Ex-vice chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and Chairman, Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, has called for massive investment in human development, security and infrastructure as panacea to spate of insecurity across the country.
Ango, who called for recalcitrant bandits to be rehabilitated and integrated, noted that the root of banditry is still very young in Nigeria and can easily be uprooted with right measures, just as he urged for domestication of herders and improvements in the quality of life of Fulani herder communities as a long term solution to the challenge of kidnapping and banditry.
Addressing the Northern Peoples Summit on Wednesday titled “North in Nigeria: Addressing our Challenges Together”, the varsity don turned farmer said, “we have people who are tired of living with insults from fellow Nigerians, attacks from rogue elements in our communities, and groups in other parts of Nigeria who seem to think the Northerners are expendable and a stepping stone in pursuit of their political objectives.
“Those elements that show a genuine willingness to abandon criminality should be rehabilitated and integrated. Those who insist on pursuing criminality should be stoutly resisted by the Nigerian state and by communities. Those who attack and kill Northerners must be stopped and be prosecuted. Armed criminality requires bold steps and policies to deal with it.
“Dealing with criminality, poverty and destitution in the North will require a national effort to mitigate. The nation needs to consider massive investment in human capital development, infrastructure and basic security if it will reverse the rising tide of frustrations, destitution and criminality which afflicts most of the North. This was the approach that substantially resolved the Niger Delta militancy.
“Banditry, insurgency, cultism, piracy and irredentism are threats to the nation, and they must be treated with a mindset that appreciates their roots, complexities and solutions in a national context. We know that the roots of banditry in which Fulani are substantially involved has very young roots, and it is still possible to eliminate it, provided we deploy resources and resourceful attitudes towards dealing with it.
“Federal and Northern state governments should design and implement plans for the domestication of herders and improvements in the quality of life of Fulani herding communities. Boko Haram and armed Fulani criminal activities are not problems of the North or Kanuri or Fulani. They are national problems, and they threaten every Nigerian in equal measure.
“Those who think they can solve the criminality amongst elements of Fulani through ethnic cleansing make a terrible mistake: it is not just the Fulani with an AK47 that needs to be eliminated. Every community habours people who can buy AK47s and do what the criminal Fulani does.
“The Nigerian state must realise that its legitimate monopoly over the use of violence has been severely damaged, and it cannot build straw fences around communities to give them a false sense of security.”
Speaking on the 2023 general elections, Prof. Abdullahi said Northerners will not vote along ethnicity and faith in electing political leaders in 2023, noting that the people had learnt their lesson at a great cost.
He said politicians that will be voted for must have socio-economic development plans for the Northerners irrespective of tribe and religion, and must care for the people before, during and after election.
He urged the North to “think out of the box and elect new sets of leaders who will do a lot better than the current ones”.
He also advised those agitating to go their separate ways to have a rethink, saying that secession is not a solution to any grievance, while calling on the Federal Government to take the threat of separation with all the seriousness it deserves.
Speaking on behalf of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Sen. Ibrahim Ida said, “The North is at a crossroad. We really need internal cohesion through elite consensus of what the North stands for the resources available and what we want to achieve. We have enemies within, we need to turn them around and make them see things our own way. There is absence of inclusion in the way we run our affairs
“We are the fabric holding Nigeria together. We are being provoked. Let’s change the template, portray our interest in the way we want it. We must ensure at the end that nobody takes us for granted.
Also speaking, former Speaker Federal House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’abba said in the last 60 years the system has worked for Northerners. Lots of people are eligible to contest but not suitable to lead. Leadership is not for everybody, it’s not an all comers affair, leaders must possess so many virtues.
“In 1999 when I realised that there was an agenda against the North, I did everything possible to ensure it doesn’t succeed but its among our governors that I met one of the stiffest oppositions. Some of them because they want to come back, some because they want to become president, and worked with the president who wants to destroy the North.”