Journalism in the service of society

Talking to bandits worth exploring to curb insecurity – Govs’ Forum

FROM all indications, the state governors of the federation, under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, may have decided to explore Sheikh Gumi’s advice to jettison the use of “brute force” and embrace persuasion to address the menace of banditry.

Sheikh Gumi had given the advice last week after visiting some of the bandits in their strongholds in the forests in parts of the north.

Though some of the governors in the North West have indicated interest to heed Gumi’s advice and embrace dialogue with the bandits, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna had vowed not to enter into peace talks with bandits, adding that any bandit caught in his state would be killed.

But following the reaction of the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), and governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode yesterday, the governors collective may have  back-pedalled on its initial stand against dialoguing with bandits.

Fayemi, yesterday, said there was need to explore other avenues side by side with what security agencies are doing, including the option of dialogue.

Governor Fayemi spoke yesterday in Minna, the Niger State capital, when he led some governors, on behalf of the forum, to commiserate with their Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani-Bello, on the recent abduction of students of Government Science College Kagara and passengers of the state transport service.

The NGF chairman said, “We also need to explore other avenues side-by-side, together with what 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.

“We will begin to address much more on a longer term basis, the root causes of this social dislocation responsible for what we are witnessing all around us.

“The past few weeks have been disconcerting, we all feel your pain and the anxiety of the good people of Niger State, this is not something that is uncommon, what happens here is not unique to you.”

He, however, said the NGF delegation was not in Minna “on the cycle of lamentation” but to feel what the people of the state were feeling.

“Our people just want us to find a permanent solution to this cycle of violence, banditry, insurgency, of criminality and brigandage in our country,” he declared.

Fayemi continued: “Our people out there don’t have the privileged information you have shared with us, they don’t know the extent you are going just to ensure that peace reign in this land and they need not know. All they want is to be able to sleep in their various homes with their two eyes closed and that is the duty we owe them and that is what you have being doing which led to the release of the passengers caught up in the last kidnapping and the ongoing negotiation that you and your team are still having on our students from Government Science College Kagara.”

The Ekiti state governor said instead of engaging in blame-game, either as leaders or citizens, all hands must be on deck to end all forms of security challenge in the country.

“Our security institutions need to come together, they need to be better coordinated, better sharing of intelligence and a concerted arrangement and synergy that will enable us to defeat this menace.

“We can only defeat terrorism collectively and not in isolation. What we are witnessing is terrorism, we may call it banditry, kidnapping, these are remnant of the actors in Northeast that have found themselves in other parts of the country,” he added.

Responding, Governor Sani-Bello said state governors have no powers to tackle the menace of kidnapping and banditry ravaging the country, adding that they have no control of the Army, Navy, Air Force and even the Police in combating the challenges

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