Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
The Forum of North-east Governors yesterday disclosed that the Nigerian Armed Forces (NAF) did not have sufficient troops on ground to secure lives and properties in the troubled states of the region.
In a related development, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday acknowledged that the Sokoto State Government and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar had played strategic roles in the fight against banditry and criminality in the Northwest.
The forum made the observation in a communique it issued after its 2nd meeting held in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The forum has also nominated Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum as its chairman for a period of two years while the headquarters of the forum would be located in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Reviewing the fight against Boko Haram yesterday, the forum urged the NAF to allow personnel of the Nigeria Police to carry state of the art weapons where necessary in the states that had been battling Boko Haram insurgency in the last decade.
The forum commended the federal government in fighting the insurgency, but urged the armed forces to secure hard-to-reach areas in the region and ensure safe access to farm lands.
The forum, also, called on the federal government “to ensure the deployment of state of the art military hardware to the region.”
It recommended that the manpower deficit in the Nigerian Armed Forces should be bridged by allowing the police to carry state of the art weapons where necessary and be provided with strategic equipment like high velocity tear gas, trackers and armoured personnel carriers (APC).
It urged the Federal Ministry of Water Resources “to ensure that attention is given to recharging Lake Chad from national water bodies and strengthen the river basins in the sub region.”
The forum promised to work together to foster regional integration, growth and development especially in exploitation of its oil and gas potentials, mineral resources, agriculture and industrialisation.
It called on the federal government to revoke selected roads contracts awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works for years without progress and re-award the same to more competent contractors to ensure timely execution.
It also urged the federal government to ensure local content in the execution of the Mambila Hydroelectric power project and other programmes of the North East Development Commission to ensure synergy with state governments.
The forum said it supported the management and Board of the North East Development Commission (NEDC), saying it would work together in producing a comprehensive strategic master plan for the region that will ensure sustainable development.
It affirmed its commitment to the federal government agenda of transforming the Almajiri system with a view to strengthening both Islamic and western education as well as stopping street begging and prevalence of out of school children in the region as agreed by the northern governors.
On the fight against banditry in the Northwest, Buhari said the state government and the Sultan under the administration of Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal had been working closely with the federal government in its fight against armed banditry.
Buhari, who was represented by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), spoke at the wedding of Sultan’s surrogate daughter, Zainab Fodio at the Sultan’s palace in Sokoto yesterday.
He said the cooperation of the state and the monarch with the federal government had helped stabilise the country.
Among others, the wedding was attended by the Minister of Police affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Abubakar Adamu.