What Northern govs must take against insurgency
Reverend Yakubu Pam was recently re-elected as the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the 19 Northern states and Abuja, at its delegates’ conference in Kaduna. In this interview with ISAAC SHOBAYO, the Northern chairman speaks on his plan and the insurgency rocking the northern part of the country. Excerpt:
You have just been re-elected as the chairman of Northern CAN, what are your plans of action for the next three years?
I want to thank God, who gave me the opportunity to serve the first tenure without any hitch and my team for cooperation, dedication and selfless they rendered to make the first three years a huge success. We were returned because people were very happy with what I did in the first tenure. Before we arrived the venue of the election in Kaduna, the news was that there was no person contesting with me; they felt I should just continue. I want to thank my executives who teamed up with me and gave me an eventful first tenure in office.
We would still raise all the issues that are yet to be resolved, particularly persecution of Christians, and their right of worship; this is very rampant in the north. We have raised the issue severally and we will continue to talk about it until the matters are resolved. We must have the right of worship like Christians in the Southern part of the country, whereby we would not be denied certificate of occupancy. We also need protection because whatever happened is often turned into religious crisis where churches will be destroyed. We must have the privileges of citizenship because we are part of Nigeria, there is no need for intimidation in any form, we pray that the authority, especially governors in the North will need to look into our issues. I am also using this opportunity to call on the Federal Government to intensify efforts towards releasing the remaining Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu.
They are very important to us, look at the joy that accompanied the release of the Nigerian Student that was released by the Saudi Authority, following the intervention of the Nigeria government. We are still pleading with the authority concern to get the students released.
The Fulani herders and farmers clash is one of the issues the Northern CAN has placed before the President a long time ago. Our people are farmers; any time the raining season comes like this, they are always afraid to go to the farm. We strongly believe that there should be a permanent solution.
We are also talking to the farmers too that they should stop killing cows; we in CAN abhor reprisal attacks but the government too should look at the issue critically and proffer lasting solution to this menace. Criminality is increasing, the rate crime in a the north is frightening, we have never seen this before, kidnapping is becoming the order of the day in the North, criminals have almost hijacked security system, they are part of the security now, therefore we should be able to put our house in such a way that we would have the right of citizenship.
My leadership of Northern CAN would look into this and intensify efforts towards addressing them within the next three years. We would build a good relationship with good Muslim leaders to have a place where there is peace. Our governors in the north should create more jobs for the people because lack of employment has made the youths to go into criminalities, just for them to get what to eat. Once there is peace in the North, there would be development and investors would come in. I think it is very important for our governors to put their heads together and address the issue of insecurity once and for all.
Insecurity now pervade the North, there is the allegation that the government is not doing what it ought to do to arrest the current pathetic security situation. What is your assessment of the situation?
There is one thing the Federal Government should take cognizance of; our borders are porous, people walked into Nigeria these days without being challenged. They are so free that they constitute nuisance and threatening security of the country. I think the Federal Government should re-strategise with security agencies and take over our borders from these criminals. It is like we are not in control of our borders, we should know those who come in and go out. The army needs to sit up and do the needful and comb the forests the criminals are hibernating. I think by now the country ought to have secured these forests and completely take them over from these criminal elements. The question is how long will it take the military to take over the forest? Also they must work with the locals because the local people might not have gun but know what is happening within their localities. The Federal Government cannot achieve much without the assistant of the locals, so they should be able to give the military useful information that would help them deal with the situation.
What is your advice to Northern governors because there are claims that most of them don’t stay in their states, they are always in Abuja?
A leader must be able to make sacrifice if he wants to leave a legacy behind after his tenure. Any person aspiring to be governor must be able to know the challenges of his people and work out modalities on how to proffer solution to them. They should be able to ask themselves if their leadership is touching the people, though some of them are asking for state police, which is good but in the place of no state police for now. We have a lot of retired military and police officers that have experience, our governors in the North should bring them on board to proffer solution to the insecurity ravaging the North. My advice to every governor at this material time is that they should leave pleasure aside and face their work. To build our society we must make sacrifice, our governors actually need to sit up and stop gallivanting here and there.
Back home in Plateau State, there is renewed killings and destruction of properties, especially in Bassa local government, what is CAN doing to prevent escalation?
I have to cut short my journey to Dubai because of the development; I avoided comments because I need to get the fact of the matter. However, as a leader, I strongly condemn the incident; it is wrong for anybody to take the lives of anybody,.When I learnt about the killings, I was bitter about it. I also condemn the aspect of killing the cows because they were somebody’s investment. We come to understand that some people want us to continue in this way and all of us need to rise up as one to fight the senseless killings. I think security should go after those who carried out the dastardly act and bring them to book. Those responsible for the barbaric act must be arrested.
How much confidence do you have in Special Task Force (STF), as some people are saying they have overstayed and are constituting nuisance to the society?
They are doing a good job. Before, our people were complaining that they should go but when the worse happen they would say there is no security. So, you are left with the decision that it is better for the military to go or to remain despite their mistakes We have seen a situation whereby people change their story to suit their actions I think it is better they are there to stave off trouble, than to say they should go completely. If there is any complaint against them we always tell them, if they do anything that is against their mandate the people should speak out instead of telling them to go.