The Arewa Development Support Initiative (ADSI) is a non-governmental organisation founded two years ago by individuals with diverse backgrounds, with the aim of returning the North to its past glory. In this interview with the group’s founder and president, Khuraira Musa, she said they were making substantial efforts to help address the spate of insecurity in the region. She also spoke on other issues.
Recently, your organisation advised Arewa youths to be patient over the current happenings in the country. Why are you so concerned?
The ADSI believes in the peaceful coexistence of all citizens to foster progress and bring development and prosperity to our region and the country. Advising our youths to exercise patience in the face of provocation does not mean weakness or cowardice but being smart and strong. Retaliation and destruction of our collective developmental efforts have never been a virtue of the strong, and Arewa has never been known for that. Why would you be an agent of destruction of what you and your forefathers laboured to build.
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How does the ADSI plan to reduce poverty among the youth and women?
We plan to do that through skills acquisition and mentoring. Training and retraining our youths and women in diverse vocations for self-entrepreneurship is a sure way and strategy we have adapted to reduce poverty in the region.
From our meet-the-people tours we have observed that the skills of our people are poor and substandard. So we have, in some couple of months ago, re-certified many of our young people by retraining them to improve on their performance and be adaptive to the value chain of the ever changing environment of needs. Most of our training template is tailored towards the needs of the Arewa environment. Such trainings are carried out by experts. As a way of ensuring that all our beneficiaries are responsible Arewa citizens, the ADSI secures guarantor information, which is stored in our database for reference purposes. This means your security and that of your family is protected. It is equally a way of following up after the training.
What role do you think the youth would play in rebuilding the North?
From our engagement so far, Arewa youths are very responsible, brilliant, smart, competitive, vibrant, resourceful, engaging, hard-working with lots of innovative ideas. All that is needed at this point in time is to start a process of sincere engagement, assignment of responsibilities to them, believing in their abilities to performance, and most importantly, trusting that they can do it and make Arewa proud anywhere in the world.
Insecurity is a major issue in Arewa; what would your organisation do to help in addressing it?
Insecurity cannot be entirely prevented, but it can be reduced. What we are doing to support in this regard have been by way of advocacy campaigns and empowerment programmes. So far, we have done that in 12 out of the 19 northern states. We believe in the saying that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Once a mind is engaged, it thinks and works positively and generates energies to solve human problems. Equally, a hungry man is an angry man that can never be predictable, so by engaging the minds in a positive direction, we believe that insecurity in Arewa would be curtailed soon.
Herdsmen and farmers’ clashes have been a problem, with no solution in sight. Does the ADSI have any idea on how to bring both parties together for a dialogue?
We advocate a community-based dispute resolution mechanism as it had always been before politics came into play and tends to divide us. These little disputes and differences were amicably resolved by farmers and herders with the intervention of village heads. The ADSI wants to use that concept and bring everyone to the table to discuss the best way out. Nothing can be solved without dialogue. The best way is to have a frank discussion with the farmers, herders, rural leaders and government officials. The blame game is for buying time while both farmers and herders are losing.
With all the present uncertainties, do you see Nigeria coming together as one prosperous country?
I am a core optimist and believer in the Nigerian project. Nigeria is just passing through a phase of her nationhood; and believe me, very soon, this evil wave will pass away and we will be back as we used to be in the time of our forefathers.