GOVERNANCE AND SECURITY……By katsina state governor..Alhaji Aminu Bello masari
Full Text of the Lecture delivered by Governor Aminu Bello Masari, today, at the National Institute of Security Studies, Abuja.
GOVERNANCE, SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA: NEXUS, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS – THE KATSINA STATE EXPERIENCE
Let me begin this lecture by expressing my profound gratitude and appreciation to the organizers of this event for finding me worthy to deliver a lecture on “Governance, Security and Sustainable Development in Africa: Nexus, Challenges & Prospects – The Katsina State Experience”.
Distinguished Chairman of the occasion, permit me to highlight a little on the root causes of the security in the African continent, especially in our neighbouring countries and in some other African countries.
The fall of the regime of the then Libyan leader, Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi, the fallout event of the governments in Mali and Chad led to internal strife and rebellions which contributed negatively in escalating the menace of security challenges in the West African Sub-region.
In addition to all these, illiteracy, drug abuse, proliferation of illegal arms, cross-border migration, the illegal movement of people and other immigrants under ECOWAS Protocol, gave rise to illegal arms proliferation leading to rebellion, insurgency and armed banditry which have added impetus and rise of the problems of security challenges in Nigeria and other West African States.
Following these negative developments, some of the Nigerian neighbouring countries like Chad, Niger Republic and other African countries faced series of political turmoil and rebellion leading to loss of lives and property. These internal squabbles led to disruption of the services of government institutions, such as security and economic infrastructures.
The colossal loss of lives and property in the African countries due to ungoverned spaces and climate change gave rise to armed banditry affecting the Sub-Region. While some of the problems are ethnic, others are religious and criminal in nature (eg. Chad, Mali, Sudan and Nigeria). The rest of the crises could be described as a grand ploy designed specifically by external forces in cohort with the internal interests to destroy such countries.
EFFECTS OF INSECURITY IN AFRICAN COUNTRIES
Following the rise of insecurity in the Sub-region, productivity in agriculture, commerce, trade, social and political activities went down to their lowest ebb. Human lives became valueless, while destruction of public properties became the order of the day in the hands of these criminal elements.
Innocent women were raped, small children were rendered orphans and homeless, while School system is gradually being grounded to a halt. Under age children were captured and trained as bandits.
The fall of Gaddafi in Libya open the corridor for arms proliferation giving rise to stockpiling of arms by warlords, criminal elements and insurgents among others.
These proliferation of sophisticated illegal fire arms and ammunitions into wrong hands are the instruments being used to destabilize African states, economically, socially and politically.
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, based on the above factors, in the last one and a half decades, poverty, diseases, hunger, crimes as well as other social vices have risen monumentally in the African continent. These are all as a result of near break down of law and order due to possession of illegal fire arms by the criminal elements.
THE CASE OF KATSINA STATE
Mr. Chairman, distinguish participants, other invited guests, let me remind you that when we came into office in 2015, there were reported cases of security issues, including cattle rustling, armed banditry and other forms of crimes which were unknown and alien to our cultures. These social vices resulted into colossal loss of lives and properties as well as the displacement of so many people in rural communities.
These have greatly impacted negatively on the socio-economic activities in our society and resulted in crippling every sector of the economy. At the initial stage, 8 front line local governments that share border with the Rugu Forest faced these heinous activities.
The Local Governments are Jibia, Batsari, Safana Danmusa, Kankara, Faskari, Dandume and Sabuwa. At one instance, a particular despicable scenario was witnessed in which over a hundred useful lives were destroyed by these criminal elements.
Mr. Chairman, this situation goes with the repercussions that do not mean well for the collective well-being of the affected communities. It therefore creates insecurity which has the tendency to hamper the growth and productivity of the economy.
Regrettably, however, the loss of animals and crops have resulted into the depletion of household income and the communal resources of the rural communities who largely rely on farming, animal husbandry and cattle rearing for their sustainable economic development.
Therefore, the general implication of all these is that, in addition to colossal loss of lives, the situation lead to a sharp drop in the aggregate supply of organic protein and dairy products in the country.
EFFORTS BEING MADE BY KATSINA STATE GOVERNMENT
Worried and seriously disturbed by activities of these criminals, Katsina State Government took concrete steps to reduce to barest minimum these evil activities from the society and to restore lasting peace for the generality of our people.
