As Northern State Governors and Northern Traditional Rulers Council met in Kaduna over banditry, kidnapping and other security challenges bedeviling the region, Governors of Kaduna and Plateau states, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and Hon. Simon Lalong, have said that, it is time for them to provide security to the people in their region and not to engage in blame game.
While Lalong, who is the Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), said, insecurity has become a clog in the wheel of the region’s progress, such that farming which is a major preoccupation of its people is being hampered, at the detriment of the nation’s economy and food security.
El-Rufai noted that, people were looking up to their Governors for solutions to the security challenges and ensuring peace in the north and Nigeria, hence there is no time to engage in analysis-paralysis, and no room to trade blame and engage in partisanship.
According to El-Rufai, the meeting was coming at a moment when the region and the country were confronting monumental perils.
He however said that, “fate has entrusted us with a duty, not only to provide a shelter from the storm, but also to help find a way to remove the triggers of the storm. In discharge of this obligation, many of us continue to engage in nationwide efforts to avert anarchy and advance the prospects of securing a breakthrough moment for our country.
“The northern states are especially affected by these tensions and challenges. In many of our states, criminal elements are wrecking the rural economy, driving our farmers from their fields, threatening lives and livelihoods and putting food security at risk. Communal tensions persist in some places, setting up ethnicity and religion as sources of conflict. We continue to grapple with the challenge of protecting our youth from the vice of substance abuse, and empowering them with skills and jobs.
“The agenda for today’s meeting reflects an awareness of these challenges and our determination to address them. I am delighted to note that we shall be considering the reports of committees we charged last year to propose measures on security, regional economic development, youth engagement and how to better involve our traditional institutions in governance that will contribute in making our region better.
“Working with our traditional institutions, community and civic leaders, we need to accelerate efforts to avail our region every chance to successfully engage the challenges and possibilities of the 21st Century.
“We need enduring peace and security to ensure that our people can prosper and that our states can develop. Amidst the fears and despairs of the moment, we have a chance to offer hope and buoy up the spirit of our people.
“Our people are looking up to us for solutions. We need peace and security in the north and Nigeria. There is no time to engage in analysis-paralysis. There is no room to trading blame. There is no space for partisanship. Our people are in dire straits. We must discharge our duty as leaders to them by collaborating across all divides to solve the challenges that confront our region and Nigeria,” El-Rufai said.
Raising hope of solution to the numerous challenges, Governor Lalong said, the meeting would be receiving reports of several Committees earlier set up to find solutions, adding that, the Committees have done substantial work on the assignments given to them and will go a long way in resolving some of the challenges confronting the region.
According to Lalong, “You will recall that we have met here severally to discuss issues that affect us directly as the North and generally as a Nation. We put in place different Committees to examine some of these issues and report to the Forum. In addition to inviting Mr. President to declare this event opened, we have invited the Chairmen of Council of Emirs and Chiefs in Northern Nigeria, Representatives of the National Assembly from the region and other critical stakeholders to address us on various issues from their perspectives so as to assist us engage in robust discourse that will benefit our people and the entire nation.
“Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 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, industrialization and human capital development among others. All these are exacerbated by the insecurity that has bedeviled us 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.
“Some of the reports we are receiving are from the following committees: Committee on the New Nigeria Development Committee (NNDC) Chaired by Jigawa State Governor, Committee on Security of the North headed by Governor of Katsina State, Committee on Gamji Foundation Chaired by former Governor of Bauchi State with SSGs of Benue and Kaduna States as members, Committee on herdsmen-farmer clashes headed by Plateau State Governor and Committee on the Economy of the North Post-Covid-19 and Financial Sustainability, headed by the Governor of Kebbi State.
“Others are; Committee on Youths Engagement headed by Emir of Zazzau, Committee on Restructuring and Position of the North, headed by the Governor of Sokoto State, Committee on Role of Traditional Rulers headed by Emir of Lafia, Committee on Ending the Almajiri Phenomenon, Committee on Investment in Renewable Energy headed by Governor of Kaduna State, Committee Establishment of a Commercial Bank with Northern Investors as major shareholders headed by the Governor of Sokoto State and Committee on New Nigeria Newspapers Chaired by the SSG Kaduna State.
“These Committees have done substantial work on the assignments given to them and will thus give us a lot to work with in resolving some of the challenges confronting our region. Besides, their recommendations will also help us project a common position on national issues in such a way as to strengthen national unity and galvanise support towards a wholistic approach that will guarantee results,” he said.