By Mary Noel-Berje |
Buffeted on different fronts, Niger State has had to deal with matters that make the pursuit of peace take the front-burner. The issues arising in quick rapidity have tried the patience of its people and creativity of its leadership under Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.
He has had to combine dealing with the hydra-headed monster called insecurity and build up other sectors, especially the education sector.
It may be necessary to see how well he has acquitted himself with the meagre funds available, a rising population, and challenges of keeping his people at peace, building infrastructure and giving a sense of belonging to all, indigenes, other residents, and visitors to the large state.
Peace defines our values, attitudes, ideals, and the forms of behaviour that promote respect for human life and preach against violence.
However, security challenges bedevilling developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, has remained a major source of concern to government, organisations, men and women of good character.
The lack of peace has been largely characterized by conflicts, sectorial crises, criminal activities and communal clashes which often lead to colossal loss of lives and property and in some cases make such communities unsafe for human existence.
Realising the significance of peace, the Niger State government under the leadership of Sani Bello has evolved both the kinetic and non-kinetic strategies to conduct combat missions, especially as they affect crimes in the 21st century in some local government areas of the state.
This has been the core philosophy of Niger state government since Sani Bello’s coming on the 29th of May, 2015 as he has not minced his words in his determination and commitment to maintaining the relative peace and harmony across the state through the collaborative efforts of security agencies, traditional institutions and the state government.
As a response to the need for innovative, effective, and efficient peace building and development methodologies, the state chief executive has been providing a platform for the exchange of ideas between the critical stakeholders in security and key government officials.
The governor is equally actively involved in the peace building processes in parts of the country.
The government has also devised different approaches to addressing insecurity affecting some local government areas of the state.
Sani Bello has distributed many Hilux vehicles and motorcycles to the Joint Taskforce and other security agencies as well as the state branch of Vigilante Group of Nigeria as a necessary step in combating crime of 21st Century.
In addition, he is also making the 30,000 hectares Grazing Reserve a model in the country to encourage ranching and allow the herder to stay in one place where they can have access to schools, water and veterinary health services.
Governor Sani Bello is looking at the idea of multimillion naira Ruga settlement project more from the security rather than an economic point of view, as the incessant farmer/herder conflict is partly responsible for the increasing rise in armed banditry, especially in the North.
The reserve has cultivated about three hundred hectares of pasture which is quite sufficient to feed nine thousand cattle while the excess pasture will be available for sale to any part of the country.
All civilised approach engaged by the government, offering some of the bandits amnesty, and even providing some with a means of livelihood to stop their nefarious activities, has hit the rock as they have continued to unleash mayhem on some communities in the state.
That is not all as the governor has also sought assistance from the Federal Government, and is in close collaboration and supporting the Armed Forces as well as other security agencies in order to bring an end to the menace of these criminals.
Niger State Government is also in collaborative efforts with the governments of Zamfara, Kebbi and Kaduna States who are similarly contending with security challenges and share borders with Niger State, to face the mutually shared dangerous activities of the bandits.
In spite of all these efforts by the Governor, the bandits have remained undaunted in carrying out their nefarious activities in Niger State, leveraging on the size of the state, which is about ten percent of the country’s landmass and dotted with large forests.
The armed bandits kidnapped sixty one NSTA bus passengers at Kundu Village near Zungeru, the forgotten capital of Northern Nigeria and held fifty-three of them including women and children in captivity for a week.
A few days after, the armed bandits carried out another dastardly act kidnapping 38 students, three staff and some members of their families from the Government Science Secondary School Kagara, headquarters of Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
This particular act drew world attention to Minna, the seat of Government.
However, the government secured the release of the kidnapped NSTA bus passengers following series of dialogue, consultations, hard work and sleepless nights.
The released kidnapped victims went through a thorough medical therapy and evaluation before they were reunited with their families.
– Mary Noel-Berje is the chief press secretary to the Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello