NIGERIAN GOVERNORS FORUM OPTS FOR NEGOTIATION WITH BANDITS

There were strong indications on Tuesday that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum might opt for dialogue with bandits and people affected by their atrocities  to address insecurity in the country.

The Chairman of the NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi, gave this indication when he led some members of the forum on a  solidarity visit to the Niger State Governor, Sani Bello, in Minna, the state capital.

Recall that gunmen on Wednesday last week stormed  Government Science College, Kagara in the Rafi Local Government Area of the state and abducted 27 students and 15 workers.

Fayemi, during the visit to Minna,  stated,  “We all feel your pain. We feel the fears and the anxieties of the good people of Niger State.  This is not something that is uncommon.  What happens here is not unique to you. You have been part of several delegations to Bornu State to Katsina State, to Ogun State and to Oyo State. As a matter of fact,  you were in Ogun State when the Kagara incident happened, and you had to rush back home in order to attend to the challenge in Niger State.”

“We don’t want to come here on a cycle of lamentation.  That’s not our job.  Yes, we want to be compassionate. Yes, we want to be sympathetic. We want to feel the pain of our people because our first responsibility as governors as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution is the security and welfare of our people, but we don’t want to lament because the citizens want us to fix the problem. Our people just want us to find a permanent solution to this cycle of violence, insurgence, banditry,  criminality, and brigandage in our country.”

Fayemi called for proper coordination among the security outfits, adding that the synergy was required for optimal result in ending the security challenges bedevilling the country.

Indicating that governors might consider dialogue, he stated, “We also need to explore other avenues side by side with whatever the security institutions are doing if that means engaging in dialogue  We may not have a choice. We may have to do that, anything to help us to deal with this immediate crisis and then to begin to address on a much more longer time basis, the root causes of this social dislocation responsible for what we are witnessing, all around us.”

The NGF chairman commended the measures taken by  Bello which resulted in the release of the passengers that were abducted in the Niger State Transport Service bus on February 14.

Responding, the Niger State governor said the solidarity visit of his colleagues was a morale booster to him and the people of the state.

He added that the time had come for the Federal Government to do the needful in addressing the security challenges bedevilling the country.

According to him,  state governors have limited powers especially when it comes to the control of the security apparatus in the country.

Bello stated, “Time has come for the federal authorities to key in and work with state governments so that we are able to provide adequate intelligence and find a lasting solution to this menace.

“We are state governors, but we all have our limitations when it comes to control of operations.  We do not fully control the Army, Air Force or even the police.”

Bello said that he was fully in support of adopting kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to curb the banditry.

We should only hold talks with repentant bandits – Niger gov

“I agree we should hold dialogue, as bad as it seems.  There is the need to look at the root causes and see how we can address them, but then, make no mistake, for those who have chosen the path of terrorism and do not show any sign of repentance, then the needful must be done.”

The governor said the state government was committed to ensuring that it secured the release of the GSC, Kagara abductees.

Other governors that were part of the delegation were  Simon Lalong (Plateau),  Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq ( Kwara), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa) and  Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto).

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