In a bid to address the security situation in the country, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Tuesday indicated that it may go with the option of engaging in dialogue with bandits and those who were affected by their atrocities.
Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the NGF, said this when he led some members of the forum on a solidarity visit to Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger State Governor, in Minna, the state capital, over the abduction of students and staff from Government Science College, Kagara.
According to Governor Fayemi, the forum need to explore other avenues coupled with what the security agencies are doing if it means engaging in dialogue, saying they might have to do it.
He said: “We all feel your pain. We feel the fears and the anxieties of the good people of Niger State. This is not something that is uncommon. What happens here is not unique to you. You have been part of several delegations to Bornu State to Katsina State, to Ogun State and to Oyo State. As a matter of fact, you were in Ogun State when the Kagara incident happened, and you had to rush back home in order to attend to the challenge in Niger State.
“We don’t want to come here on a cycle of lamentation. That’s not our job. Yes, we want to be compassionate. Yes, we want to be sympathetic. We want to feel the pain of our people because our first responsibility as governors as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution is the security and welfare of our people, but we don’t want to lament because the citizens want us to fix the problem. Our people just want us to find a permanent solution to this cycle of violence, insurgence, banditry, criminality, and brigandage in our country.”
“We also need to explore other avenues side by side with whatever the security institutions are doing if that means engaging in dialogue We may not have a choice. We may have to do that, anything to help us to deal with this immediate crisis and then to begin to address on a much more longer time basis, the root causes of this social dislocation responsible for what we are witnessing, all around us,” he said.
The NGF commended the strategies taken by Governor Bello which resulted in the release of the passengers that were abducted on the Niger State Transport Service bus on February 14.
Responding, the Niger State Governor said the solidarity visit of his colleagues was a morale booster to him and the people of the state, adding that time has come for federal authorities to key in and join the state governments noting that there is a limit to what they can do in terms of operational control.
He also agreed with the suggestion given by his Ekiti counterpart of holding dialogue with bandits, adding that the needful must be done.
He said: “Time has come for the federal authorities to key in and work with state governments so that we are able to provide adequate intelligence and find a lasting solution to this menace.
“We are state governors, but we all have our limitations when it comes to control of operations. We do not fully control the Army, Air Force or even the police.”
“I agree we should hold dialogue, as bad as it seems. There is the need to look at the root causes and see how we can address them, but then, make no mistake, for those who have chosen the path of terrorism and do not show any sign of repentance, then the needful must be done.”
Gunmen on Wednesday last week stormed Government Science College, Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of the state and abducted 27 students and 15 workers.
However, the governor has assured that the state government is committed in securing the release of the abducted students and workers.