Sequel to the outbreak of violence in different parts of the country, especially in the north, the chairman of Northern States Governors Forum, Hon Kashim Shettima, yesterday called on Nigerians to avoid putting political, ethnic and religious colorations to the conflict facing the region. Addressing the governors during the forum’s meeting held at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, in Kaduna, Shettima told them that as elected leaders, they had the primary responsibility of taking a hard and critical look at the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen and coming up with workable solutions. The Borno State governor stated that it was also critically important that, as a long term measure, the region’s governors should devise viable strategies to forestall all forms of security breaches that could erupt in the future. Shettima said: “Your Excellencies, top on the agenda of today’s meeting is the issue of the lingering inter-communal crisis in various parts of the region, which, in recent times, appear to be escalating with deadly and destructive consequences.

“However, I need to emphasise that whatever resolutions we may arrive at should be without prejudice to the various commendable and comprehensive measures being put in place by the federal government in addressing the security challenges, especially the recent abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls. “Our prayers and commiseration go to the government and people of Yobe State as well as the families of the victims over the sad and unfortunate incident. Similarly, in the last few days, Taraba and Kaduna states have again experienced spates of deadly and destructive communal clashes which culminated in the loss of many lives and destruction of millions of naira worth of property.  “Although the security agencies have responded positively and are now on top of the situation, we, as a forum, need to pay particular attention to the root causes of such conflicts and their seemingly intractable nature with an open mind and from an unbiased perspective, in order to arrive at comprehensive means of addressing them.

We should, in the process, also avoid inputting political, ethnic or religious colorations to the conflict.” He also commended the efforts being made by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Dapchi abduction crisis, by ensuring the deployment of necessary security personnel and equipment towards the rescue of the abducted girls. Speaking on the calls for restructuring,  Shettima said the forum’s committee on restructuring headed by Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was expected to submit its interim report during its meeting after which it would be deliberated upon. According to the governor, another important item for the forum to discuss in their meeting concerned New Nigeria Development Company Limited (NNDC).

Shettima added: “It is a known fact that the current board and management of the NNDC have, in the last few years, initiated commendable measures aimed at resuscitating the company as the economic live-wire of the region. “Although, some appreciable progress has been made in this regard, there are still quite a number of institutional challenges and inadequacies which need to be addressed in order to enable the company to forge ahead and achieve its desired objectives. “These include, recapitalisation of the company’s share capital from N500 million to N2.750 billion; the resuscitation of Kaduna Textiles Ltd and the urgent need to ensure the full take-off of the New Nigeria Commodity Marketing Company. These are just few of the critical areas of concern in respect of the NNDC which we, as a forum, need to strategically examine and adequately resolve.”

. . . Urge FG To Declare State Of Emergency On Drug Abuse

The 19 state governors under the umbrella of Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) have called on the federal government to quickly declare state of emergency on drug abuse in the country as part of renewed efforts to deal with the scourge. The forum’s chairman and Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, who read the communiqué after its meeting in Kaduna, expressed concern at the growing and widespread nature of drug abuse, especially among youths, and appealed to all the relevant authorities to step up efforts in combating the menace. The communiqué also urged the federal government to provide all the necessary funds and equipment to the relevant agencies, like the National Agency for Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in their unrelenting fight against drug abuse.

The forum also called on state governments to set up high-powered enforcement committees under the chairmanship of either the deputy governor or secretary to the state government, to ensure that all the relevant laws and statutory provisions in respect of drug abuse are fully and effectively implemented at all times. The forum further enjoined state ministries of women and youths to intensify sensitisation and enlightenment programmes on the dangers of drug abuse. The governors also resolved to come up with appropriate legislations through the various Houses of Assembly in the Northern States.  The forum, after a thorough and meticulous analysis of the incessant crisis between farmers and herdsmen especially in Benue and Nasarawa states, as well as other associated security challenges and the various factors that difectly or indirectly contribute to the worsening situation, resolved to “render full and unequivocal support” to the federal government in its unwavering determination to address the multifarious security challenges in all parts of the nation, especially the measures so far put in place to resolve the lingering clashes between farmers and herdsmen.

The forum requested that implementable and viable strategic measures are initiated by governments at all levels to forestall future occurrence of such violence just as it “admonished political, religious and ethnic jingoist to avoid imputing religious, ethnic and political coloration to such conflicts.”  On the issue of the New Nigerian Development Company Ltd, the forum resolved to ensure that all the needed incentives and the required impetus are given to the company to be one of the most formidable and competitive business outfits in the country. It praised the current management of the NNDC on the commendable strides so far taken towards realising its full potential. “Furthermore, the company was encouraged to come up with investment plans in areas of competence and comparative advantage of the North.

“The forum also resolved to recapitalise the company by injecting more equity funds to strengthen it as well as ensure the full takeoff of the New Nigerian Commodity Marketing Company. Immense appreciation was extended to the board and management of the NNDC, their international technical partners, as well as the Bank of Industry for their efforts and determination towards resuscitating the Kaduna Textile Company.”  On the New Nigerian Newspapers Company Ltd, the forum noted the lingering agitation by pensioners of the company and the subsequent litigation which came about as a result of the non-payment of their pension entitlements. The meeting further noted that the federal government’s Pension Transition Arrangement Programme had conducted a verification exercise of the pensioners towards effecting payment of the pension arrears. It therefore resolved to meet with the pensioners with a view to calming and engaging them in dialogue towards the resolution of the impasse.