The chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, said Monday that masterminds of insurgency in the Northeast region have been identified as sponsors of the escalating banditry and kidnappings in Northwest and Southwest.
The governor said this while briefing State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said the President would soon approach the National Assembly for funds to procure more equipment for the armed forces to strengthen efforts to halt insecurity in the country.
The governor said his meeting with the President centred on a wide range of issues including economic and security concerns.
He said winning the war against insecurity would require more than just military operations.
He said besides making sincere effort to reach get to the roots of the various forms of security crises facing the country, there was the need for political will and political action by leaders to address the issues that led to insecurity in the first place.
He said some of the issues to be addressed include poverty, inequality snd social disconnection between leaders and the youth, which had rendered the youth available for derailing tendencies.
While commending the President for effective changes in the nation’s security architecture, the governor said that step alone would not automatically bring answers to the security questions until other required factors are combined with the military solution.
“Well, first of all, let me say that Mr. President has taken the right step in changing the leadership of the security services. I, as you would recall, was one of those speaking on behalf of my colleagues that argued for that to happen. So I think the President has done the right thing.
“We never suggested, even at the time we were arguing for a change of guard in the leadership, that that was going to be an automatic transformation of the security situation, simply on account of change of leadership. We were not that naive to think that would happen, however, precisely because there’s been a change, you can see that there is also a concerted effort.
“Two or three days ago, all the service chiefs came together to issue a statement that we are accountable to our Chief of Defence Staff, that’s a very significant position to take because we know what has been the source of inter-service rivalry in our military, which then tends to affect performance on the field, where the air force does not communicate with the army and yet they’re supposed to be involved in the same war against insurgency.
“So the fact that there is unanimity and they are trying to speak with one voice, I believe that’s a significant step in boosting the morale of the men on the field and the efforts that they’re taking to go round, audit the equipment, audit the situation of their men is also going to help to improve the condition of the security services.
“I can tell you, and I don’t think I’ll be breaching any confidence, that one of the good news I came away with, from the President now on this issue is that he’s already informed the National Assembly that they will be receiving a special request from him on procurement of equipment on an accelerated basis for our security services because that was one of the issues that we put before him and he was very categorical that yes, we have a point.
“Some of the equipment that had been procured are on the way, they haven’t arrived, but they will soon arrive. There is also a need to buy more equipment and he is going into government-to-government partnership with a number of countries and that would necessitate an accelerated clearance from the National Assembly.
“What I’m saying in essence is they’ve been able to assess their situation on coming to that office and they made a very honest assessment of what’s on ground, which is militating against their effective clearance of the insurgents and that’s something that will happen.
“Having said all of that, I also don’t think we’re naive enough to think that it’s simply a military action that will resolve all these security challenges. They have root causes and the root causes require political will, political action on our part against poverty, against inequality, against the disconnections between our youth and the government because these are some of the things that have pushed younger people into harm’s way and into becoming cannon fodder for those who don’t have the interest of our country at heart and I ready to destroy the country.
“There is a direct correlation, I’ve said this to you before, between insurgency in the Northeast, and what we’re seeing manifesting itself as banditry in the Northwest, or kidnapping in the Southwest. Some of the people involved in these are also the ones responsible for insurgency.
“They are using the resources that they make from kidnapping for the activities that they’re conducting in the Northeast. So we need to take a comprehensive look at all these things and not treat them in compartments. We must treat them as a comprehensive issue and then tackle them collectively”, he said.