By Umar Yusuf
North East governors yesterday at a meeting raised alarm that kidnapping and banditry have made it difficult for people of the region to travel.
Acting under the aegis of North East Governors’ Forum, the governors also expressed concern over the sharp increase in rape in the zone.
Chairman of the Forum and governor of Borno State, Babagana Umaru Zulum, said at Government House venue of the meeting that governors of the zone have equally observed that the unending Boko Haram insurgency in the region posed a phenomenon that has a destructive effect on the socio-economic lives of the people of the entire North East sub region and other neighboring states.
Zulum said the twin evil of kidnapping and banditry was assuming a worrisome dimension in the North East, noting that inter-state travel had become virtually impossible for the people.
He said it was gratifying to acknowledge the indefatigable efforts of the security forces in containing the insurgency in the sub region, with the exception of a few belligerent remnants who were now confined to Sambisa forest and the Northern part of Borno State, around the Lake Chad area.
Zulum, who noted that the region was also battling with the problem of rape, said “we must find a way of protecting our women and girls from the intolerable and aggressive demeanour of rapists.”
He also lamented the daunting phenomenon of youth unemployment in the North East which, according to him, is increasingly becoming a serious cause of concern not only to the sub region but also the entire country as well.
Zulum said: “We discovered that the recent #ENDSARS protest was one of the direct consequences of youth unemployment which unfortunately degenerated into youth restiveness with its concomitant effects, particularly on governance.
“We must, therefore, find ways and means of creating opportunities for our youths to be gainfully employed or actively engaged in useful activities in order to ensure that they do not constitute a menace or pose danger to society.’’
He noted that education was the key to achieving these objectives and, therefore, enjoined every state in the North East to work towards ensuring that their education system was resuscitated and reinvigorated to meet up their socio-economic needs and developmental requirements.
On the economic front, Professor Babagana said: “We must renew our commitment to collectively harnessing the vast and diverse resources we are endowed with in order to build a prosperous and economically sustainable society for both the present and future generations.’’
Earlier in his welcome address, the host governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, called on the forum to ensure that the remaining Internally Displaced Persons, IDPS, in camps in the state were relocated to their states of origin.
Present at the meeting were the governors of Gombe, Bauchi, Borno and Adamawa, while Yobe and Taraba states were represented by their deputy governors.