In this regard, series of consultations were made among the various strata and the segments of the society to proffer solutions to these ugly situations. Consequently, the State Government mapped out effective strategies and blueprints in which joint security operations were formed in collaboration with security agencies which are solely funded by the government.
These have positively helped in dislodging the criminals from their hideouts in the dreaded forests and other enclaves in which thousands of rustled animals and cattles were recovered and returned to their rightful owners.
This strategy went on successfully, thereby reducing criminality across the State. Also as the joint security operations continued successfully, the government initiated the process of dialogue in the last quarter of 2016 with the suspected cattle rustlers through an all encompassing amnesty programme that engaged them fully on the need to repent and surrender their arms.
The peace initiative with the armed bandits went on smoothly thereby reducing the reported cases of cattle rustling and armed banditry until around 2019 when some attacks were reported in some frontline Local Government Areas.
The failure of the peace initiative may not be unconnected to the inability of some States neighbouring Katsina State to take appropriate actions to address the insecurity in their areas.
A Peace Summit was convened by the Inspector General of Police on 1st August, 2019 in Katsina, which facilitated discussions with representatives of the bandits from States in the North-West.
In addition to the above, I personally undertook a tour to Fulani Settlements and strong enclaves of bandits, deep in Ruga Forest from 4th to 9th September, 2019. During the tour, majority of the renowned bandits and Forest Commanders denounced armed banditry and accepted to embrace peace.
Similarly, the Security Committee of the Northern Governors’ Forum, which I chaired convened a meeting in Katsina from 25th to 27th October, 2019. The meeting which was attended by eleven (11) States discussed extensively and came up with viable recommendations to the forum towards addressing the security challenges in the region.
In addition to the above, the State Government secured an office accommodation for 17 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Katsina as well as the establishment of new Army Battalion in Malumfashi. Similarly, the State Government procured and donated 25No. Toyota Hilux vehicles to the Army and the Police. There is also a monthly release of N100.00million to the Security Agencies for logistics support and personnel allowances for the following:
Security Intervention and Security Surveillance programme;
Joint Security Operation Sharan Daji;
Operation Mesa (Army), etc.
In addition to this, forest patrol groups were formed comprising representatives of herdsmen and vigilante groups to assist the security agents in intelligence gathering and safeguarding the Rugu forest.
As part of long term strategies, the government purchased several operational vehicles for use by the vigilante groups and other members of security agencies. This is in addition to sustaining their monthly allowances and other incentives. In the same vein, Katsina State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government fashioned out effective blueprint to revive the Rugu forest for its optimal utilization by our people and to help in taming all forms of crimes being perpetrated by the bandits and other criminals.
The provision of social amenities in the forest which include access roads, clinics, schools, veterinary clinics, earth dams among others form part of the long term plans. Subsequently, the State Government constructed 10 Primary Schools and 10 clinics for the herdsmen.
Aside from these, the government went a little further to seek for an international support from the African Union Commission for the provision of infrastructure as well as development programmes to tame the restiveness of the bandits.
The Presidential Committee on Small Arms through the active support of ECOWAS and the European Union (EU) started the process of establishing Micro Finance Projects for the benefit of the repentant cattle rustlers, bandits and the affected communities who hitherto suffered negatively the menace of the societal vices.
One of the efforts of Katsina State Government in taming all forms of banditry has been the sustained funding of security agencies for their smooth operations in all nooks and crannies of the State. The government single handedly financed the joint security operations then code named “Sharar Daji” which comprised of the Nigerian Army, the Police, the DSS, the Civil Defence Corps, the Vigilante and the repentant herdsmen.
Similarly, there are other financial supports being rendered to the security agencies in carrying out ad-hoc special security joint operations as the demand arises.
Distinguish ladies and gentlemen, at this point, I want to make it categorically clear that the Government expends huge resources on monthly basis for the sustenance of peace and security in the front line local government areas affected by banditry and other crimes as well as for the remaining local governments that form the state.
Let me also put it on record that the huge resources spent to tackle insecurity in the last six years of our administration could have been positively used elsewhere in adding values to our people’s lives via the provision of sustainable development projects. But, alas, the challenges which come about as a result of insecurity have gulped our huge resources budgeted to ensure a lease of life to the people.
