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North West Govs unite against insecurity

Governors of the seven states in the North West have resolved to work together through robust regional cooperation to solve the seemingly intractable security challenges…

Governors of the seven states in the North West have resolved to work together through robust regional cooperation to solve the seemingly intractable security challenges plaguing the zone.

The governors said this was to pave the way for a robust socio-economic development for the millions of people in the region.

They admitted that lives and sources of livelihood have been lost, and people displaced over the years as a result of activities of non-state actors.

The governors said this yesterday at the end of the two-day North West Peace and Security Summit, held in Katsina, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and with support from the German and Norwegian governments.

They said they have the political will to channel the resources available to them to give a new lease of life to the millions of people in the region.

The governors at the event included Dikko Radda of Katsina State (who served as the chief host); Umar Namadi (Jigawa), and Dauda Lawal (Zamfara).

The governors of Sokoto and Kaduna were represented by their deputies- Engr. Idris Gobir and Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balaraba, while that of Kano was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Abdullahi Bappa Bichi.

Federal lawmakers from the region were in attendance, even as former governors of Katsina State, Aminu Masari and Ibrahim Shema; were all in attendance at the closing of the event.

During the first day of the event, Vice President Kashim Shettima represented President Bola Tinubu; while former President Muhammadu Buhari graced the occasion.

The Minister of Arts and Creative Economy, Barrister Hannatu Musawa; Minister of Youth, Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim,  Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, the Director -General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar; and the representatives of the Inspector General of Police and other security chiefs, were in attendance.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar III, the Emir of Daura,  Alhaji Umar Farouk Umar; Emir of Katsina, HRH. Abdulmumuni Kabir Usman; Emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Najib Hussaini Adamu, among other traditional rulers, as well as members of the diplomatic corps, were present throughout the event.

With the theme ‘Regional Cooperation for Securing Lives and Livelihoods’, resource persons drawn from various sectors like security, agriculture, safety of women and children, and financial inclusion, spoke during various panel sessions on how to get it right in the North West region.

In most of the sessions, the experts were put in the midst of the governors and ministers, a development that paved the way for a robust discussion.

Some of the topics covered included; Farmer-Herder Relations, Exploring Kinetic and Non-Kinetic Strategies for Advancing Peace and Security, Advancing Livelihoods and Food Security for Peace and Resilience, as well as Ending Kidnapping for Ransom, among other thematic areas.


What the governors said

The governors, separately and collectively, agreed that they will resolve their challenges through identifying the comparative advantages of each of the states of the region and collectively helping to leverage on such advantages through regional frameworks.

Commenting on this, Governor Radda, who is the Chairman of North West Governors Forum, said all the governors have already hit the ground running in terms of regional cooperation by identifying three important pillars.

“First of all, we know that we have a common problem of insecurity in this region, so we decided that we should have a common approach to end it, which we adopted using the locals to tackle the problem.

“The other pillar, which is related to the first, is that we have agreed to come up with our state-owned security outfits, and three (states) already have theirs. Kebbi is in the pipeline and Kaduna already has an existing local security arrangement.

“Thirdly, we look at the agriculture, which is the mainstay of our economy, the major source of employment in the region and the major source of income to most of our people.

“We, therefore, take agriculture and agree that we will do it holistically in the region, in the sense that, we don’t have to do the same thing all at the same time. We look at the comparative advantage of each state and take advantage of it as a region,” he said.

Governor Radda then assured that all the governors have shown their willingness to cooperate in achieving that, which means the much needed political will is already in place.

He called on the professionals from  the region to render their support in order to achieve such all-important goal.

Radda also called on international donors to support the effort, not necessarily with funds, but technical knowhow for the North West governors to be able to take the region out of the present state.


We’ve what it takes to defeat bandits – Lawal

On his part, the Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal, said he believed that Nigeria had what it takes to handle bandits, saying it was wrong to think that the criminals could overpower the government, unless there was no system in place.

“And, therefore, if we really want to overcome these problems, a lot needs to be done. And what we need to do, I will keep emphasising on the political will.

“Let me also say this. The problems we are facing in Northern Nigeria today, we, the northerners, are the cause of our problems and unless we make conscious efforts to address these issues holistically, nothing will be done; and these issues will be endless.”

