BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA— GOVERNORS of the 19 Northern states Wdnesday cried out that the economy of the region was collapsing following the spate of insecurity, just as they stressed that the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR from the zone was now too poor.
The governors have also warned that the North would continue to witness disintegration following incessant ethnic and religious differences if issues relating to religious extremism, intolerance and mutual respect were not tackled by the leaders and people of the region.
Also, as part of moves to tackle the incessant killings and wanton destruction of property occasioned by activities of members of the Boko Haram sect, the governors under the aegis, Northern States Governors Forum, NSGF, yesterday inaugurated a committee on reconciliation, healing and security.
Inaugurating the 40-member committee made up of traditional rulers, retired military officers, academics, businessmen and former public officers, Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, stressed that the recurring insecurity challenges in the North and around the country posed serious threat to national stability, unity and development.
He, however, called on members of the committee to look at reports and other white papers such as; reports of the Wammako-led Northern Governors’ Committee on security; report of Northern States Attorneys-General; Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, report on post-election violence probe; Galtimari report on security challenges in North Eastern Nigeria; and General Abdusalami Abubakar and Maitama Sule report, among others to guide them in their work.
Inaugurate 40-man committee
The 40-man committee which is headed by Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim with Nde Joshua Dimlong (Ngolong Ngas) as Deputy and Iliya Ithuve and Hajiya Saudatu Mahdi as Secretary and Deputy Secretary respectively, is particularly charged to ensure that peace and development in the North was not compromised.
Aliyu who noted that “poverty, unemployment, youth restiveness and violence were manifestations of the rejection of the core values of honesty, equity, fairness and justice in the Nigerian society”, told members of the committee to synthesise every report, white paper, communiqué of conferences or commissions of enquiry into the insecurity situation in the nation, particularly in the northern states, with a view to giving them actionable and practicable proposals that would help tackle issues at the family, ward, local government, state levels and National levels.
Committee on PIB
Also Wednesday, the NSGF set up a committee to look at the draft Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, currently at the National Assembly and to ascertain how it affects the northern states.
The committee was also given 90 days to submit its report to the NSGF .
The terms of reference given to the committee include; to liaise with stakeholders in Northern States, particularly the affected states, and get to the root of the security challenges and proffer solutions; dialogue with any identified groups with a view to negotiating the way out of the menace; liaise with the Federal Government and deliberate on the best approach to resolving the security challenges.
Others were that members of the committee should work out modalities for reconciling warring parties/communities in the North; organize meetings and have interactive sessions with stakeholders across the states; engage experts from the society for peace studies and practice, SPSP, West African Network on Peace building, WANEP, and other relevant organizations for further discussion and strategic inputs; recommend mechanisms for peace building and entrenchment of enduring democratic values at the ward, local government and state level; and design mechanisms to address youth restiveness and unemployment in the region.
According to the Forum Chairman, “the decision to constitute this high powered committee of eminent Nigerians of Northern states was borne out of the deep concern of the forum over recurring incidents of violence and wanton destruction of lives and property, which have almost crippled the economy of the northern states and paralyzed socio-political activities to the detriment of our development and national pride.
“The inauguration of this committee is consistent with the commitment of the Forum to the general welfare of the people, who have given us their mandate to serve them. Undoubtedly, the primary and fundamental responsibility of leaders is the security and welfare of the people which to us in the forum is sacrosanct. Hence, our focus has remained the promotion of the peace, unity and progress of all the Northern States within the wider national interest of Nigeria.
“We therefore expect this committee to synthesise every previous report, white papers, communiqué of conferences or commissions of enquiry into the insecurity situation in our nation, particularly in the Northern states, with a view to giving us actionable proposals for tackling the issues at the family, ward, local government, state and national levels.”
On the PIB, he said, “we have set up a committee to look at the draft PIB to know how it will affect the northern states.”
Other members of the committee are Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, Prof. Tijjani el-Miskin, AIG Hamisu Ali Jos (rtd), HRH Ibrahim Sulu Gambari and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, AVM Mukhtar Mohammed, Gen Martin Luther Agwai, HRH Nde Joshua Y. Dimlong, Sheikh Ahmad Lemu and Mrs Aisha Oyebode, among others.
Governors present at the meeting were those of Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa and Kaduna as well as well as Deputy governors of Benue and Adamawa.