Yahaya Moves to Secure Gombe Ahead of 2023 Polls
Gombe State Government has held its maiden Peace and Security Summit aimed at providing pathways to dealing with emerging security threats before the general elections in the state early next year. Segun Awofadeji reports
Representatives of various organizations, community leaders, strategic stakeholders and resource persons participated in the three – day Summit, which was held in Gombe, the state capital, which extensively discussed all security issues affecting Gombe State.
They also thoroughly pondered over the measures being taken to address the challenges.
The Summit also offered the participants an opportunity to interact and converse with some of the leading experts and stakeholders in internal security management in the country with a view to charting new directions for better and effective management of internal security in the state and the country at large.
It could be recalled that before Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya took office, political violence, electoral thuggery, armed banditry and even insurgency were the sorry lot of the Gombe people as the political leaders and their surrogates battled each other for dominance of state power.
In fact some of the political actors resorted to ethnic and religious baiting setting one group against the other while others armed thugs to harass, maim and even kill perceived opponents and adversaries. The infamous Kalere thugs were utilised by some self-styled political godfathers to engage in a brutal campaign of despotism, impunity and political oppression unprecedented in the annals of Gombe state’s history.
Before he came to power in May, 2019, the Governor vowed to reduce crime to the barest minimum and mitigate security threats, thus guaranteeing the security of lives and property for all people of Gombe State as was captured in his campaign manifesto.
Community involvement participation in security matters is another aspect where Gombe State got it right. Governor Yahaya has succeeded in creating a strong platform where community and religious leaders participate in the formulation of security related policies and their implementation. Community policing is part of the security framework that reflects community participation in security matters. Community security committees were put in place and were equipped with dedicated telephone lines for reporting security breeches by members of the public. This helped security operatives to nip any infraction in the bud.
The state government under Governor Yahaya adopted dialogue as an effective strategy for settlement of communal disputes. In many instances, disputes on land, tribal or ethnic grounds in the state were settled through engagement of traditional and community leaders.
With all these laudable projects, policies and initiatives geared towards fighting crime, promoting mutual dialogue and advancing peaceful cohabitation among the citizens of the state coupled with his unbiased, equitable and balanced approach to political and public service appointments as well as the siting of key projects in all the 11 local governments in the State thus enthroning unprecedented peace and harmony, it is clear that Governor Yahaya doubly deserves the Grand Ambassador Award of Security and Peace in Nigeria recently bestowed on him.
And no wonder, the Sultan of Sokoto once described Governor Inuwa as a truthful, passionate, accountable and steadfast leader with passion for peace, unity and development of his state and Nigeria.
The First Gombe State peace and security summit is historic as it underscores the untiring efforts of the present administration of Governor Yahaya towards the protection of lives and property of the citizenry.
Speaking while declaring open the Summit, Governor Yahaya said the peace and security summit convened by his administration will provide an opportunity for security personnel, government officials and other strategic stakeholders in the maintenance of law and order to aggregate and explore pressing internal issues with a view to identifying new security and community pathways of mitigating them for lasting peace and stability.
He further stated at the Summit with the theme “Mitigating Contemporary Security Challenges for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development”, that given the theme of the summit and the calibre of resource persons invited as well as its participants, the summit will chart a new direction for mitigating internal security matters not only here in Gombe State but in the country as a whole.
According to him: “We are all aware that our dear country is passing through a delicate period of
immense security and economic challenges and risks. Criminal elements all over the country are united in their determination to threaten our common values, destroy our means of livelihood and make life brutish and miserable for our people. Since the year 2010, our gallant security forces have been battling to contain a brutal insurgency waged by the Boko Haram terrorists in Borno which rapidly spread to other states in the North-East, North-Central and North-West subregions. Although the collective efforts of our men and women in uniform have succeeded in stopping the bombing campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgents, the colossal human and economic damage caused to our communities is still with us”.
He noted that while the country was struggling to arrest the menace of Boko Haram in the North-East, another security threat in the form of rural banditry, emerged in some parts of North-Central and North-Western Nigeria with significant impact on human and the economic well-being.
The Governor observed that the violent conflict which is majorly fuelled by climate change, population growth, proliferation of small arms and light weapons and ethnicity has equally pave the way for banditry and kidnapping which has since reached an alarming proportions in many states of the federation.
Yahaya said although the present security situation in the country is generally precarious, Gombe State is relatively secure and peaceful.
