Northern leadership and elites have been told to stop living in denial and join hands in on-going efforts to find home-grown solution to the rampaging banditry in the region.
The former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS) Prof. Usman Yusuf, gave the charge while featuring in a Liberty Television flagship programme: ‘Dialogue“.
Prof. Usman, who is among those that accompanied a renowned Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, to the bandits’ enclaves in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi States to encourage them to embrace peace, also said the military option will not solve the problem.
While narrating a horrific and precarious experience at the bandits’ camps visited in the forests, Prof. Yusuf maintained that though there are few foreigners amongst the bandits, a significant percentage of them are native pastoralists who have suffered years of neglect.
He said if genuinely and sincerely engaged, the bandits are willing to lay down their arms for peace to prevail. He attributed the failure of similar peace deals initiated by some State governments in the North-West in the past to the inability to implement the agreements reached with the bandits.
Reacting to recent eviction of herders and the attack on their settlements in some southern States, Prof. Yusuf warned leaders against inciting the public that could lead to ethnic profiling and cleansing, which has long-term consequences, citing the Liberian and Rwandan experiences.
He tasked leaders, especially of Northern extraction, to explore and implement modern initiatives that will transform livestock production and its value-chain as panacea to addressing the existential problem.