In this piece, DANJUMA JOSEPH reports that Governor Abdullahi Sule’s approaches to battling security challenges are yielding positive results.
A few years back, Nasarawa State earned the fame as the hotbed of sectarian crisis which snowballed into a raging war of some sorts between some dominant tribes in the state.
The state witnessed persistent crisis between herders and farmers, Tiv-Fulani crisis, and even the Ombatse-induced sectarian crisis, all of which led to colossal loss of life and property.
Nasarawa State, as we are all aware, was created out of the present Plateau State by the late head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha, on October 1, with 13 local government areas.
Like most states of the federation, Nasarawa’s security situation raised a lot of concerns because there were surges in armed robbery, kidnappings, farmers/herders’ clashes, border clashes and other security challenges that had bedevilled the state.
Indeed, the southern senatorial zone of the state which houses the council areas of Lafia, Obi, Awe, Keana and Doma, areas predominantly occupied by farming communities, have been the centre of the crisis and other security challenges.
Even though incidences of kidnappings, robberies and other crimes have also been taking toll on the residents of the western senatorial zone of the state comprising Keffi, Nassarawa, Toto and other council areas, the bulk of the state’s security challenges seemed to be from the southern zone.
Reflectively, from the administration of the first civilian governor of the state, Abdullahi Adamu, who is now a member of the present 9th Senate, to the era of the late Aliyu Akwe Doma, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and now Engr Abdullahi Sule, security challenges came in different dimensions.
The then governor Abdullahi Adamu, who governed the state between 1999 and 2007, was confronted by communal crises that claimed life and property worth millions of naira, involving Alago, Tiv and herders in the southern part of the state.
Adamu, now the senator representing Nasarawa West Senatorial zone at the National Assembly, stared the crises in the face and dealt with the situation by deploying all the necessary security apparatus at his disposal to quell the situation that made him restless at that trying moment.
The Aliyu Akwe Doma’s administration that lasted for only four years and made security one of its 13- point agenda, faced little security as he consolidated on the security template of his predecessor, Abdullahi Adamu.
The late Doma, in December 2008, donated 50 units of vehicles to all security outfits in the state, through the then Inspector-General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, to fight crime and criminality in the state.
The immediate past governor, who is now the senator representing Nasarawa south at the National Assembly, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, also had his fair share of some security challenges.
Ranging from Ombatse sectarian crisis, to farmers-herders’ clashes, kidnappings and robbery, the then governor weather the storm by fighting the entire crisis to a standstill.
The former governor during his time donated over 100 units of vehicles to all the security apparatuses in the state to help in confronting the security challenges.
“In line with the constitutional responsibility of protecting life and property of the citizens, we have been working assiduously to curtail the unfortunate incidents through synergy and necessary collaborations.
“In this connection, President Muhammadu Buhari, proactively directed the security chiefs to immediately deploy security personnel to restore normalcy, as well as maintain law and order in the crisis areas,” he once said.
Al-Makura also donated a site for the construction of 178 Guard Battalion Barracks of the Nigerian Army in Doma local government area of the state with the donation of additional N200 million to support the Nigerian Army in the construction of the barracks.
By 2016, statistics had it that conflicts had claimed 2,500 lives, displaced thousands, destroyed properties worth billions of Naira and had several other humanitarian consequences on the people of the state.
A series of conflicts have been experienced in Obi, Doma, Keana and Awe local government areas of the state, leading to the displacement of communities and loss of life and property.
When Governor Abdullahi Sule came on board in May 2019, he pointed out that he has identified security as the topmost priority of his administration, as without it, all the good things the government is working hard to put in place to better both the state and people may not come to fruition.
“No matter the cost of security, it’s not too expensive for the state to bear. For us, security is number one because without it, all we have been looking for in Nasarawa State will not actually come and be of any benefit to any one of our people,” Engr Sule said.
A few months into his administration, Governor Sule met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, over the worsening security situation in the state where he admitted, while addressing State House correspondents, that Nasarawa had been in the news as a result of kidnappings and killings recorded.
The governor who recalled that a traditional ruler was recently killed in the state, however, attributed the security challenges to bandits, who, he said, were dislodged from the North West and North East zones of the country.
Conscious of his responsibility as the chief security officer and mindful of the fact that the state has had to contend with a myriad of security challenges in the past, Governor Sule made issues of security his priority and has remained consistent in providing all the needed support to those directly responsible for addressing insecurity.
Owing to the state government’s pragmatic approaches in addressing issues of security, Nasarawa has continued to witness reduction in crime and criminality.
As should be expected, Governor Sule has remained committed to assisting security operatives with needed materials to enable them deliver on their mandates of securing the state.
Only recently, he donated Hilux vehicles, motorcycles and other essential items to officers and men of the Special Forces command headquartered in Doma council of the state.
Indeed, the governor’s efforts got a further boost as exemplified by the siting of a Police Mobile Force training college at Ende hills in Nasarawa Eggon area of the state, the Special Forces Headquarters in Doma LGA and Air Force base in Lafia, the state capital, all of which are helping in tackling some of the security challenges in the state.
But to what extent has the Governor Sule administration’s efforts helped in boosting security in the state?
Musa Embugus is a security expert who spent close to two decades in one of the nation’s security forces. He told LEADERSHIP Friday that the state is without doubt, witnessing improvement in the area of security.
“To appreciate what we currently have in Nasarawa, one must first of all take a look at what the situation was. We had the Ombatse crisis which led to the killing of countless able bodied youths, displacement of many and the loss of properties.
“I don’t want to be talking about other intermittent sectarian crises that have turned some parts of the state into a theatre of war, to put it mildly, before now. But there is relative peace in the state. Comparatively, Nasarawa has a very low crime rate and this couldn’t have been possible without the dogged commitment of the state government,” he said.
Indeed, like the governor observed recently, improvement in the security situation has led to enhanced investment drive to the extent that a Q1 2020 investment report on the state by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) showed positive rating.
Interestingly, Governor Sule who is obviously impressed with the NIPC report assured the people that the successes recorded in the area of attracting and retaining investment in the state would be sustained.
By and large, the state government’s efforts, especially in taking proactive measures which have prevented a situation where conflicts from neighbouring states of Benue and Taraba spill to the state, has earned him accolades from the residents.
“Through deliberate leadership policies, Governor Sule is changing the narrative of Nasarawa State security situation. We couldn’t have asked for more. This is a governor that has remained true to his words of ensuring that frontal actions are taken against insecurity,” Emeka Nwobu, a 47-year-old trader who said he has lived all his life in Lafia where he was born, enthused.