Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara on Sunday appealed to northern leaders to unite and end the incessant banditry and kidnapping ravaging the region.
Matawalle made call in a presentation: “Fight against banditry in North West, Nigeria; challenges and solutions”, at the annual lecture by Arewa Media Writers Association in Kaduna.
Matawalle, represented by his Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, attributed the lingering security challenges confronting the region to lack of unity among the leaders that allowed criminals turn the region into a killing field.
He noted that banditry ravaging the north western states, if not urgently tackled, would consume the entire northern region and the country at large.
“Unless we all wake up to the situation, the war against banditry in the North West will remain a challenge that has the potential to swallow the region and the country at large. We need to get to the roots of the situation and stop politicising it,” he said.
The governor urged the northern leaders to urgently set aside their differences and proffer lasting solutions to the banditry and kidnapping before the situation got out of hand.
He, however, averred that the activities of the bandits in the region was orchestrated by age-long injustice and leadership failure.
Matawalle said that some politicians were taking advantage of the situation to achieve political goals.
“Unless we all wake up to the situation, the war against banditry in the north west will remain a significant security challenge that has the potential to swallow the region and the country.
“The destruction that banditry is wreaking on the region’s people and economy is unfathomable,” he said.
Matawalle clarified that the much talked about mining in Zamfara was not responsible for banditry as many were made to believe.
He said bandit activities in Shinkafi and Zurmi local governments remained the hotbed even when there are no mining activities in those areas.
“When I took over office on May 29th, 2019, Zamfara State had already been mired in a serious security crisis for over a decade, marked by banditry, livestock rustling, kidnapping and a host of other crimes.
“On almost daily basis, the state was in the news for bloodletting, fire, pillage and significant displacement of people, particularly those living in rural areas.
“The historical, economic, social and cultural ties between the dominant communities of Fulani and Hausa were ruptured; farming activities across the state were halted, and commercial activities were crippled.
“With poverty on the increase and food security seriously affected by the crisis, the state was on the verge of a catastrophic social eruption capable of destabilising our communities and the northwest subregion.
“Rural banditry in Zamfara and other parts of the North, in my opinion, is a result of the progressive degradation of our moral standards and a culture of greed fed by an unfettered need for material goods.
“It is evident, therefore, that we, the leaders, are responsible for the plight of the North. The North lacks responsible leadership to steer it through our time’s uncharted waters.
“Reluctance by the affected states to embrace peace dialogue, which would have deprived the recalcitrant bandits currently tormenting our people of safe corridors in the region.
“Our ruling elite has no vision for the region beyond gaining political power. We have all seen how the elites in the Southeast and Southwest respond in unison to all matters concerning their regions’ development.
“We have seen how they have a defined agenda and are relentless in their pursuit of regional development.
“The reluctance by the affected states to embrace peace dialogue, lack of support from a section of politicians that wish to take advantage of the situation to achieve political ends are top challenges slowing down the peace efforts in the region,” he lamented.
He, therefore, appealed to leaders of the region to wake up from their lethargy and unite in combating this grave challenge of banditry, stressing that “we need to get to the roots of the situation, stop politicising it and act decisively”.
Earlier, the National Secretary of the association, Mr Haider Hashim, said Arewa Media Writers was established for public enlightenment on peaceful coexistence, unity and understanding among Nigerians.
“It is an amalgamated group of different members of teeming youths who are mainly users of social media, seasoned journalists and public affairs analysts with a vast interest in politics, national development and cohesion from the Northern region,” he said. (NAN)