Governors of Nigeria’s 36 states under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Tuesday expressed worry over the deteriorating security challenges bedevilling the country, particularly in the North-west.
To stem the tide, they committed themselves to upping the ante in the war against bandits, kidnappers and other criminals.
NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, told journalists in Katsina that they were concerned that killings, kidnapping and other nefarious activities have become a daily occurrence in the country.
Fayemi, who was accompanied by the Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Bagudu and the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, were in Katsina State on a solidarity visit to the Governor, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, over the kidnapping of 344 pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, on December 11. The pupils were, however, rescued about a week later.
Earlier, the governors had held a closed-door meeting with Masari.
The NGF delegation also visited the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, expressing support for his anti-banditry campaign in the North-west.
Fayemi explained that the NGF would be tough on banditry, kidnapping and other criminalities in order to tackle the carnage and find a lasting solution to the prevailing security challenges facing the farmers in the zone.
He, however, urged the governors to provide youths with alternative means of livelihood and support system in order to prevent criminal cartels from recruiting them to actualise their evil agenda.
He said: “We as governors, we are still very concerned about the security situation in the North-west and the entire country. This is almost a daily occurrence and the governors are spending the resources; material and human, on this priority issue, which pervades the whole of our country.
“We are all tired and frustrated that these issues are happening but we know that with concerted efforts on our part as governors and the commitment of the federal government and the professional conducts of our security services, and our social investment programmes intensified, we shall see the end of this criminality, this brigandage in our states.
“So we are here in solidarity with the governor and the good people of Katsina State to reassure them, give them hope that help is on the way. We will work together and return our country to peace, progress, development and prosperity.
“We have to ensure that our states drive away our young people from the merchants of death who are using them as cannon fodders for this criminal brigandage and we can only do that if we provide them with an alternative means of livelihood and support system that will not entails them to these elements that are endangering the whole of our country.
“We believed that we not only have to be tough on banditry, kidnapping and criminality generally, but we also have to be tough on the causes of these problems and social inequality, poverty are key issues.”
He pledged the NGF’s commitment to work with the federal government and security agencies “so that we don’t keep talking about the same thing over and over again.”
Also, the NGF’s delegation, during the visit to Matawalle, expressed its support for his anti-banditry campaign in the North-west.
Fayemi, who led the delegation to the governor at the Zamfara State Government Lodge, Abuja, said the forum supported the efforts being made by Matawalle in the fight against banditry and other criminality in Zamfara State and the North-west.
“We note your single-mindedness in this pursuit and we also note the positive results being recorded by your approach in the fight against the menace of banditry in your state and the North-west as a whole.
“All the Nigerian governors stand as one in your support at this hour, your total commitment to the liberation of our people from the activities of these criminals in your state and the region,” he stated.
He assured Matawalle of the NGF’s assistance in ensuring that the problem of insecurity in the state is solved. “Whatever we can do to assist, we shall do it. We are here to encourage you to do more and we are solidly behind you. We pray that the year 2021 will be the year of peace and by the grace of God, the peace we shall have,” he added.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the support he is rendering in the fight against banditry, especially the supply of Special forces to Zamfara State.
He also, on behalf of the governors, commiserated with Matawalle over the lives lost in the state to banditry.
Responding, Matawalle said he was elated and encouraged by the visit, which will serve as an elixir for his renewed efforts to do more so that his people can sleep soundly.
“No amount of discouragement can deter me from doing what is right to salvage my people from the menace of banditry and other criminality”, he said.
He noted with utter dismay that after sleepless nights he spent working hard to assist in the release of Kankara children, a spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) accused him of harbouring bandits who terrorise his neighbours.
“I intended to sue in this case, but for the intervention of my brother, the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who assured me the officer will be reprimanded for such a callous statement. I am waiting to see the action that the APC will take since it has dissociated itself from the statement,” Matawalle said.
He commended the NGF for the encouragement and financial support to the victims of banditry in the state.
He also commended Buhari for the support he has always rendered to him in the fight against banditry in the state.
Francis Sardauna in Katsina