He said: “For instance, if we take a look at the Nigeria Security Tracker published monthly by Eons Intelligence (A reputable Risk and Security Consulting Organisation), Gombe State recorded the least incidences of killings, kidnapping and other violent crimes during the first quarter of this year (2022) – thanks to the combined efforts of our security agencies and other relevant stakeholders.
“However, it is imperative to note that Gombe State is not immune and insulated from happenings in other parts of the country. We have our own share of local security threats fuelled by political thuggery, youth restlessness and unemployment which led to the emergence of the notorious Kalare group. The proliferation of local militia groups therefore calls for a proactive approach in dealing with these emerging threats and applying local strategies for tackling them”.
Yahaya said his administration was able to contain the menace of political thuggery and youth restiveness to the barest minimum through the combined efforts of the political class, security agencies, community, religious and traditional institutions.
“It is in this regard that we established the Gombe State Security, Traffic and Environmental Corps (GOSTEC) were we aim to employ not less than 2000 youths with the first batch of 500 corps already engaged to support the statutory agencies in the state in maintaining law and order. This home grown initiative is aimed at harnessing the energies of our youths in state building in line with our human capital development initiative”.
He said in order to consolidate on this gains, his administration is collaborating with the relevant security agencies to launch a special security task force to be named as Operation Hattara with the purpose of reinforcing security architecture in and around Gombe State.
“As you are all aware, soon after I was sworn-in as Governor, I established the first Ministry of Internal Security and Ethical Orientation in order to provide an institutional framework at the state level to support Federal Government Security Agencies, while also providing a framework for proactive resolution of conflict. I am delighted that our decision to establish the Ministry is yielding great results, as evidenced by the decreasing rates of violent crimes and conflicts in the state”
“To further strengthen our security and crime prevention system, we introduced new mechanisms for informal intelligence gathering and established the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre at Boltongo for regular training of our youth on informal intelligence gathering and early warning indicators. Similarly, we increased the level of involvement of traditional authorities in dispute resolution and security management in their communities. We also established security committees with dedicated telephone lines for reporting security breaches and potential threats by members of the public. Furthermore, I appointed and empowered 3 Security Advisers, one each from the Military, Police and Intelligence Service backgrounds to achieve greater cooperation and collaboration between the government and federal security agencies”.
The Governor remarked that for these measures to lead to lasting peace and security, his administration established and sustained an effective partnership between the security agencies and the public.
“To develop this partnership, it is critical that we gain the support, understanding and cooperation of strategic stakeholders in the state. Also important is building a consensus between strategic security stakeholders and the security agencies on both preventive actions and how to respond to crime situations. It is my candid hope that this summit will recommend practical steps to be taken to achieve all these Thus, your inputs, experiences and suggestions are really important to both achieving the objectives of this Security and Peace Summit and to improving our internal security management system generally”.
Keynote speaker and Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba Alkali, observed that the theme of the Security Summit “Mitigating Contemporary Security Challenges for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development” would not have come at a better time when the country is battling with security challenges in all fronts.
He said the Gombe State peace and security Summit is equally coming at a critical time when the Nigerian Police Force under his leadership is working towards deepening the engagement of the concept of community partnership in crime control.
According to him, the policy strategy seeks to address security challenges through active citizens engagement in the identification, analysis and mitigation of threats.
Alkali said community engagement like the Gombe State peace and security summit by the state government falls perfectly within the framework of the vision of community policing.
“To this extent the Nigerian Police Force conveys its full and wholehearted support to the Government of Gombe State under the leadership of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya for the vision in convening this strategic summit”.
After exhaustive discussions of the current security situation, the issues and challenges as well as the strategies being employed to address them, the Summit strongly commended the Government of Gombe State for convening the important summit at this crucial moment of our nation’s history.
It resolved that the various initiatives of the state Government such as the establishment of Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, Boltongo, the creation of GOSTEC are timely and commendable steps that could help further strengthen the current security arrangements in the state.
In particular, the summit applauded the government’s zero tolerance approach to the issue of political thuggery and other social vices (perpetrated by the dreaded Yan Kalare thugs) which culminated into the launching of the security initiative code named “Operation Hattara”. The summit called on the operation to take advantage of the findings and resolutions of the summit especially in terms of compliance with law and order.
The Summit noted that while the present security situation in the state is relatively stable and calm, there are sporadic events of real security concern which need to be nipped in the bud before they escalate to constitute significant security threats. These challenges include cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom, political thuggery and gang violence, communal disputes and conflicts.