A meeting of the Governors of the 19 Northern States, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Director General of the Department of State Service, Yusuf Bichi, as well as the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, held in Kaduna on Thursday.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III led traditional rulers from all parts of the north to the meeting which held at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House.
Other attendees at the high powered meeting were northern lawmakers from both chambers of the National Assembly represented by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ahmad Idris Wase, who stood in for the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, leaderships of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders’ Forum among others.
Governors of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Yobe, Plateau, Sokoto and Kebbi States were present while others were represented by their deputies.
The essence of the meeting was to discuss the troubling security challenges occasioned by banditry and other related crimes as well as the almajirinci menace in the northern states.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd), through his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, at the meeting, ruled out the possibility of negotiating with bandits, saying that his administration would continue to deal decisively with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers who had made life hellish for Nigerians.
Buhari also asked Nigerians to stop the ethnic profiling of criminals, adding that criminals should be treated as criminals.
He noted that his administration would continue to deal decisively with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country.
Buhari added that he had tasked the new service chiefs to device new strategies that would end the ugly situation where the lives of Nigerians were being threatened by hoodlums and criminals.
He said, “This meeting is coming at a time when the nation is making steady progress in addressing the many challenges impeding development and progress.
“We are providing critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports among which are critical to economic prosperity of our people as well as opening up economic opportunities for our citizens to pursue legitimate aspirations that grow the economy.
“At the same time, we are confronting the various dimensions of security challenges that continue to slow down the emancipation of our people from poverty and economic deprivation.
“The Government shall continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals constitute innocent threat citizens across the country.
“Criminals are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly without resorting to ethnic profiling.
“I have already tasked the new Service Chiefs to devise new strategies that will end this ugly situation where the lives of our people continue to be threatened by hoodlums and criminals.
“I expect that at this meeting, your Forum will also discuss and devise ways of building stronger collaboration with the security architecture and the people in defeating criminality across the region and the nation at last.
“It is pertinent to note that the increased realization of our security, democracy and development indices are inextricably linked. Democracy and the rule of law promote stability and in turn, reinforces the power to assert freedom and economic progress of our people.
“This thread of interconnection needs the support of the Northern State Governors Forum and the entire citizenry of the country as any amount of positive sacrifice would be beneficial in bringing about National development and security out nation.”
In his opening remarks, the Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the NGF, Simon Lalong told his colleagues that statistics had shown that the region had along way to go in terms of “education, healthcare delivery, infrastructural development, food security, industrialization and human capital development among others.”
He also lamented that the issue of insecurity has gravely affected the economy and food security jeopardized.
“That is why we have remained resolute in supporting and advising the Federal Government, collaborating with relevant security agencies and also using opportunities at our disposal to work for a more secured nation,” he added.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmad Wase on behalf of northern National Assembly lawmakers, said the National Assembly would collaborate with the North to see to the problem bedevilling the region and by extension the country.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State while addressing the gathering, stressed the need for peace for the development of the region and the country.
El-Rufai said, “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.
“We must discharge our duty as leaders to them by collaborating across all divides to solve the challenges that confront our region and Nigeria.”
On his part, the Sultan of Sokoto, speaking on behalf of Northern Traditional Council, urged northerners to be patient with the regional governors.
Abubakar noted that the governors were trying to rebuild what had been destroyed in the north over a decade ago.
He also said the traditional council in the region would continue to defend the action of the governors.
The Sultan decried the almajirinci menace in the North which he claimed was poverty-driven.