Amid escalating killings by Boko Haram, bandits, criminal herders and kidnappers in the country, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday declared that the federal government, “is rising stoutly” to the numerous insecurity challenges and that government is alive to its responsibility.
The Minister, who spoke on a television programme in reaction to the recent meeting between Sheik Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, and some bandits in Zamfara State stated: “We (FG) are not only rising to the security challenges but we are also making a success of it.”
The minister appealed to all stakeholders involved in finding solution to the persisting conflict involving farmers and herders across the country to also strive to reduce tension, adding that waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments on the crisis was not important.
He said: “I think we should lower the tension. Nigeria is a big country, diverse. We must continue to live together, recognising each other’s rights.
“We are not going to score any advantage by heating up the polity. I think the governors, traditional rulers and religious leaders are all doing their best to ensure all issues are resolved.
“Comments (of the president) are not of importance; it is the steps the government is taking, and I can assure you there are a lot of back-channel approaches being taken to ensure that all these crises are tamed.”
On the meeting Sheik Gumi is having with bandits in the forest of Zamfara, where he appealed for peace, Lai Mohammed said there was nothing unusual about it.
He said bandits and criminal elements “are more willing” to listen to religious leaders as mediators than the government.
“There is nothing unusual about employing the services of religious leaders to act as a bridge between the government and bandits. The government employs back-channel approaches in solving crisis.
“As I explained, when we want to resolve issues like this, we use a lot of back-channels. Again, it is not unusual to use a respected cleric to have the confidence of outlaws or bandits. As a matter of fact, they are probably ready to listen to him more than they are ready to listen to the government.
“They are probably ready to believe in them, so it is not unusual for him to act as a bridge between the government and outlaws to find solutions,” the minister said.
On the herdsmen crisis and the activism of Sunday Igboho, the minister said non-state actors were free to talk but the government was poised to ensuring the security of lives and property in the country.
The minister said: “I am glad that political leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders are all coming together to ensure that this matter, not just in the South-West, but everywhere else is resolved.
“We are not going to score any advantage by heating up the polity. The governors, the traditional rulers and religious leaders are all doing their best to ensure that all issues are resolved.”