By Kabir Kajuru, Kaduna
Governors of the 19 northern states and the Northern Traditional Rulers Council on Monday met in Kaduna regarding growing insecurity in the region.
Organisations present at the meeting include, the Northern Governors’ Forum, Northern Traditional Rulers Council, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum and others.
Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum and Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima said, north which is ‘Nigeria’s most thriving region’, has literally conspired against itself to be reduced to the laughing stock of the world.
While the Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III said, hatred among northerners and the attendant violence are preached from places of religious worship, which he described as sad and worrisome to the traditional institution.
Shettima in his welcome address to the first ever joint meeting of the Northern elites said, Northern Nigeria today is blighted by a deadly insurgency, rural armed banditry, cattle rustling, ethnic and religious conflicts, the underlying causes of which are poverty, illiteracy, social exclusivity and severely limited economic opportunities.
The governor said, the core challenges in the region revolve around intolerance, absence of peaceful coexistence, poverty, illiteracy and lack of unity.
According to him, “Governors of the 19 Northern States do recognize, respect and cherish the fact that while others serve for certain periods, traditional rulers mostly make lifetime commitments to the service of our communities. This naturally make Your Royal Highnesses very significant stakeholders in the affairs of Government across the 19 Northern States.
“Even more crucially, it gladdens the heart to note that our traditional rulers have sustained the time tested and noble tradition of championing the causes of their people. To cite one example, only last week, His Royal Highness, the erudite Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi ll spearheaded the thought provoking debate surrounding the significance of the education of the girl-child and how it can positively impact the progress, development, prosperity, peace, security and stability of the North and, by extension, Nigeria.
“This very fundamental debate bordering on the educational backwardness, pervasive poverty and underdevelopment as well as persistent insecurity of Northern Nigeria should not only form the underlying basis for holding this extraordinary meeting but must continue, in our enlightened self-interest as leaders, to perpetually preoccupy our our thoughts, plans, programmes and actions.
“Managing multiculturalism and heterogeneity is a major challenge and indeed a litmus test for leadership, good governance and progress not just in Northern Nigeria but in the entire global society. However, as leaders of government, traditional rulers and community as well as religious leaders we must to unite to tackle the challenges that stare us in the face.
“Like all the Northern Governors acknowledge, development is not just about building roads, bridges, houses or what we refer to as infrastructure and the provision of social services. Yes, these are very important, but then, there are pro-social livelihoods, peace and good life which are the fundamental attributes of meaningful existence.
“Our core challenges in the North today revolve around intolerance, absence of peaceful coexistence, poverty, illiteracy and lack of unity. How can we address these critical concerns? We, the 19 Governors of Northern States believe that a gathering of some of the key leaders of the North, is more than able to provide solutions to our problems. As Governors, we are more determined than ever, to sincerely walk the talks generated from this important meeting.
The Sultan of Sokoto in own remarks said, “We at the Northern Traditional Rulers Council are very worried and sad with the situation of insecurity in the north, especially the happenings in Southern Kaduna, kidnapping, cattle rustling, the state of IDPs in the North East in particular and other parts of the country.
“We are more worried with the usage of places of religious worship to preach hatred, violence and other issues that tend to divide us, rather than strengthen our unity as a people created by one God.
“We believe, one of the numerous reasons why violence continue to thrive in our midst is the impunity the is allowed to thrive in our midst. Nobody is punished for criminal doings they commit.
“We are therefore strongly supporting more measures taken and to be taken by Governors of the Northern States, especially the Governor of Kaduna State.
“We must all strive to achieve lasting peace in the north in particular and the whole country in particular.