*says humanitarian catastrophe in Zamfara State portends great danger to Nigeria’s national security
By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
While calling on the Senate to ensure that the N10 billion Naira sponsored by Senator Kabiru Marafa for the creation of an intervention fund in the 2019 Budget for the victims of Zamfara crisis is speedily released, the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) has appealed to the Federal Government to set up a presidential Initiative for the state.
AYF expressed this in a statement signed by its National President, Alh. Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, made available to newsmen in Kaduna on Monday. “Also, another critical part of the motion was the fact that the Federal Government was urged to set up an ad-hoc committee to be known as the Presidential Initiative of Zamfara State (PIZAMS), which seeks to cater for the humanitarian crisis in the area.
“The N10b is intended to among other things, assist in resettlement of the IDP’s and other persons affected by the activities of armed banditry, cater for their needs, provide shelter, water, basic education, health care (especially the wounded, children and rape victims) and others.
“It is in this regard that the Arewa Youth Forum ( AYF ) fervently urges President Muhammad Buhari to, as a matter of strategic national interest to expedite the setting up of the Presidential Initiative on Zamfara State (PIZAMS), which should have a ten-year life span to manage the said fund and subsequent allocations and donations,” it said.
The group said that it is greatly concerned over the incessant and prevailing security situation in the North West particularly Zamfara State, prompting it to as a matter of utmost urgency, intervene in finding a lasting solution.
“It’s worrisome that the present situation of incessant and barbaric killings, maimings, kidnapping for ransom, rape, cattle rustling and wanton destruction of property and economic livelihood assets by devilish forces of evil and blood thirsty insurgents has reached an unimaginable and horrendous proportion in a region which was hitherto a peaceful and calm, called Northern Nigeria.
“Infact, hardly a day passes without such incidents occurring.
“Of great disturbance equally, is the fact that the lives of Nigerians in towns and villages within the zone are now completely at the mercy of armed marauding bandits, wrecking havoc at will which is negatively affecting the socio-economic activities of locals, inspite of intervention of security agencies,” AYF said.
It further said that in view of the state of affairs and pursuant to Arewa Youth Forum’s Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building (CMPB) Project, “we undertook a deep and holistic research aimed at finding out the root causes of the persistent security challenge, with a view of finding lasting and sustainable solution.
“Our preliminary findings showed that within eight (8) dark years only of Banditry in Zamfara State, a conservative figure of about eleven thousand (11,000) adult males that were bread-winners of their families were killed, leaving behind an estimated conservative figure of about twenty two thousand (22,000) widows (with at least two 2 wives to a person), and in another alarming breath, an estimated conservative figure of forty four thousand (44,000) orphans at an average of four (4) children to a deceased person. A very conservative estimate indeed for this figure could be a double or triple of this.
“It is worthy to note that in terms of frequency and the alarming casualty ratio, Zamfara State is ahead of many States in the Country that experiences security challenges, but alas, receives less prominence in terms of attention from mainstream media in terms of objective clarion call reporting, and most importantly, Federal Government’s attention based on recognition and intervention,” it noted.
They said that the humanitarian catastrophe in Zamfara State is very disturbing, horrible and portends great danger to Nigeria’s national security interests.
“Therefore, to compliment the ongoing process of security operations across-board, there is a need, for an urgent and strategic solution, which is to target one of the key breeding grounds of banditry in the North-West, Zamfara State, and give it the required attention it deserves.
“The orphaned children, due to their dire situation of pain, trauma, depression, lack of care, hunger, abject poverty-stricken life, helplessness of their widowed mothers to fill the gaps as created by an unforeseen situation left by their deceased fathers, lack of compassion from society from whom they expect succur and compassion but feel ignored, will undoubtedly, become easy prey and willing tools in the hands of criminal elements that pays them pittance and recruit them.
“Unfortunately, due to their huge number, these recruited orphans that become bandits due to hopelessness in life, have added to the number of this marauding criminal elements. Hence, Banditry has now spread into neighboring States with whom Zamfara State share borders, namely, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, and now, Nasarawa State.
“We must therefore realise, in view of the reasons adduced above that their number is vastly growing by the day. Hence, we are indeed sitting on a Volcano of Humanitarian and security challenges brewing and about to erupt with a looming consequences . God forbid! The time to act is Now!
“Consequently, based on the benefit of hindsight, we recall a visionary, sincere and sustainable solution aimed at tackling this challenge in Zamfara State; and this is the motion, which was sponsored by Senator Kabiru Marafa for the creation of an intervention fund of N10b in the 2019 Budget for the victims of Zamfara crisis, which the Nigeria Senate approved. Unfortunately, the fund is yet to be released.
“Also, and most critical, we call on the Senate, especially those from Zamfara to make sure that the approved N10bn fund becomes a reality, and it’s made available for, it is in our collective national self interest to fast track the implementation of what the fund is set to achieve.
“Equally, Senators and other members of the House of Representatives, as well as other major stakeholders need to push for the implementation of this initiative which has an over riding national security interest. For we must, at all times ensure unity of purpose, determination and action for sustainable peace, security and national development. As humans posterity is there to judge us either we do it right or wrong,” the statement pointed out.