As part of efforts to curb banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in Nigeria, the Violence-Free Nigeria Initiative has named the former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari as its patron who would drive peaceful coexistence in the country.
In a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, the Convener of the group, Cally Ikpe said the significance of Yari as a patron stemmed from his direct experience with violence while he served as governor of Zamfara State and as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
He said: “Until recently, the dominant themes had been militancy and the Boko Haram menace, but today, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, and the herdsmen crisis have risen to an all-time high that commands international mention.
“While various factors have been cited as being responsible, the common consensus has remained that the crisis would have been less volatile but for the involvement of too many youths who have continued to serve as ready arsenals in the hands of terror merchants. Efforts therefore to rid our nation of violence have long moved from being a sole concern of government as many more institutions and individuals have unwittingly joined in the campaign.”
He said it was in addressing this and leading non-violence among youths that Yari was approached, adding that in his acceptance speech, the ex-governor had told the group that there was no gain in violence , insisting that it will eventually come back to hurt those involved.
“Yari told us he was bothered that many young people were lending themselves to this ugly phenomenon. He said he was pleased therefore that the youths were being targeted with a programme that promotes the culture of nonviolence.
“Our patron is stunned at the sophistication of the weaponry deployed by these bandits who are mostly youths with unimaginable guts. He believes much more ingenious measures were required to tackle the menace as military solution alone has not worked out just yet,” Ikpe narrated.
The convener, who believes Yari will continue his role at checking the spate of violence in the country, said the ex-governor has laid a pragmatic foundation based on a carrot and stick approach in the past.
“Interestingly, the Abuja home of Yari has not ceased to be busy despite leaving office. Instead, his residence has consistently played host to many serving and past governors, traditional rulers, leadership of the national assembly; something Yari ascribe to his disposition as a fence mender, bridge builder and enabler of visions. It is a tendency Yari believes is in tandem with national cohesion, prosperity and unity of Nigeria,” he added.