The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, yesterday, accused the Federal Government of not showing enough political will to address the worsening security situation in the North, saying it has been turned to a land of bandits.
Addressing newsmen in Zaria, Kaduna State, Chairman of NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi said the group demands “for decisive, comprehensive and fundamental governmental action against poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity.”
Similarly, some indigenes of Jukun ethnic group in Taraba State have cried out over the rising spate of secret killings and kidnapping taking place in the southern part of the state.
This came as the Police headquarters said that in continuation of its onslaught against bandits and kidnappers on the Abuja-Kaduna highway (Operation Puff Adder), its operatives during the week gunned down nine notorious criminals terrorizing travellers on the road.
Also, the Nigerian Air Force said its Air Task Force, ATF, for Operation Diran Mikiya destroyed some logistics stores belonging to the bandits at a location within Kagara Forest in Zamfara State on Saturday.
NEF’s Prof Abdullahi, at the briefing said: “Today, the North still lives under horrendous Boko Haram threats, a situation which has been aggravated by threats of banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, marauding youth gangs, herders and farmers mini-wars, and seemingly overwhelmed or indifferent governments. Large swathes of territory in our region are now effectively bandit land.
“We are alarmed and our members saddened by the recent cataclysmic collapse of security, and the sanguinary and indeed colossal threat to life and property in many parts of Nigeria but more seriously in the North.
“We cannot in good conscience remain silent as criminal activities and blood-letting escalate in Nigeria and our region. We have sadly lived with unfortunate violence in the last few years but this should not continue or escalate.
“It will be irresponsible for us to refrain from calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to decisively respond to the existential threats faced by Northern Nigerians in particular during these times and beyond. NEF as a matter of social responsibility and tradition, would never shy away from speaking truth to power, irrespective of the partisan, sectional or whatever constellation of political power in the nation.
“It will be recalled that we strongly engaged President Goodluck Jonathan on the need to address the Boko Haram insurgency and even proffered solutions as far back as 2012. All our efforts seemed to have been vitiated by a weak political will and monumental political corruption.
“Agriculture, our pride and national economic comparative advantage, the greatest employer of labour and leading contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product is in ruins as animal husbandry, and crops and roots farming are in the throes of war and damage.
“Our rural folk live in perpetual fear of attacks from sundry terrorist assailants without any reprieve. Our major highways and transportation systems are being abandoned as they have become death traps. We see in all these the cumulative effect of a region whose economy and people, especially the youth have been abandoned. A dangerous youth bulge is indeed a recipe for crime, violence and wars. We understand that poverty and underdevelopment can create a brutish and violent society.
“Should the Nigerian people continue to run and hide from criminals under an administration that has enjoyed and received support from especially Northern Nigerians that it can address their existential and developmental challenges? We expect the administration to address all the short, medium and long term challenges of security and development in a manner that minimal security and good livelihoods can be assured and sustained.
“Are these things rocket science? We believe not. What we believe is that given the political will and commitment, Nigeria has the human resources and ideas to address these challenges. Are the challenges those of under-funding the policing and security apparatuses, or is it a challenge of problem analysis or policy failure? Governments world-wide are expected to handle these matters as a primary responsibility.
“We demand that President Buhari should demonstrate higher levels of concern and sensitivity to the plight of traumatized citizens in the country, especially in the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and virtually the entire North.
“We demand for decisive, comprehensive and fundamental governmental action against poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity. Above all, we demand that President Buhari shows leadership and compassion which are the reciprocal expectations of the Nigerian people from their President.”