Governor Muhammed Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state on Sunday blamed the spate of banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Northern Nigeria on injustice and poor leadership in the region, over long period of time.
He spoke in Kaduna on Sunday, during the presentation of a lead paper titled, “The Fight Against Banditry in Northwest Nigeria: Challenges and Solutions” to herald the inauguration of the new executive of Arewa Media Writers Association. Matawalle said the insecurity if not addressed can swallow Northern Nigeria and even Nigeria.
According to governor Matawalle, it was wrong to ascribe banditry in Zamfara state to mining activities in the state, as Shinkafi and Zurmi local government areas remained the hotbed of bandits activities, even when there are no mining activities in those local councils.
The governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Magaji, said his administration had put a lot of efforts in place to rid the state of bandits.
“When I took office on May 29, 2019, Zamfara state had already been mired in a serious security crisis for over a decade, banditry, livestock rustling, kidnapping, and a host of other crimes.
“On an almost daily basis, the state was in the news for bloodletting, fire, pillage, and significant displacement of people, particularly those living in rural areas. The historical economic, social and cultural ties between the dominant communities of Fulani and Hausa were ruptured; farming activities across the state were halted, and commercial activities were crippled.
“With poverty on the increase and food security seriously affected by the crisis, the state was on the verge of a catastrophic social eruption capable of destabilising communities and the northwest subregion. Rural banditry in Zamfara and other parts of the North is a result of the progressive degradation of our moral standards and a culture of greed fed by an unfettered need for material goods. It is evident that we, the leaders, are responsible for the plight of the North.
“The North lacks responsible leadership to steer it through our time’s uncharted waters. Our ruling elite has no vision for the region beyond gaining political power. We have all seen how the elites in the Southeast and Southwest respond in unison to all matters concerning their regions’ development. We have seen how they have a defined agenda and are relentless in their pursuit of regional development,” he said.
The governor blamed reluctance by the affected states to embrace peace dialogue, lack of support from a section of politicians ready to take advantage of the situation for their own parochial interest to achieve political ends, as top challenges slowing down peace efforts in the region.
He noted that the war against banditry will remain a significant security challenge in the country with the level of unfathomable destruction the bandits are wreaking on the people and economy.
“This is a siren appeal to leaders of the region to wake up from their lethargy and unite in combating this grave challenge. We need to get to the roots of the situation, stop politicising it and act decisively,” he said.