”

Beyond the global divide, there exist internal division countries between northern and southern states. The top of the mind are the UK, Italy, India, and Germany. The north-south divide in the UK, and England in particular, consist of economic and health-related disparities, among other socioeconomic factors. The property-divide dimension has recently been added. In Italy, there exist a financial gap between Italy’s north and south. The history and evolution of it remain an unsettled issue in Italian economics and politics. For India, it is a linguistic, cultural, economic, social divide.  Although the North India constitutes about 79% of the Indian population, it is the plague with underdevelopment, low GDP per capita, and high poverty and illiteracy rate. The south, on the other hand, is more industrialized with high GDP per capita. Germany is also not excluded from this divide. Its southern states are ahead of the northern states. Residents in the south go to better schools, have better jobs, earn more, enjoy better health care, and have healthier governments with finances.

What does data say about Nigeria?

Nigeria’s 186 million people are divided among at least 250 different ethnic groups, scattered all over it geographical location. The country has 36 states, including the federal capital territory. These states are divided into six geopolitical zones, namely south-west, south-north, south-east, north-west, north-east, and north-central. The south consists of all seventeen states: in the south-west, south-south and south-east geopolitical zones which are Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Edo, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo. The north on the other hand consist of the remaining 19 states namely Taraba, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe (North-East), Kogi, Niger, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Nassarawa, the Federal Capital Territory (North-Central), Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina (North-West).

Chart A

Chart A presents the 2016 mining and quarrying (solid minerals) production data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. It tells a tale of two Nigeria -north and south- divided by availability and accessibility of solid minerals. According to data, the southern states mined 19 solid minerals from their earth crust in 2016. This amount to a production output of 24,132,043 tons while the northern states mined 36 different solid minerals but had a total production output of 19,311,006 tons. What a huge difference!  Can one compare the north and the south in this realm? Why is the north not mining so much amid it abundance?

The Side Attraction

Beyond data, the dividing line that exists between the north and the south pre-exists the country Nigeria. Although this line seems invisible, it is evident by the imbalance between northern and southern Nigerians long before amalgamation. So, this difference has historical, political, religious, cultural, social, and economic dimensions.

It is a known fact that the south is more prosperous and boasts of better socioeconomic indicators than the north. The south has extensive oil reserves, and it is Nigeria’s economic mainstay as of today. It also has Lagos, the commercial and media capital of the country. It human development indices are quite impressive.  The north, on the other hand, constitutes the bulk of Nigeria’s population, but it lacks a healthy economic index. Although it houses the political capital of the country-Abuja, its economy is still weak, characterized by de-industrialization, inadequate infrastructure, and high illiteracy and unemployment rate. It has been reported in the media that the; North-West and the North-East have the worse human development indices -high rate of adult literacy, maternal mortality, infant mortality, school drop-out and low girl-child education and poor healthcare facilities with an innumerable disease. So, the solid mineral-divide can be seen as an addition to the already existing gap between the two.

The north has so much but produces little

Why can’t the north, which has more mineral resources, provide more of it 36 available resources? It spread is quite large when compared to the south. But the south produced more from its 19 mineral resources. Look at the diagram below and see again the spread vs. output yourself.

Chart A Again

With all the minerals available in commercial quantity, the north has the potential for growth if it looks within and explores what it has rather than wait on the wealth generated in the south, especially from oil to flow up the pipeline to Abuja and other parts of the north. This can go a long way to bridge the north and south divide. 

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