Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, expressed concerns that food production was in jeopardy as a result of the activities of bandits in the northwestern part of the country.
He stated thus in an interview with State House Correspondents Friday, when he paid the new Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, a private visit.
He also met separately with Minister of Defense and the Service Chiefs over the activities of bandits in the northwest in general and Kaduna State in particular.
According to El-Rufai, the bandits have ravaged the region in the same manner the Boko Haram terrorism did, applauded the armed forces operations aimed at halting the activities of the criminals.
The governor expressed fears that the bandits might migrate to Kaduna State, especially as they had started feeling the heat turned on them in Sokoto and Zamfara states by the military.
He charged the military to reinforce its operational in the state as failure to deal with banditry now would take a huge toll on the farming season. He said he has been assured by the Chief of Air Staff that every necessary step would be taken to secure the state for farmers.
“The Sokoto story only hit the headlines just a few days ago, but in Zamfara, in Kaduna, in Niger, in Katsina, this banditry has become a northwestern scourge and we have been battling it with the support of the military; we are very grateful to the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Army and in our own particular case, even the Navy has been holding fort Southern Kaduna.
“We’ve been dealing with this issue and our concern now is with the operations in Sokoto and Zamfara. Many of the bandits will move to Kaduna, this is part of the reasons I’m here, I’ll let be meeting with the Minister of Defense and the Service Chiefs to try to get more military activities, some operations to be strengthened.
“I must say that they’ve been doing very well, they’ve supported us, but this banditry is a big problem. It’s going to affect agriculture unless it is dealt with and I believe that it will be dealt with. The Chief of Air Staff has assured me that whatever that will need to be done to wipe out the bandits, to enable our farmers to go to farm as the rains advance, will be done. We are confident that things will get better.
“It’s most unfortunate that we’ve had to deal with it in the northwest in the same way that Boko Haram ravaged the northeast, these bandits are also becoming a serious problem in the northwest, but the problem is being addressed”, he said.
Speaking on the effect of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on governance, El-Rufai said this was the most difficult time to be on the saddle as a leader, calling on all Nigerians to work with President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the governors, so that the country could be driven safely out of the dangers of the health crisis.
According to him, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had overshadowed the activities of governance who much so that those elected into office a year ago could hardly notice that it had already been a year since the last elections.
“Because of the global situation with this pandemic, many of us have even forgotten that we’ve even spent one year in the office. Many of us are celebrating it in a very low-keyed manner and I think what I will ask everyone in Kaduna State and indeed Nigeria, to do is to continue to pray for our leaders. To do better, to be righteous because when you have righteous leaders, you’ll have a righteous nation.
“We are lucky to have a great, decent and honest man as president and we should continue to pray for him and all the governors to me more like him so that the country can make progress.
“We are one year in office, we have three more years to go and I do hope that collectively, all of us that were elected and given this leadership responsibility will discharge this responsibility to the satisfaction of our people, we’ll do our best.
“Speaking for Kaduna State, my team and I are working very hard not to let our people down, we are very proud of the quality of the people in our team, they have done very well. Even when I was isolated for 26 days, the business of government in Kaduna State did not stop, things have continued. I’m very proud of our deputy governor and the work that she has done with our team.
“I think it’s the same all over the country, we are all dealing with very difficult situation, the economy is going to go into depression, there’s nothing we can do about that, revenues have collapsed, yet you still have to invest in more public health facilities, you have to invest in treatment, you have to invest in security and so on.
“So it’s a very difficult time to be in a leadership position and that is why the people and the leaders must all work together and for the almighty God to end this pandemic. It is a major problem, but working together, we are a resilient nation and I’m sure we’ll overcome it”, he said.