President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that Nigeria’s security challenges would be tackled militarily, just as the Arewa Elders, under the umbrella of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), yesterday, cautioned northern governors to work together and avoid public disagreement on how to combat the issue.
The 19 Northern governors met with the President’s representatives yesterday to seek an immediate end to the general insecurity plaguing the country.
On the president’s team were Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, all traditional rulers in the North, led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Sa’ad 111, National Assembly leaders and the Inspection General of Police (IGP).
Others are the Director-General of Directorate of Security Services (DSS) and Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
Professor Gambari, who represented President Buhari at the occasion, said it is time to come together and find a solution to the pervading insecurity that has hindered economic development and put Nigerians in “misery, poverty, squalor and fear.”
According to Buhari, the gathering of the governors and other stakeholders will put together the strategic plans needed by the government to combat the killings, banditry and kidnappings that have “affected our people so much.”
He said the federal government would continue to deal with the insurgency, saying it would not relent in flushing out criminal elements in Nigeria for peace to reign.
Buhari remarked that “criminals are criminals and they will be dealt with accordingly.
“We are already dealing with insecurity in the country, which is slowing down the economic prosperity and emancipation of our people from poverty. We will continue to deal with insurgency, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to the development of our nation.”
The president further stressed that he had “already passed down a new strategy to deal with the security problems in the country,” while urging the Governors’ Forum to also “devise ways of dealing with these security challenges” in their states.
He said: “Without peace, there will be no way for purposeful development. You should see a threat to peace and security in any part of this country as a threat to all parts of the nation.”
Besides, the Secretary-General of the NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a goodwill message to the governors on how to fight insecurity in the North, said: “The Northern governors should be the custodians of the North and must be seen to be proffering solutions to its problems. There should be no room for animosity among the governors. And do not send wrong signals to the public that your house is not in order. There is a need for you to find solutions to the problems facing the North today.
Baba-Ahmed further stressed: “We must avoid a situation where Northerners leave in large numbers from the South and come back to the North. It will send wrong signals and we know what that will mean to this country.”
“It is time for our governments to double their efforts against these security problems. We have seen kidnappings, banditry, killings in Katsina, Kaduna, Niger states and other places.”
He commended northern governors over their recent visit to the South West to meet with their leaders over the fracas that occurred in some areas.
Meanwhile, in his address, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong said: “Our region continues to carry, perhaps, the heaviest burden of development in the country, where the indices for quality of life are low within a large percentage of our population.
“Statistics have shown that we have a long way to go in terms of education, healthcare delivery, infrastructural development, food security, industrialisation and human capital development among others. All these are exacerbated by the insecurity that has bedeviled the North and the entire nation for many years now.
“This is why at several periods, we set up various committees to look into specific issues and advise us on what kind of measures to adopt in changing the narrative. I am glad that, at this meeting, we shall be receiving and considering several reports from those committees with a view to charting a new way forward.
“May I, therefore, remind us all that some of the issues mentioned above are not peculiar to our region, but the ways we handle them will to a large extent shape how they are resolved at the national level. For instance, the issue of insecurity has become a clog in the wheel of progress such that farming which is a major preoccupation of our people is being hampered. The result is that the economy of the nation is gradually being affected and food security also jeopardised.”
On the issue of herder-farmer clashes that has in recent weeks generated serious concerns because of reactions from various parts of the country, Lalong said the Northern governors remained firm on resolving the matter carefully and with an open mind.
“While we agree that open grazing is no longer sustainable for obvious reasons, the Forum has also keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) as a veritable option that will go a long way in ending these clashes through organised ranching.”