The 36 States Governors are considering entering into dialogue with bandits and other criminal elements causing terror across the country.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said this when he and some members of the Forum paid a solidarity visit to the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, in Minna on Tuesday.
The visit followed the recent kidnap of students of Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State and abduction of 57 passengers on a Niger State Transport Authority bus within the state.
The abducted passengers have since been released.
Fayemi said: “We also need to explore other avenues side by side with whatever the security institutions are doing, if that means engaging in dialogue.
“We may not have a choice.
“We may have to do that.
“Anything to help us to deal with this immediate crisis and then to begin to address on a much more longer time basis the root causes of this social dislocation responsible for what we are witnessing all around us.”
Fayemi, who took time to commiserate with Bello had said before taking the position on engaging bandits and other criminals in dialogue: “We all feel your pain.
“We feel the fears and the anxieties of the good people of Niger State.
“This is not something that is uncommon.
“What happens here is not unique to you.
“You have been part of several delegations to Borno State to Katsina State, to Ogun State and to Oyo State.
“As a matter of fact, you were in Ogun State when the Kagara incident happened and you had to rush back home in order to attend to the challenge in Niger State.
“We don’t want to come here on a cycle of lamentation.
“That’s not our job.
“Yes, we want to be compassionate.
“Yes, we want to be sympathetic.
“We want to feel the pain of our people because our first responsibility as governors as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution is the security and welfare of our people, but we don’t want to lament because the citizens want us to fix the problem.
“Our people just want us to find a permanent solution to this cycle of violence, insurgence, banditry, criminality and brigandage in our country.”
Responding, Bello said: “Time has come for the federal authorities to key in and work with state governments so that we are able to provide adequate intelligence and find a lasting solution to this menace.
“We are state governors, but we all have our limitations when it comes to control of operations.
“We do not fully control the Army, Air Force or even the police.
“I agree we should hold dialogue, as bad as it seems.
“There is the need to look at the root causes and see how we can address them, but then, make no mistake, for those who have chosen the path of terrorism and do not show any sign of repentance, then the needful must be done.”
Other governors who accompanied Fayemi on the visit were Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.