Governor Mohammed Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State said yesterday in Kaduna that the north lacked responsible leadership.
Matawalle, who only recently defected from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to All Progressives Congress, APC, also said the ruling elite had no vision for the region beyond gaining political power.
He equally warned that the war against banditry in the Northwest would remain a significant security challenge that had the potential to swallow the region and the country.
The governor, whose views were contained in a paper, titled “The Fight Against Banditry in Northwest Nigeria: Challenges and Solutions” at the inauguration of the new executives of Arewa Media Writers Association, said it was evident that the Northern leaders were responsible for the plight of the region.
Matawalle, who was represented by his Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Magaji, said when he took office on May 29, 2019, Zamfara State had already been mired in a serious security crisis for over a decade, in the form of banditry, livestock rustling, kidnapping, and a host of other crimes.
He explained that on a daily basis, the state was in the news for bloodletting, fire, pillage, and significant displacement of people, particularly those living in rural areas.
He said: “historical economic, social and cultural ties between the dominant communities of Fulani and Hausa were ruptured; farming activities across the state were halted, and commercial activities were crippled.
“With poverty on the increase and food security seriously affected by the crisis, the state was on the verge of a catastrophic social eruption capable of destabilising our communities and the northwest sub-region.
“Shinkafi and Zurmi local government areas are the hot spot of banditry, even though there is no mining activities going there.
‘’Rural banditry in Zamfara and other parts of the north, in my opinion, is a result of the progressive degradation of our moral standards and a culture of greed fed by an unfettered need for material goods.
“As shown in this presentation, the culture of cattle raiding by pastoralist groups is not something new. It was practised in the days gone by to demonstrate courage and bravery, and no violence was used.
‘’What we witness today, however, are horrible crimes unimaginable, which include rape, killings of women and children, kidnapping, highway robbery and other gruesome atrocities.
“It is evident, therefore, that we, the leaders, are responsible for the plight of the north. The north lacks responsible leadership to steer it through our time’s uncharted waters.
‘’Our ruling elite has no vision for the region beyond gaining political power. We have all seen how the elite in the south-east and southwest respond in unison to all matters concerning their regions’ development.
‘’We have seen how they have a defined agenda and are relentless in their pursuit of regional development.’’
Speaking on the challenges to peace efforts, the governor said his experience over the past two years had shown that the major challenges to the peace efforts were reluctance by the affected states to embrace peace dialogue, which would have deprived the recalcitrant bandits currently tormenting their people of safe corridors in the region.
“Also, there is lack of support from a section of politicians that wish to take advantage of the situation to achieve political ends and the need for the Federal Government to key into the peace initiative so that appropriate resources can be allocated.
“Unless we all wake up to the situation, the war against banditry in the northwest will remain a significant security challenge that has the potential to swallow the region and the country.
‘’The destruction that banditry is wreaking on the region’s people and economy is unfathomable.
“This is an appeal to leaders of the region to wake up from their lethargy and unite in combating this grave challenge.
We need to get to the roots of the situation, stop politicising it and act decisively,” he said.