Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Secretary to the Government of Zamfara State(SSG), Prof. Muhammad Shinkafi, has disclosed that the state government has spent over N17billion in its quest at finding lasting solution to the lingering insecurity issue that has been ravaging the state in recent times.
He said the amount which runs from 2011 to date covers payment of allowances, purchase of vehicles and other logistics to security operatives. “Part of the money was also used to provide office and residential accommodation to men of the 223 battalion, 607 quick response, one brigade and the GOC units”, adding that the state government provided some form of assistance to families and victims of the attacks to the tune of N2bn.
The SSG, who spoke over the weekend in Gusau, during a town-hall meeting organised by the NBA to find lasting solution to the worrisome security situation in Zamfara State, said that the state had been sitting on a time bomb for long, hence the need for concerted efforts by all to halt the onslaughts.
Shinkafi, while reeling out efforts by the Abdul’aziz Yari led administration in returning the state back to its position of being the most peaceful state in the federation, said education as well as the need for people to limit the size of their family was crucial in taming the menace of insecurity in the state.
According to him, the crisis which started as a minor clash between herders and farmers has been taken over by armed bandits.
“As at today, we have about 10 major flashpoints in the state”, he said.
“Over 40 attacks since 2009, resulting in the death of over 3,000 persons, destruction of over 2,000 homes, business premises destroyed including about 2,000 hectares of farmland, 500 vehicles burnt, villages overtaken by the bandits and the abduction of over 500 persons for ransom”, he said.
He noted that the situation had created palpable fear in the people and this in turn had crippled the economy of the state.
While thanking the NBA for the visit, the SSG promised that the state government would appreciate and implement recommendations from the NBA, that would bring about peace in Zamfara.
Reacting, National President of the NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud SAN, lamented the huge cost spent in the pursuit of peace by the state, noting that such amount would have impacted positively on the state’s economy.
Mahmoud said security operations by Federal agencies anywhere in the country must be funded by the Federal government and not states.
He however emphasised that funding aside, the state government must show leadership in the fight against insecurity.
Mahmoud said the visit by the NBA was not a political one but a move aimed at promoting peace, resolving the conflict as well as upholding the constitution of Nigeria, adding that, “No matter how high or low, perpetrators caught will be prosecuted”.
He commended the high turnout and the various contributions made, assuring that the NBA would make judicious use of information received in its report and recommendation to relevant authorities.
He also assured that the association would confront the governor over the various allegations against him particularly, his non availability to attend to important and urgent state matters.
Nearly all who spoke at the occasion berated Governor Yari for running the administration from outside Zamfara and called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Zamfara State.
They also identified poverty, unemployment, corruption, ignorance, ethnic, religious sentiment and lack of trust in government as some of the factors fuelling insecurity in the state.
The delegation however visited the Emir of Zurmi, Abubakar Mohammed, where it met with some victims of the attack as part of its fact finding mission.