Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has attributed the current state of insecurity in the North to the failure of leadership at the three ties of government to address and arrest poverty and underdevelopment.
Speaking to newsmen on the outcome of the Forum ’s meeting in Zaria at the weekend, Chairman Professor Ango Abdullahi said Nigeria has all the resources and ideas but lacks the political will to tackle the problem.
“There is serious irresponsibility of governance in the country, especially in the North, the leadership are not doing enough to meet the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment,” he said.
Abdullahi added that a recent report by an international organization revealed that there are more than 13.5 million out-of-school children in the country, of which 90 percent are from the North.
“The children will be adult in the next ten years,” he explained. “No education, no vocational training, what do you expect then? Insecurity situation.”
Ango said that the Forum had last year passed a vote of no confidence on elected political leaders from the North, starting with President Muhammadu Buhari, state governors and legislators, over the issue of poverty, and underdevelopment.
Lamenting that instead of development, northern states are presently living with the threat of Boko Haram terror, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, marouding youth gangs, and cattle herder-farmers conflicts.
“It has become imperative for the Forum to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to respond to the threats faced by northern Nigerians following incessant killings in the some states,” Abdullahi stated.
He said the Forum had previously engaged former President Goodluck Jonathan on the need to address the Boko Haram threat, and had proffered solutions to the problems back in 2012, stating its effort have been vitiated due to lack of political will and pervasive corruption.
According to him, NEF can not remain silent watching criminal activities and bloodletting escalating across the country, especially in northern Nigeria.
“Agriculture, which is our pride and major employer of labour and contributor to Gross Domestic Product, has been ruined as rural dwellers are living in perpetual fear of terrorists or bandits attacks, while highways become death traps to travelers.”
The Forum said it wondered why the problem continues to escalate while the Buhari administration has the capacity to end the perennial killings of innocent Nigerians.
“Should the Nigerians people continue to run and hide from criminals under an administration that enjoyed and received support especially from northern Nigerians?,” it asked.
Ango said NEF strongly believes that President Buhari has the capacity to tackle the country’s many security crises, but may not have political will to do so.
“Why are the problems becoming difficult to solve, is it because of the challenges of under-funding the police and security apparatus, or is it the challenge of problem analysis or policy failure?,” he asked.
Abdullahi described the recent disclosures by the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at the 2019 budget defence before National Assembly, as a testament of the weakness of the Buhari administration in handling the nation’s security challenges.
“The new IG revealed that Government has approved N324 billion to the Nigeria Police Force in 2018 budget, but only N25 billion was released, representing less than 10% of the total amount approved.”
He said the new Inspector-General had disclosed that the entire strength of Nigerian police has not exceed 300,000 in a country of almost 200 million.
The Forum said Nigerians, having just emerged from a harrowing set of elections, expect their political leaders to be more strategic in the way national challenges are addressed.
“The Forum, therefore, demands that President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrate a higher level of concern and sensitivity to the plight of traumatized citizens, especially of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Plateu and Taraba states.
“We also demand decisive, comprehensive and fundamental government actions against poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity affecting the North, as well as showing leadership and compassion which are reciprocal expectation of the Nigerian people,” The Forum’s chairman said.