By Luka Binniyat
The 19 Northern states’ governors and traditional leaders from the area, yesterday, regretted the deteriorating security situation in the zone, vowing to find a common solution to the problem.
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who is the Governor of Borno State, said the region had been blighted by crimes and insecurity.
He said that the region must find solutions to its social, economic and political challenges, to enable it attain greatness.
Shettima made the remark at the opening of the joint meeting of the Forum with members of the Northern States Traditional Council in Kaduna.
Shettima described the joint meeting as historic, saying it was meant to tap from the experience of the traditional chiefs to develop workable solutions to major issues confronting the region.
According to him, “our core challenges in the North today revolve around intolerance, absence of peaceful coexistence, poverty, illiteracy and lack of unity,” expressing confidence that the meeting “is more than able to provide solutions to our problems.
“As governors, we are more determined than ever, to sincerely walk the talks generated from this important meeting.”
Shettima noted that the region had become “a poor, pathetic shadow of its former self” in spite of its vast population, land mass, huge solid minerals resources, a growing mining industry, rich arable lands and a blossoming agro-industrial economy.
“Nigeria’s wealthiest region by GDP and the region with the brightest prospects for accelerated economic growth; in short, arguably Nigeria’s most thriving region, has literally conspired against itself to be reduced to the laughing stock of the world.
“Northern Nigeria today is blighted by a deadly, albeit retreating, insurgency, rural armed banditry, cattle rustling, ethnic and religious conflicts, underlying causes of which are poverty, illiteracy, social ex-clusivity and severely limited economic opportunities.”
The Chairman stressed that the forum was also making efforts to strengthen access to education, revamp existing laws and set the region on the path of growth and development.
The governor said that the various mechanisms set by the forum would be vigorously pursued to ensure the revamping of textile industries and other key areas of growth.
Shettima assured that decisions taken at the meeting would be implemented to the fullest across the 19 states.
In his remarks, Dr. Sa’ad Abubakar, the Chairman of Northern States Traditional Council, and also the Sultan of Sokoto, said discussions at the meeting must be “robust, blunt and honest” in order to arrive at workable solutions to the security problems in the region.
He said that the traditional rulers were sad over the threats to security in the region by kidnappers, cattle rustlers, IDPs problems, farmers/herders clashes including current crisis in Southern Kaduna.
He said: “We are more worried with the use of places of religious worship to preach hatred, violence and other issues that tend to divide us rather than strengthen our unity as a people created by one God.”
The Sultan said perpetrators of violence must be punished to end the impunity with which crimes were committed in the region.