By Nura Ibrahim Birnin Magaji
The recent approach by the Defence Ministry and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to address insecurity in northern Nigeria is a step in the right direction.
This approach will lead to improved, sincere and determined collaboration among the northern states Governors, the federal government, and other critical stakeholders in the region to tackle the root causes of insecurity.
It is evident that the insecurity in northern Nigeria has led to the loss of lives and property as the activities of armed bandits and other criminal elements have made lives unbearable for people within the region. Banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism have become common occurrences, and the region is in dire need of effective solutions.
There now seems to be a ray of hope with the collaboration between the Defence Ministry and the CNG which has already begun to yield positive results, aiming to permanently resolve the rising insecurity in Zamfara state and ultimately the entire northern region.
The collaboration between the government and CNG to safeguard the lives and properties of citizens, especially in the northern part of the country, is focused on bringing lasting peace to the region through rapid military response, dialogue, understanding, and mutual respect.
Though it could be a step in the right direction towards ending insecurity in Nigeria, it is important however, to note that this problem cannot be solved by this collaboration alone.
First, the northern states Governors must necessarily collaborate with the Federal Government and other critical stakeholders in the region to address the root causes of insecurity and come up with effective solutions that will benefit everyone.
It is theseccollaborative efforts between the government, security agencies, civil society organizations, and communities affected by insecurity that will ensure that everyone is involved in finding lasting solutions to this problem.
Addressing the root causes of insecurity is also crucial. Poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to education are some of the factors that contribute to insecurity in Nigeria.
It is therefore important that these issues are addressed holistically to prevent future occurrences. Furthermore, dialogue and mutual respect among all parties involved are essential for sustainable peace. It is important that everyone’s views and concerns are heard and taken into consideration during discussions aimed at resolving conflicts.
With this realization, a delegation from the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) was mobilized to the Zamfara State capital, Gusau, to assess the situation regarding the recent attacks on the Federal University, Gusau that resulted in the abduction of yet to be specified number of female students by heartless bandits.
While in Gusau, the CNG delegation interacted with various stakeholders, including officials from the state government, the affected families, community leaders, security agencies, and representatives from the academic community. During one of those interactions, the Gusau University authorities expressed gratitude to the Military for its commendable efforts and gallantry in response to the threats to the university community.
They emphasized the importance of strengthening security measures within the university premises to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors. However, they also stressed the need to strengthen security measures within the university premises to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors.
They acknowledged the presence of a military formation at Kwatarkwashi, approximately five kilometers from the campus, which is understaffed with very few troops deployed. Whenever they receive another distress call at Magami, Wanzamai, or Kuceri, also within their area of coverage, the University environment becomes porous and vulnerable, leaving it open to potential danger. As a solution, they proposed establishing a security outpost to replace the current mobile formation and be permanently dedicated to securing the campus and Sabon Gida community where most students reside.
The CNG team observed that the lack of fortification fencing and security ditches around the university has caused concerns among many individuals, highlighting the need for urgent measures. Similarly, the State Government also recognized the troops’ efforts in combating the attackers, despite the insufficient number of personnel available. The government suggested deploying additional contingents to reinforce the current ones and recommended establishing a commission to coordinate efforts, allocate resources, and implement development programs in Zamfara State and the entire North-West region, similar to the Niger Delta and North East Development Commissions.
While presenting their findings and recommendations regarding the security situation in Zamfara and the North-West to the Minister of State Defence, Bello Mohammed Matawale, the CNG emphasized the need for the government and security forces to combat insurgency in Zamfara with determination and adherence to legal obligations.
The group also stressed that achieving full cessation of hostilities, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in the entire region is imperative for declaring victory. The Minister was moved by the report and promptly instructed for a military outpost to be established near the university campus as request by the University authorities and supported by the CNG report, with the sole responsibility of securing the campus.
After receiving the report and recommendations from the CNG, Matawalle pledged to work with the federal Ministry of Education to begin and complete the fencing fortification around the university premises. He also stated that the Defence Ministry will provide ditches around the campus. Matawalle recognized Nigeria’s courageous troops and praised the new sense of collaboration between frontline states and the strong determination of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the battle against banditry and kidnapping in Zamfara and other North-West states.
Additionally, he applauded the CNG for its proactive approach and willingness to collaborate with the Federal Government in addressing security concerns in the North-West region, specifically in Zamfara State. It is no secret that the security situation in Zamfara state has negatively impacted agriculture, transportation, and other economic activities in the state, leading to a huge loss of revenue. Therefore, this initiative will not only bring about relief to the residents of Zamfara state but also serve as an economic boost.
It is imperative that the Zamfara state government, along with all stakeholders, key into this initiative as it offers a glimmer of hope for a region that has been constantly bleeding. The coalition’s efforts, in collaboration with the defense minister, have shown that a solution to the insecurity problem plaguing the north exists.
The initiative also has the potential to create a conducive environment for economic growth and development within the region. All stakeholders must give their support for the success of this initiative, and the Zamfara state government must lead the charge. The role of the entire northern states Governors in this initiative cannot be overemphasized. They need to work closely with the federal government and other stakeholders to identify the root causes of insecurity in their respective states and come up with effective solutions to be implemented and coordinated collectively address them.
One of the critical stakeholders in this initiative is the local communities. They are the ones directly affected by insecurity, and their input is essential in developing effective solutions. The traditional rulers, religious leaders, and civil society organizations in the region also have a vital role to play in the initiative. The federal government, on its part, needs to provide the necessary support to ensure that the initiative is successful. This support includes funding, logistics, and security personnel.
It is unfortunate that while the Ministery of Defence and the CNG were working diligently towards a common goal, the state Governor of Zamfara State Dauda Lawal was away in New York. This absence may have hindered the progress and coordination of the efforts being made. The actions of the Governor the day of the attack on the Gusau University campus are inexcusable. Abandoning the state and staying incommunicado for several days is not only irresponsible but also sends the wrong message to the people of the state.
It is insensitive for him not to stand with his people during times of crisis and work towards finding solutions to the challenges facing his state. Now that the Governor has returned, people are understandably waiting to see what he will do next. It is essential that he comes off the high horse and reach out to the Federal Government to for effective coordination of efforts to address the security concerns in the state and work towards ensuring that such attacks do not happen again. He should keep in mind that leadership comes with great responsibility, and it is imperative that he understands the gravity of his actions and how they impact the people he leads. In times of crisis, leaders must stand strong and provide reassurance to their people that they are working towards a resolution.