Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Sokoto State, Yusuf Dingyadi who is also the Senior Special Adviser to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in this interview opens up on recent ammunitions recovered from some repentant bandits under an amnesty offer initiated by the governor. He also spoke on other issues.
Recently, some sophisticated weapons were recovered from repentant bandits as a result of the reconciliation and amnesty offer initiated by the state government. What is your take on the development?
Yes. The amnesty offer was initiated under the present administration of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. The recovery of these sophisticated arms is a laudable one, in view of the fact that a lot of banditry activities have been perpetrated in Sokoto State. Although one can denote that the issue of incessant attacks degenerated to Sokoto State from her neighboring states of Zamfara and Katsina where there have been a lot of banditry and cattle rustlers’ activities. Since then, we have been experiencing incessant banditry attacks especially in Rabbah, Isa, Sabin Birnin and perhaps Goronyo local government areas of the state. But,in view of his magnitude of love for the people of the state, the governor sat with security stakeholders in the state and sought for their advice in order to end the menace. Don’t forget that a lot of innocent lives and properties have been lost since these attacks. In the end, the governors paved way for a committee which was headed by the Deputy Governor, Manir Dan’Iya. It also has the Commissioner of Security Matters, Col. Garba Moyi retd, as member among others. This committee did its work diligently and searched for these bandits in their hideouts, talked to them and we thank God that today, we are all hailing the achievements recorded as a result of His Excellency, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s efforts.
Would you say it was a unique feat on the part of the Sokoto Government?
Of course, it was. In fact, no state in the whole of North West has achieved this feat, by asking armed bandits to willingly hand over their weapons to the State Government and also released all their captives. The breakdown of the ammunitions include 23 pieces of AK47 rifles with magazines, four MG with two MT magazines, two MT with four magazines and seven GPMG rifles. We also recovered 50 locally made rifles, two MFG with one magazine, three GP rifles with three magazines and others. We are talking of 102 different kinds of assorted ammunitions, including the infamous PMG. The narrative by some security experts indicated that most of these weapons are so disastrous if put into use by these bandits. But the state government has retrieved them all from these wrong hands. We are now experiencing relative peace in those areas that were known for bandit attacks.
Can you recall when this amnesty was initiated?
The activities of bandits did not start today, and if you can recall, it escalated from neighboring states to some of the local communities that have borders with them. Let us say since the current government led by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal came on board, he has been working round the clock to ensure peace in the state. Part of his (Governor Tambuwal’s) mission is to ensure lasting peace.
Now that the repentant bandits have surrendered their weapons in exchange for peace, what is the state government given them in return to improve on their livelihoods?
The state government is determined to improve on their livelihoods because that was part of the committee’s mandate. The governor has also announced that the repentant bandits will be given livestock like goats, sheep and cows for their animal husbandry business. They will he supported with animal feeds at subsidized price, and even cash. Hitherto, these bandits’ livelihoods are in the livestock business before they were lost to cattle rustlers. It was as a result of losing their livelihoods that made them result into banditry and even killing innocent people in order to revenge their wanton losses. But the state government has promised to uplift them and even train them on other self-reliance skills. So, the state government will ensure that their welfare is prioritized and sustained in order not to go back to these illicit acts again. There are lots of arrangements put in place with traditional leaders and Local Government administrators to further guide them in ensuring that they do not go back to their old trade again.
Opposition voices have raised fears and expressed doubts on the success of the Amnesty initiative? What is your take?
Yes. This peace accord and amnesty offer initiative is real and not a gimmick as speculated by those opposition voices in the state. It was designed to succeed and that is why it is yielding positive results in earnest. The peace of Sokoto people is paramount to the governor and that is why he has sacrificed his time and resources to ensure that this issue of banditry is nipped in the bud. To Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, government is not about construction of projects or provision of social amenities but to also save lives and properties. And that is what he is doing in the state. I can recall that one of the cardinal promises he made to the people of the state is to ensure that there is peace and unity in the land. Hitherto, there have been political uprising among party supporters but since he ascended to the position of the governor, he has been playing the role of father to all in respective of tribal, religious or political backgrounds. The creation of State Ministry of Security Matters by the governor and headed by a renowned security expert as its commissioner is a sign of commitment on the part of the current administration to ensure that lives and properties of citizens of Sokoto were safe. We are now enjoying the serene peace Sokoto State is known for now that the issue of bandit attacks is over.
Now that Sokoto has set the pace, what advice do you have for such neighboring states where you claim the bandits activities have emanated from?
I want to encourage them to see Sokoto as a model state. They should borrow from Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s initiative in order to achieve similar objectives. Although, such states may have different plans or initiatives to bring lasting peace to their respective state, back here in Sokoto State, we have a governor with listening ears and an experienced administrator who know what can be done to ensure peace. So, if other states see Sokoto as a model, I urge them to copy from it. Although, we have been seeing the similar efforts of Zamfara and Katsina governors. They are also meeting with some of these bandits to talk to them. One thing I understand is that no where in the world that the use of force or gun has brought lasting peace. It is only with reasonable dialogue that such peace can be achieved. We all see what is happening in Syria, Sudan, Pakistan, etc, that show that force can not achieved meaningful peace and development.
Aside from security, what other sectors do you think the governor has excelled in since inception?
The governor has done well in all sectors. For instance, you know that water scarcity is synonymous with Sokoto residents in the past. But today, a lot has been improved in the area of water supply. Look at education, especially the basic education which is free to the tertiary level. Scholarships are given to all indigenous students home and abroad. See the area of girl-child education where stipends are being paid to parents who allowed their wards to enroll in schools rather than hawking on the streets. All international donors have been giving commendations to Sokoto State for being worthy partners because of fulfilling all her counterpart findings to achieve greatness. Traders are getting loans without collaterals to grow their business, courtesy of the state government. Go round the state capital and see many feeder roads being constructed by the present administration. The truth is that we have a governor who did not believe in blowing his own trumpet. He is a silence achiever in all ramifications.