As a way of finding lasting solutions to the spate of violent attacks and kidnapping unleashed on the nation by bandits, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, have advised the Federal Government to put in place “a comprehensive programme that will educate the bandits and give them the necessary skills and capital to remain on their own.”
Solutions to banditry, they emphasized, must involve ‘stick and carrot’ approach.
Bandits who refuse to repent despite such government efforts should then “be hit hard.”
These were contained in a communique jointly signed by Obasanjo and Gumi at the end of their over three-hour meeting on Sunday.
The Eagle Online recalls that Sheikh Gumi has been meeting with bandits ostensibly in his efforts to end their aggression against the nation.
Obasanjo, according to the communiqué, encouraged the cleric “not to relent in his efforts.”
The two men also noted that the menace of banditry, kidnapping and other crimes leading to general insecurity is a nationwide phenomenon; but that it is not localized to people from a single tribe or religion.
“We identified the crisis as micro ethnic conflict between the Fulanis and many host communities mainly in the North-West; we identified the remote causes as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians,” the communiqué read.
Both men said the Federal Government must be proactive, and have common policy for the nation, adding that it “is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them.”
They also agreed on the need for the local authorities, state and federal government to work together to solve the problem of the 14 million people of school going age that are out of school.
“Government should create a comprehensive programme that will not only educate the bandits but to give them the necessary skills and capital to remain on their own.
“Killing of innocent Northerners in the South must stop to prevent reprisals that can put the country in flames.
“Those that are not ready to repent after the government effects such recommendations should be hit hard, and unlawful carrying of arms must be punished,” the communiqué read further.
Both men also agreed to continue to work together to ensure lasting peace in the country.