From Uche Usim, Abuja
To protect Nigerians, especially students who have come under sustained attacks by terrorists, the Kaduna State Governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, has urged the Nigeria Air Force to relentlessly bomb the forest hideouts of bandits.
The governor gave the charge on Tuesday in Abuja at at the Financing of Safe Schools Conference organised by the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
According to the Kaduna governor, ‘nobody living in the forest is innocent and we must kill them all!’
‘The Chief of Air Staff has been doing well and this has led to a reduction in the activities of bandits in recent times,’ he added.
He advocated for massive investment in ICT like drones to prosecute the war against terror and banditry.
Governor Governor El-Rufai reiterated that banditry can be eliminated if people stop succumbing to the pressure of paying ransom to criminals.
‘People ask what if my child was kidnapped, and I say that I won’t pay; it is a personal decision, which we do not all support.
‘So, the only way to stop banditry is to kill them all,’ he said.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, speaking at the event, described financing as a major impediment to the Safe School Programme, adding that the government was working towards addressing the funding challenge.
‘Financing is critical to the successful implementation of any proposed interventions that come out of today’s dialogue. We in Government recognize that to make the critical investments necessary to sustainability secure our schools and ensure a holistic and community-centered approach to Safe Schools programmes, we must address the longstanding challenge of domestic revenue mobilization. “This process is already ongoing through the implementation of fiscal reforms, including Finance Acts 2019 and 2020,’ she assured.
The minister further fingered the COVID-19 pandemic and the concomitant economic crisis as the reasons halting the rapid implementation of the Safe School Programme.
‘While we have been proactive in our response to the pandemic, and have established and are implementing the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) and other interventions (including the scaling up of social safety net programmes, and increased investments in health and education), the pandemic has deepened insecurity across the country and resulted in an alarming spate of school attacks and mass kidnappings. These actions are a direct attack on our children’s fundamental human rights to “an education without fear of violence or attack,” as described in the Safe Schools Declaration, to which Nigeria is a signatory. In fact, we were amongst the first 37 United Nations Member States to “endorse” the Declaration.
‘Today’s dialogue recognizes the need for decisive action and for a coordinated approach to the financing and implementation of an integrated Safe Schools programme across the country, which is government-led and is tailored to the current realities on ground. Our citizens are looking to us to lead the way, and we must heed the call to action, and we must all work together to realize the promise of Safe School environments,’ she added.
In 2014, following the abduction of over 200 girls by Boko Haram from a secondary school in Chibok, the Nigerian government alongside the then United National Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr Gordon Brown, and several development partners and private sector stakeholders launched the Safe Schools Initiative. The SSI was initially implemented in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States.
Also speaking at the event, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, admonished the media to be circumspect in reporting the security matters so as to not overheat the polity, saying that drumming the gongs of war would not take Nigeria anywhere good.
According to him, the military would continue to do its best to secure the country, emphasising that there currently exists a cross-pollination of intelligence among the military and other sister security agencies.
‘Drumming gongs of war won’t take Nigeria anywhere. The military is doing its best within the resources available,’ he said.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr Asue Ighodalo, assured the gathering that the private sector will keep supporting the government in various areas.
He advised the government to create an enabling environment for the private sector and investors to come in.
‘Government needs to improve the operating environment to attract investment into the country to create jobs and boost the economy.
‘The private sector has always supported various government initiatives and will continue to do so,’ he stated.