Governor Lawal said the security forces in Nigeria have the capacity to handle, deal with the situation and crush banditry if really given the opportunity.

He said the banditry and kidnap for ransom issues have become a money-making venture and the political leaders must do whatever it takes to make sure they handle the situation the way it should be.

He said serious mistake was made from the time people began to pay ransom to kidnappers, saying there was no reason ransom should be paid.

He said the people collecting ransom, which is free money, were reluctant to stop, adding that they have now been empowered.

“These are people with nothing, no formal education, no exposure, nothing. Suddenly, they realised the importance of money. Unless we stop paying ransom to these people, we are going nowhere,” he said.

“We are here as concerned leaders, as concerned northerners and we must tell ourselves the truth no matter how bitter it is. The reality is the issue of political will. As a nation, we have what it takes to deal with these people decisively. There is no way you can convince me that a small number of people are more powerful than the government. It is absolutely impossible. It is a major challenge for us, the northerners, especially the North Western part Nigeria, because this is where the issues are,” he said.

He called on the leaders to allow the security operatives to do their jobs as they should, saying otherwise in matter of time the problem will consume all.


We’ve reclaimed endangered LGs in Jigawa – Gov Namadi

Governor Namadi of Jigawa on his part said by using community-based conflict resolution mechanism, the state was able to salvage two local government areas in which for the past 25 years, farmer-herder crisis had prevented farming activities.

He said with that feat, the two local government areas were able to go to farm without any crisis, which had helped the state in boosting its agricultural production.

The governor said one of the things that Jigawa did on agriculture as the mainstay of the state’s economy was revising the agricultural policy to have a roadmap for agricultural transformation. He said the policy was factored in the comprehensive development framework of the state.

He said four specific areas were highlighted, which included supply of inputs and finance to the farmers, expansion of irrigation facilities, improvement of animal production, and agric mechanization.

He said with the wheat development programme in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the federal government, Jigawa State, which was given one-third of the total national allocation, was able to cultivate about 55,000 hectares of land.

He added that the state was also able to harvest 800,000 tons of rice using irrigation farming, adding that with a plan to double that during the wet season farming, the state will cultivate at least 1.6million tons of rice, which is 27 per cent of the nation requirement of the commodity.


We’ll restore confidence in our people – Sokoto Deputy Gov

On his part, the deputy governor of Sokoto, Idris Gobir, said that with the current issues of insecurity, the affected states found it difficult to generate enough internally generated revenue, as people were not willing to pay.

He made the comment while discussing the topic: ‘Sustainable Finance’ in the North West as one of the areas of interest of the summit.

He said with the kind of commitment and determination shown by the governors, by working together, they would be able to change the people’s perception of governance and understand their responsibilities and role in the regional development.

“Even though the government is doing its best to support the farmers, our people will always hide behind insecurity in order to escape the payment of taxes.

“For instance, there was a time we supplied water pumps to the farmers during which they made over N2billion from water melon farming, but the state could not benefit much from the yield because the people were not able to pay taxes,” he said.

“So, for us to be able to improve our revenue generation and improve our financial capabilities, we will surely need to restore peace and normalcy to our areas,” he added.


Kano keeps the region going – SSG

In his comment, Secretary to State Government (SSG), Kano, Dr Abdullahi Bappa Bichi said the state had remained a rallying point. He said as a result of insurgency and banditry, millions of people from the North East and other North Western states had found succour in Kano, in addition to getting access to economic opportunities.

Speaking earlier at the commencement of the forum, President Tinubu through Vice President Shettima, said in order to come up with pragmatic solutions to security challenges in the North West, the government adopted kinetic and non-kinetic interventions designed to build the perimeter of the nation’s security infrastructure.

He said the Pulaaku resettlement initiative was one of the non-kinetic interventions rolled out by the administration, saying it was a timely solution to address some of the root causes of disputes and insecurity in the region.

The Resident Representative of UNDP, Elsie Attafuah, said with collective effort, the North West would come out of its challenges and the people will prosper.

She said the UNDP was committed to immediate preventive support to the North West, structural peacebuilding and community security, and strengthening civil-military relations.

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