By Omeiza Ajayi
The Unity in Diversity Forum, a platform for youths from diverse political, ethno-religious and professional backgrounds has called for the deployment of “special elite forces” on all highways in the North as a way of stemming banditry and other criminal activities in the region.
The Forum which organises an annual Roundtable on varying issues of national interest made its position known in a communique issued yesterday in Abuja at the end of its 2020 roundtable with the theme, ‘Survive or Surrender: The Northern Nexus’.
Those who signed the communique were a presidential aide and member of the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress APC, Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed, Alice D. Asajie, Aisha Haruna, Myani Bukar, Aliyu Audu, Yunusa Ahmadu Yusuf and Abuh Andrew Abuh.
Participants at the roundtable noted that the major problem of the north are the northerners themselves and that it is only logical that the solution comes from the northerners.
“This is said on the background that the North gave over 70% of votes with 7.9 million and 6.6 million votes out of the 15 million votes coming from the North West alone, that the present administration had in 2015 and 2019 elections respectively and most security and economic chiefs are northerners yet it is having those challenges”, the forum noted.
According to the forum, the north has vast arable land which means agriculture drives her economy “so the nexus should be formed between provision of infrastructure and the economic value so that instead of giving waivers to business men, they are compelled to provide a social infrastructure that their businesses take advantage of”.
The forum equally recommended that; “The approach on education should be first prioritised on equality, improving girl-child education), availability/accessibility, then quality.
“There should be more inclusion of women in politics because their voices give national discussion an equilibrium.
“There should be a pursuit of constitutional role for the traditional rulers so as to solve our security and socioeconomic challenges, as they are more accessible to the grassroots. There should be a reform in the election of the local government level.
“Special elite force should be deployed to all the known roads and highways on 24-hour shift and clearing of bushes by at least one mile away from the highways”.
Participants lamented that endemic poverty in the north is caused by the discrimination and the disenfranchisement of women who form a large percentage of the population in the region.