North West Governors security symposium: a strategic and broad spectrum approach.

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.

North West and North Central Governors in the country, were invited by The Africa Centre at the United States Institute for peace, to a symposium on peace and security in Northern Nigeria. They have however come under fire for attending to such an invitation. The usual and predictable fire is from non other than a PDP chieftain, Alh. Sule Lamido, who issued a statement berating the Governors who are mostly APC Governors with the exception of Plateau and Zamfara State Governors. It is understandable that the remark is coming from the ‘new’ opposition party even if it is unreasonable. I’m certain that those remarks wouldn’t have been made, were the Governors to come largely from the PDP. We are all living witnesses to the decadence in governance brought about by the 16 years of PDP misrule in the country. 8 years on, we are dealing with the hubris of the erstwhile ruling party’s waste that had plundered the nation’s resources, leaving no tangible infrastructural development. The terrorism that has bedeviled the country was infact ‘birthed’ during the PDP years, waxing stronger, subsuming an entire region of the country. If any, the lasting legacy of the PDP years is the terrorism the country is battling to rescue itself from, while deploying the meagre resources available for developmental projects across the country. Berating Northern Governors for standing up for their region is mere opposition politics. The criticism failed to properly comprehend the workings of the symposium, its depth and content, and the benefits therein.

The Africa Centre for Peace in the United States, invited the Governors to build their capacity in conflict prevention and peace building. The United States Centre seeks to empower Governors to address the underlying causes of instability and to strengthen peace building initiatives at local and state levels. They would be engaged by panelists that will focus on insecurity drivers and opportunities for stabilisation. The symposium would deepen their understanding of the complex security landscape, identify the strategies to address the challenges and explore opportunities for sustainable peace and development in the region. The United State’s Centre for Peace is also hosting special panels in the symposium that would focus on strengthening commercial business and two way trade between Nigeria and the US. This will explore collaborative efforts between the governors, Nigerian civic groups, private businesses and the international community to attract investments, generate employment and foster economic development.

The criticisms that have come against the symposium are totally misguided, as they did not reflect on the objective of the symposium and its actual content. The critics actually misunderstood the broad spectrum approach the symposium is bringing to the issues that have destabilised the region. Critics have taken a dig at the symposium as if it were a ‘military exercise’ for the Governors, citing security as being on the exclusive legislative list, and concluding that the NSA ought to have hosted the symposium at NIPSS Kuru. The symposium is working on the root causes of the insecurity situation we have found ourselves in, and the deployment of multifaceted approaches towards curtailing the menace. It is emphasising on the need to bolster the economic well-being of the region as panacea to insecurity. The symposium is availing the Governors with networks of partnerships in the international community including private business investors and other development partners, with whom they can work with. The symposium is working on the carrot approach, also known as The non-kinetic strategy of fighting insecurity. There is nothing that will advance the security stability of the North, better than the economic stability of the region, and that is the crux of the matter – which the symposium seeks to address.

Ofcourse the kinetic or fire-power approach across the country is yielding results. In the last 8 months, more than 1,000 kidnap victims have been released. Thousands of terrorists have been annihilated across the war theatres from the North East to the North West, with no less than 20 notorious bandit kingpins killed. The Governors of Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto have put together community/ vigilante Corps to fight the insecurity in their states, which is being replicated across all the States. States like Katsina and Niger have gone as far as procuring Armored Personnel Carriers to advance their fight against terrorism. The collaborations between the vigilantes and the Nigerian State Security forces have been commended, with the Police and the Army extoling the gallantry of the community guards. So numerous steps are being taken towards advancing peace in the North, aside the recently attended symposium.

A report by TRT-Africa, a renown global broadcast network, in its evaluation of the symposium, has said that there is nothing abnormal about the symposium attended by the Governors, as they have been equipped with very revealing International surveillance reports about the insecurity bedeviling the Northern part of the country. The US has army and naval bases in all of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries and spends a lot of money in intelligence gathering among other warfare expenditures. Dr. Abdullahi Yelwa, an expert on security and conflict resolution has also re-iterated the benefits of such a symposium, stating that it is a critical step towards understanding and resolving the insecurity situation in the North. The symposium has equipped the Governors with a variety of solutions and options that if properly deployed, can bring an end to the insecurity challenge. Criticising them for thinking outside the box and seeking alternative solutions to the problems in their region is definitely a disservice to a joint and committed effort by the Governors.

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