…Says APC must work hard to lift Nigerians out of poverty
By Godwin Amunde
The Director General (DG) of the Progressive Governors Forum, (PGF) – an umbrella body of Nigerian governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Salihu Lukman, has expressed deep concern over the rising profile of insecurity in the country, saying the situation is no longer acceptable to most Nigerians.
In a statement he issued in Abuja on Monday titled: ‘Poverty and existential problems of Nigeria’, the PGF DG lamented that with the efficiency at which abduction of school children are successfully been executed, the population of criminals working as bandits, kidnappers and abductors is growing more than the number of police and security personnel in the country, and stressed the need for community policing as a means of checkmating the menace of rising security challenges in the country.
Part of the statement reads: “Being members of APC with all the commitment to contribute to the success of the party, we need to tell ourselves the hard truth, which is that an important determinant of return to peaceful coexistence and moving Nigeria forward under the leadership of our party is dependent on the capacity of our governments to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
“Therefore, we need to engage the disturbing issue of high levels of poverty in Nigeria beyond the narrow prism of politics. Outside the simplistic strategy of promoting our political choices, it is equally important that we wake up to the reality that high levels of poverty have produced really unimaginable existential threats both for citizens and for the nation. Daily, lives are being lost, individual liberties and freedoms are under permanent threats, properties and livelihoods are being destroyed. Every Nigerian today lives with the fear of one form of threat or the other. The North East has been ravaged by Boko Haram for more than 10 years. The problems of banditry and kidnappings are gradually taking over the North West and North Central.
“Since 2010, peaceful life has eluded us in the country, more so in the North. Problems of suicide bombings, kidnappings and banditry are now very common. High casualty rates, including loss of human lives no longer shock Nigerians. In February 2014, 59 innocent school children of Federal Government College Buni Yadi, Yobe State were killed by Boko Haram insurgents. This was closely followed by the abduction of 276 secondary schoolgirls of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State in April 2014. In February 2018, 110 students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College Dapchi, Yobe State were similarly abducted. Cases of abduction of school children have become frequent. In December 2020, close to 500 schoolboys of Government Science Secondary School Kankara, Katsina State were abducted. In February 2021, it became the turn of 18 passengers of Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA). Few days after, 27 schoolboys and 15 others were abducted from Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State. The most recent is the abduction of 317 girls of Government Science Secondary School of Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021.
“We may delude ourselves into all the debate based on the reckless consideration of amnesty and divisive ethnic and religious propaganda. The reality is that criminal activity of banditry; kidnappings and abduction of innocent school children are emerging to be very lucrative economic activities in the country. It is now a sophisticated business network with frontend that may involve people and institutions that are least suspected. For instance, how is it possible that tens and hundreds of people would be abducted without any trace? Wouldn’t they pass through towns, villages and communities? Along the routes they passed, wouldn’t there be police and security posts/stations, traditional and religious leaders that could confirm suspicious movements?
“And with all these sad reality of our existential threats in the country, which is destroying our educational sector, we are debating whether we should have state police or not. Anybody debating whether or not to have state police is simply part of the problem.
“How many private securities are guarding our homes? With all that is happening to our schools, isn’t it a case that requires the establishment of armed police station in each school to guarantee the safety of our children? Can this be provided by the Nigeria Police as it is constituted today? Isn’t this a challenge requiring emergency response? How can the lives of school children be so threatened, and we are busy debating politics?
“Our leaders in APC must wake up and stop all the hesitation around consideration of the APC True Federalism Report. Why was the Committee setup in the first place if our leaders knew that they are not committed to resolving problems that question what we have today? Isn’t it a common knowledge that no problem can be solved by replicating exactly what may have created the problem?
“While it may be tempting on account of our divisive politics to imagine that we can resolve our problems based on strategies that merely reproduce old initiatives in different forms, we need to strongly appeal to our leaders, especially President Buhari to recognise the fact that our national situation is no longer acceptable. All the indices suggest the high possibility that most Nigerian children are potentially either criminals or abductees. Nigeria is fast losing its capacity to produce skillful, innovative, resourceful, entrepreneurial and industrious citizens.
“Given the efficiency with which abduction of school children are successfully being executed, it would appear that the population of criminals working as bandits, kidnappers and abductors is more than the number of police and security personnel in the country. With the alleged collaboration of security personnel, traditional and religious leaders in the business of kidnapping, banditry and abduction in the country, the only safe person is probably a kidnapper, bandit, abductor or their collaborators.
“These being the case, how can any military and security strategy alone successfully end the problem of banditry, kidnapping, abduction and insurgency? Military and security strategy would remain a mirage and resource drainpipe so long it is not combined with effectively implemented ambitious strategy to lift Nigerians out of poverty.
“As Nigerians and especially those of us who are members of APC, we must work hard to push our leaders to combine military and security strategy with successful implementation of ambitious national initiative to lift Nigerians out of poverty. Our loyalty to our leaders must, as necessity, include getting our leaders to succeed in lifting Nigerians out of poverty. That is perhaps the only insurance cover that can support us to begin to move towards peaceful coexistence in the country.
“So long as we have Nigerians living in conditions of extreme poverty, crime rates, including banditry, kidnapping and abduction of innocent school children will remain high. Reducing this challenge to issues of enforcement of law and order alone will be insufficient. The factory that produces bandits, kidnappers, abductors and insurgents is the very condition that holds more than 100 million Nigerians below the poverty line.”