By Yusuf Adua
Yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari forewarned Nigerians against ethnic profiling in the battle against insecurity in the country, pledging to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminals threatening national security.
The president, who spoke via an address delivered on his behalf by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at a meeting of Northern governors and traditional rulers in Kaduna, demanded that the service chiefs devise new methods of protecting lives and property.
He did express his worry that insecurity is slowing down the country’s efforts to eradicate poverty.
The security crisis is also an eminent predicament to the Sultan of Sokoto and the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III who yesterday kicked against the ethnic profiling of Fulani, saying that not all Fulani herdsmen are bandits.
“Criminals are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly as such, without resorting to ethnic profiling,” the president said, furthering that he has tasked the service chiefs to engineer new strategies for battling the security crisis.
The president saw the meeting as a platform for deep reflection and dialogue on pertinent issues affecting not only the North but Nigeria.
“These include unity, peaceful coexistence, security, and other parameters of development,” said the president.
He lauded the spirited efforts of the NSGF towards national development, especially during the current challenging period of existential threats to Nigeria’s corporate existence.
He called for frank and succinct deliberations on the fundamental issues affecting the country’s corporate existence and asked them to proffer working solutions.
To the president, the meeting came at a time when the nation is making steady progress in addressing the challenges impeding its development.
He felt that the federal government is providing critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports which are critical to the economic prosperity of the people as well as economic opportunities for the citizens to pursue legitimate aspirations that grow the economy bountifully.
“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 who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country.
“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 large,” President Buhari thought.
He added that the country’s security and democracy indices are inextricably linked.
In his view, democracy and rule of law are trackers of stability, which reinforces the power to assert freedom and economic progress of the people.
He assured the NSGF of support and collaboration in implementing some of the resolutions of the meeting that may require the participation of the federal government.
Buhari also called for synergy between the NSGF and other forums in the other regions for the collective good of Nigeria.
He said, “You should endeavour to compare notes and peer-review one another to exchange ideas and adopt best practices for the good of the people you govern.”
He commended the NSGF for exterminating the recent tension arising from clashes between herders and farmers, which resulted in the loss of lives and property.
According to him, the efforts of the forum in engaging all parties and supporting the efforts of the federal government helped to restore relative normalcy.
The president who wants them to sustain that tempo drew the attention of the governors to some of the key issues bothering the Northern region and the country that require collective efforts to resolve.
Population growth, agriculture value chain that is anchored on diversification and improved yields, as well as the revival of industries and other economic opportunities for job creation, are those issues according to Mr. President.
Earlier, in his opening address, Chairman of the NSGF and Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, called on participants to be open, frank, and honest in discussing all the matters that have held the North down as a region.
“We must break down such limitations and move our region, people, and ultimately our nation to the next level,” he charged.
Gov. Lalong lamented the security situation in the North, saying that the NSGF shall continue to engage other stakeholders as it seeks solutions to the cases of insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, and other criminal activities.
“At all times, we must identify, isolate and punish crime no matter who commits it rather than resorting to labelling and generalisation that shields the criminals and generates tension for the innocent,” he advocated.
“On the issue of herder-farmer clashes, which has in recent weeks generated serious concerns because of the harsh rhetoric from various parts of the country, we remain firm that this is a matter that must be carefully addressed with an open mind and without sentiments”.
“While we agree that open grazing is no longer sustainable for obvious reasons, the forum has also keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) and seen it as a veritable option that will go a long way in ending these clashes through organised ranching.”
He, therefore, appealed to governors and Nigerians in other parts of the country to exercise caution in their utterances and actions so as not to provide the fuel for the exploitation of the national fault lines to the detriment of the nation.
“As for enhancing the economy of the North, we should be able to rise from this meeting with concrete steps to take on how best to create opportunities for our teeming youth population,” Lalong said.
In his remarks, the sultan, who chairs the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council, saw continuous dialogue as a veritable means of resolving the challenges facing the North.
He said traditional rulers would not cease to encourage, pray for, and partner with the governors.
“We are there to offer our various inputs. We must come out with possible solutions to these problems. We must continue to chat, never to give up, we must continue to discuss”, said the Sultan that they would never get tired of sitting down to talk about issues concerning Nigeria.
In attendance at the meeting were Governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu; and Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi were also in attendance.
Governors of Borno, Kogi, and Zamfara were ably represented by their deputies while the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, was also represented by Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Wase.
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