By Ben Ngwakwe Gombe
Chairman of the North-East Governors Forum (NEGF) and governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, says since the formation of the forum, its members have painstakingly discussed issues of common interest which led to the decimation of Boko Haram and other criminally- minded people through shared intelligence.
Zulum observed that the non-kinetic approach initiated and adopted by the Forum with support of the Federal Government to address the menace of Boko Haram insurgency has come a long way to opening up a corridor for many members of the sect to lay down their arms.
Speaking at the opening of the 7th North East Governors Forum in Gombe at the weekend, he said it is a matter of necessity for governors of the sub-region to maintain a strong and unwavering position towards addressing the menace of kidnapping that is fast becoming a new normal across the country.
Zulum used the occasion to pay tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment and members of the armed forces for their relentless efforts towards ending insurgency in the North-East and other crimes and criminalities across the country.
Speaking earlier, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State observed that the challenges that necessitated NEGF formation still persist, calling for sustained synergy to tackle the issues.
Yahaya listed some of the issues to include “Boko Haram insurgency and the resultant humanitarian crisis; evolving security threats posed by criminal activities like banditry and kidnapping; climate change disasters especially the recent floods and their debilitating effects on the livelihoods of our people; staggering infrastructure deficit as well as the sorry state of human capital development in our subregion. Other contemporary issues of common concern also make this meeting particularly important”.
He observed that, over the past two years, the Forum had developed the understanding, conviction, steadfastness, and cooperation needed to address the common problems undermining the growth and development of the subregion.
The governor described the formation of the NEGF as a tremendous success, saying for the first time in the history of the zone, governors of the sub-region were able to forge a common front for the overall benefit of the people irrespective of ethnic, religious or political considerations.
“To borrow from Nigeria’s first national anthem: ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’ Our strength lies in the sheer determination of each and everyone of us to set aside primordial differences in order to pursue a common vision aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of our people”, Yahaya added.