The Northern States Governors Forum, (NSGF) has said that the unity of the country is non-negotiable and the forum will not allow partisanship to affect its decisions as the forum has gone beyond political, tribal and religious sentiments.
The forum also inaugurated a committee on reconciliation, healing and security, to address the recurring insecurity challenges in the Northern States and around the country which pose serious threat to national stability, unity and development.
The Northern Governors, after a crucial meeting in Abuja yesterday described the negative trends as instruments of discrimination and promotion of primordial sentiments by some people for their own selfish interests.
“It is for this reason that we have resolved at this forum not to allow partisanship to influence our relationships and decision making processes. Whether anybody is from the PDP, the CPC or the ANPP, it does not matter, as we are united by the need to deliver services and to protect the lives and property of the people, irrespective of our political party affiliations,” the governors declared.
The NSGF also set up a committee to examine the draft Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB) currently at the National Assembly to know how it affects the northern states.
The forum gave the Committee on Reconciliation, Healing and Security 90 days to submit its report.
Inaugurating the committee, the chairman of the NSGF and Niger State Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, urged it to examine reports and other white papers such as reports of the Wammako-led Northern Governors’ Committee on security; Report of Northern States Attorneys-General; Sheikh Ahmed Lemu Report on post - Election violence; Galtimari report on security challenges in north eastern Nigeria; and General Abdusalami Abubakar and Maitama Sule Report, among others.
Aliyu also emphasised that the committee was set up in view of the recurrent incidents of violence and wanton destruction of lives and property which have almost crippled the economy of northern states and paralyzed socio-political activities to the detriment of development.
The committee is expected to liaise with stakeholders in the Northern States, particularly the affected states, and get to the root of the security challenges and proffer solutions; dialogue with any identified groups with a view to negotiating the way out of the menace and liaise with the federal government and deliberate on the best approach to resolving the security challenges;
It will also work out modalities for reconciling warring parties/communities in the North; organise meetings and have interactive sessions with stake holders across the states; engage experts from the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP), West African Network on Peace building (WANEP) and other relevant organizations for further discussion and strategic inputs; recommend mechanisms for peace building and entrenchment of enduring democratic values at the ward, local government and state level; and design mechanisms to address youth restiveness and unemployment in the region.
“Securing our future as one united, indivisible and prosperous nation must be pursued with a sense of equity, fairness and justice. We have realised that most of the challenges we are facing of poverty, unemployment, youth restiveness and violence are manifestation of rejection of core values of honesty, equity, fairness and justice in our communities, societies and indeed nation.
We have allowed greed, corruption and incompetence to overwhelm us over time. The situation has left majority of the people aggrieved, while we have collectively abandoned our comparative advantage in agriculture, to the extent that as a nation we now virtually import every food item to the detriment of our growth, progress and development,” the NSGF chairman stated.
Chairman of the committee, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim, while speaking on behalf of the committee promised that the committee will not let the NSGF and Northerners down.
He said “on our own we will not fail you. We will do all we can to provide you with some solution which when implemented will go a long way in restoring the glory of the north” and commended the governors for their attempts at dealing with the security problems at their various levels.
Governors present at the meeting include those of Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Benue (Deputy), Adamawa (Deputy).