The Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai on Tuesday stirred another controversy by demanding an all onslaught against perpetrators of banditry and all forms of insurgency in the northern part of thd country.
Recently, contrary to the belief by most of his colleagues in the region that negotiation and dialogue were the best ways to tackle the twin menace of banditry and insurgency, the governor said he would neither negotiate and dialogue with bandits or pay compensation even if any of his children was kidnapped.
“We will not engage with bandits or kidnappers. Private citizens like clerics and clergy men can do so in their individual capacities to preach to them and ask them to repent.
“We also want them to repent. But it is not our job to ask them to do so,’’ the governor at the end of the State Security Council meeting in Kaduna.
Again, on Tuesday, the governor who spoke at the Financing Safe School in Nigeria dialogue in Abuja reiterated his stance on how to tackle banditry and insurgency in the country.
He said bandits and insurgents could be wiped out in two to three months if the government, through the security agencies, were really determined to do so.
The governor called for the use of a combination of air power by the Nigerian Air Force and boots on ground by the Nigerian Army.
“The solution to the menace to banditry and insurgency is to thekr perpetrators,” the governor said.
“Kill them all. Nobody living in the forest is innocent (of the crime). Kill them all”, he added.
The governor commended the Nigerian Air Force for sustaining its air strikes on the bandits and other insurgents, which has dampened the activities of the criminals.
In addition to the combined onslaught of the country’s armed forces, the governor suggested the deployment of drones to target the bandits and other insurgents.
He lamented the negative impact of banditry and insurgency, which have evolved over time to the current scary stage, where school children, particularly the girl-children, are targets in parts of the country.
The girl-children have been prime targets of bandits, kidnappers and other insurgents in the country because they command higher kidnap value than their male counterparts.
Reviewing the security situation in Kaduna state, the governor said reported four attempts to kidnap students in Kaduna in recent times.
However, he said thanks to credible intelligence from the operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) and the vigilance of the communities, the kidnap attempts were foiled successfully.
Given the bandits’ penchant to kidnap students, el-Rufai said the state government carried out security assessments of about 40 schools in kidnap endemic areas.
From the data, he said 10 of the schools discovered to be prone to attacks due to their locations have since been closed, while the 30 others are left as security agencies can get to them in 30 minutes ro counter any security situation.
On solutions to the menace of bandits and insurgents, el-Rufai said his state government decided to construct fences in many of the schools, apart from encouraging community involvement in protecting schools in their domains.
Security agencies, he said, are overstretched and need to be empowered by thse government to be able to discharge their functions effectively.
Describing the police as the weakest link in the chain of security agencies in the country, the governor said the force has been under-financed to discharge its constitutional function.
Proposing the devolution of the police to the states to make it able to secure the communities, the governor also suggested an amendment to the constitution to accommodate that proposal.
On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff Leo Irabor said “investing in defence is a good investment by the government”.
Irabor said the narratives in the media that the government expenditure on security was a waste was not true.
“We need to tone down, because it creates too much fear in the minds of the people. I’d rather urge the media to understand that a failed nation is not good for the media”.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said with an estimated 13 million children currently out of school in the country, we sit in the precipice of a major socio-economic disaster and a full education crisis if the government did not act in a coordinated manner to stop the current wave of systematic attacks on the fundamental rights of children to a safe learning environment.
Parents, she said, “are increasingly more nervous about sending their children, particularly their young girls, to school, with some choosing to withdraw existing students.
“The time to act to stop the problem is now”, the Minister said.
On Nigeria’s fiscal space, the minister said the country remained constrained with the COVID-19 response, which requires increased borrowing by the country, as the case has been in other countries across the world.
Going forward, she said it has become an imperative that the government worked collaboratively across government and the private sector and international development partners to develop funding strategies to drive the creation of safe education environment in the country.
The process, Ahmed insisted must not only be government-led, but strategic, to result in a multi-7stakeholder framework and plan of action that ensures any planning by the government today was sustainably financed.
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