Mohammed Munirat Nasir, Gusau
The ongoing dialogue and reconciliation initiative of Zamfara State government with bandits is yielding positive results. Attacks by bandits, kidnappings and cattle rustling have reduced significantly, the state government has said.
And as a result of the current peaceful atmosphere, thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had earlier deserted their villages and towns to other places within and outside the state due to the criminal activities in the state in the last few years have begun to move back to their homes.
Most towns and villages in Zamfara State which had earlier become ghost towns as a result of the nefarious activities of bandits who tormented the state for several years are now bouncing back to full life.
Some of the villages and towns whose residents have returned include Lilo, Fura Girke, Kowha, Kundumau,Yargeba and Bundugel. The communities were sacked by the bandits and cattle rustlers at different times.
The majority of people in places like Anka, Maru, Tsafe, Shinkafi, Maradun, Zurmi, Birnin Magaji local government areas have also returned home.
Executive Secretary, Zamfara State Emergency Agency (ZEMA), Sanusi Muhammad Kotorkoshi said over 25,000 of the 37,000 IDPs in bothformal and informal camps in the state have returned to their homes.
Kotorkoshi added that plans are also on the way for more of the IDPs to go back to their homes, as the state government is set to make life more meaningful in all affected communities through the provision of palliative measures.
He added that the IDPs, who are outside Zamfara in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and te neighbouring Niger Republic would be brought back, noting that the state now enjoys peace and security.
“Most IDPs in host communities will also want to go back to their homes rather than to continue to stay with relatives in the host communities,” he said.
The state governor, Bello Mohammed Matawale, it was gathered, has sought federal government special intervention to resettle the IDPs back to their homes and also to make them comfortable in their homes.
The governor made the special request during a meeting with the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mustapha Maihaja in Abuja.
The governor said the special intervention from the federal government to the IDPs would sustain the current peace and make life more comfortable for the IDPs. He said the displaced persons deserved better treatment following the trauma they have passed through.
Matawale said his administration was committed to ensuring that all IDPs in the state and outside were returned to their homes and empowered to continue to be self-reliant and contribute meaningfully to the development of the state.
“The special intervention from the federal government to resettle the displaced communities can be in form of provision of agricultural inputs, food items, medicaments, shelters and animal feeds, which Zamfara State government alone cannot shoulder,” he said.
Responding, Maihaja assured the governor of the agency’s readiness to provide special intervention to the state in order to alleviate the sufferings of the affected IDPs and other victims.
He added that recently, the agency delivered 50 trucks of fertilizer, 2,112 sacks of 20 kgMaize, 2,312 bags of 5kg Millet, 2,832 bags of 5kg Guinea Corn, 3,072 goats and large number of herbicide and seedlings which are to be distributed in the disaster affected communities in the state.
The returning IDPs described the dialogue as the best thing to have happened in the state, explaining that some of them have stayed in those places outside their homes for up to seven or more months.
Sani Saidu from Gusami village, Birnin Magaji Local Government Area, said the dialogue to him is a welcome development. He said he was elated returning to his ancestral home after several months as a displaced person in Gusau town.
“Most of us, men and women, despite having no form of physical disability, we were outside our homes in towns like Gusau working as fingernail cutters (yan yanka farche), load carrier (yan dako) or alms beggars (almajirai) to survive and avoid the temptation of joining bad gangs,” he lamented.
He commended Governor Matawale for adopting the dialogue option which he said had brought back peace and sanity to the state.
Another IDP who has returned to his village in Maradun Local Government area, Malam Shehu Dogo is full of praises for the governor for bringing an end to activities of bandits in the state.
“I am happy, but it’s not only me. All of us were affected by the activities of the bandits and forced us out of our homes to other places. We are now back to start life again, so we are praying to Allah to continue to guide and give the governor more wisdom to bring development to our state,” he said.