From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor Atiku Bagudu has stressed the need for communities to do more to assist security agencies who he said are themselves having challenges, in tackling banditry and other security issues in the country.
He made this position know after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja to brief him on the the recent deadly bandit attacks in parts of Kebbi state.
Bagudu told State House Correspondents that the meeting centred on the recent boat mishap in the state and the security challenges.
According to him, communities must realize that security personnel are also human beings who require support especially by way of information.
Bagudu who also met separately with the President’s Chief of Staff (CoS), Professor Ibrahim Gambari, he stressed his efforts to forestall further attacks.
He said: “Yes, we we urge vigilance and support for security agencies. Security agencies are doing a great job but they are also human beings. They need a lot of support.
“They need a lot of community support for information. They need a lot of community support for understanding because sometimes, we are all in a hurry when we are facing challenges. But the security agencies also have modus operandi.
“Sometimes, they get risk reports in places that 500 people are coming to attack and maybe the local DPO (Divisional Police Officer) can only mobilise 20 people. Already, that confronts him with a challenge.
“So, they need truthful information. They need synergy with vigilante groups and community groups so that they can continue to respond more appropriately. And sometimes they need support with logistics.
“Communities hardly reflect on all the logistic needs of security agencies. The government will never be able to provide enough.
“Much is being done. But it will never be enough for communities. And I’m sure in all communities, there are people who can support police.”
On the meeting with the president, Bagudu said: “I met with Mr. President to brief him, among others, on some security issues related to my state, because about two weeks ago, there was a boat incident that claimed a number of lives.
“And Mr. President promptly issued a statement and sent condolence messages and support. And I appreciated him on behalf of the people of Kebbi State.
“Also, just last week, there was an unfortunate attack by bandits from neighbouring states that killed a number of people in Kebbi state. And I briefed Mr President on the incident and on my visit there and to also appreciate him for promptly directing security agencies to investigate and support us more in dealing with such situation.”
The Kebbi governor spoke on the impact of high exchange rate on availability of fertilizers for farmers.
He said the meeting with Gambari centered on food security, saying: “We had a meeting in the Chief of Staff office on an issue related to food security because the Office of the Chief staff of Chief is the Secretariat for the National Food Security Council. And we will continue the meeting next week.”
Speaking on the availability of farming inputs in view of the arrival of raining season, he regretted that exchange rate has complicated the federal government’s fertilizer initiative but noted that President Buhari has directed that a way be found to make fertilizer available.
He said: “Well, the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has been complicated by the changes in exchange rate. When it was started about four years ago, the official exchange rate was N305 to $1. And now, the official exchange rate is about N400, which is close to 25% increase.
“But the President has directed that the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative Chairman and the Office of the Vice President and the Ministry of Agriculture should examine how fertiliser can still be made available close to the N5,000 selling price as possible. It may not be N5,000 but to as close as possible, even if that involves subsidizing.”
Bagudu however assured that there is no risk of food scarcity as a lot has been achieved in the agricultural sector in the last few years in terms of yields per hectare.
According to him: “I think we are doing well. We are doing well in the sense that in the last few years, a lot of investment had been made into agriculture. And even for pre-existing producers, and farmers, a lot of knowledge has been imputed into agriculture such that yields per hectare have gone up.
“So, even while we still have setback in some places, with security affecting the ability of people to go to farms, the yield gain has more than compensated for those challenges.
“And because prices have been strong for those in the agricultural sector, motivation to invest and even to buy inputs at slightly higher prices than hitherto is now accepted by those in the sector.”