As the beehive of the activities of the bandits and other criminal elements continued unabated, monumental loss of lives and property were to some extent recorded and reported.
However, in the targeted communities, the killing of hundreds of innocent lives came into mind as well as the economic loss encountered in domestic food, cattle and livestock among others.
The movements of goods and other agricultural products nearly became impossible as a result of incessant attacks from the bandits and other criminals. In so many instances, farmlands and crops were either burnt or destroyed completely, thereby exposing people to famine and hunger.
ACTIONS TAKEN BY KATSINA STATE GOVERNMENT
Mr. Chairman distinguish Ladies and gentlemen, in Katsina State, various initiatives and actions have been formulated and implemented by the government to curtail the menace of Cattle rustling, armed banditry, kidnapping and other dreaded vices.
These include among others, community sensitization, community engagements, community policing, regular meetings with all the stakeholders in the security circle and amnesty programme which culminated into the success stories that have so far restored peace and normalcy.
Other strategies adopted by Katsina State Government to address the security challenges include domestication of security management through direct involvement of traditional rulers and other key stakeholders in local security management, establishment of Zonal Security Co-ordinating Centres in the three Senatorial Zones – Katsina, Funtua and Daura, establishment of Conflict Resolution Centres across the State, among others.
To consolidate the gains recorded in the fight against armed banditry and other crimes and following wide consultations with the Presidency and the Military top brass as well as other security agencies, the Federal Government deployed massive security forces to curtail the menace especially in the front line local government areas and in the border remote areas of Katsina State.
Score sheets now available to the government indicate that the troops continue to decimate the rising wave of insecurity and banditry in the target areas. These have been possible as a result of continued air raids and bombardments of their enclaves. Similarly, the ground troops help greatly in quelling the crises via reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, counter attacks, physical combats and open attacks at the door steps of the bandits.
Let me at this juncture praise the efforts of our gallant security officers and their leaderships for effectively doing the needful in degrading the strength of the bandits who have never given us a peace of mind.
On its part, Katsina State Government, will continue to do its best in ensuring that peace and normalcy return to the affected local government areas for life to pick up and economic propensity to come back as usual. This is to be done through the maintenance of the adopted security strategies as well as continued prayer by Ulamas and their followers.
In addition, concrete measures will continue to be implemented for the overall success of the effort in building confidence in the minds of the affected people in the areas worst hit by criminalities.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to note that the chunk of times, resources and energy consumed by the efforts in tackling the monumental crimes in the society could have been channeled elsewhere to properly be felt by the generality of the citizens. However, due to the importance of protecting the lives and properties of all citizens, government will continue to spend much to degrade and decimate the growth of criminals and criminalities across the State.
The efforts have been yielding positive results and will continue to remain so by offering support and cooperation to all those directly or indirectly involved in the fight against criminals across the State.
Distinguished participants, let me confirm to you that the 6.25 billion naira promised to Katsina State government by President Muhammadu Buhari for the Ranch Development Project is now in the state government account.
Katsina State Government initiated the project and approached the Federal Government for intervention to implement the project which involves the construction of feeder roads, slaughter houses, the provision of Solar Power Boreholes and Police Stations.
Similarly, the project consists of rehabilitation of existing infrastructure; such as Dams, Schools, Dispensaries, Veterinary Clinics, Stock routes and pasture development.
Under phase 1, the project will cover about seven thousand hectares of grazing land out of the 122,000 hectares at the Rugu forest. The ten (10) front line local government areas that are vulnerable to banditry and farmers/herders clashes earmarked for this intervention are Jibiya, Batsari, Kurfi, Dutsinma, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, Faskari, Sabuwa and Dandume.
Mr. Chairman, distinguish ladies and gentlemen, this is our perspectives as a government on governance, security, sustainable development, challenges and prospects in Africa; the Katsina State Experience.
Finally, I wish to call on the participants of this programme to use the Katsina State experience in charting out a new concept of security management through community collaboration and synergy as exemplified by Katsina State Government. This is based on the fact that the challenges we are facing are community based that require community based solutions in order to ensure sustainable development.
Thank you very much for listening.