By Henry Umoru
ABUJA ‚ÄîGovernors of the 19 Northern states, yesterday regretted that President Goodluck Jonathan has not punished those who allegedly stole the nation‚Äôs oil money, warning that the situation portends danger for the country.
Speaking when the Ambassador Ibrahim Zakari-led Committee on reconciliation, healing and Security set up by the Northern governors to find out the causes of insecurity in the region, submitted its final report, the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum and Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu also asked the Federal Government to explain what it was doing with the oil subsidy money against the backdrop that there were no marked improvements at the petrol stations.
‚ÄúWhere is the subsidy money going into; we have been told that people collected money and go free? Today there is more thievery in the oil sector. If you catch one thief and you do not punish him, others will think that if they do the same thing, they will go scotfree,‚Äù he said.
Aliyu further decried the level of insecurity in the North, pointing out that the economy of the area had been crippled following incessant killings and wanton destruction of property in the zone and the problem was increasing because, ‚Äúwe have taken many things for granted.‚Äù
Aliyu then appealed to members of the Boko Haram sect to take the advantage of the Federal Government‚Äôs readiness for dialogue by accepting the peace initiative in the interest of the zone.
He said: ‚ÄúMembers of the insurgent group are called upon for immediate ceasefire, accept the offer made by the federal government and come forward for dialogue and eventual submission of arms.‚Äù
He also hailed the committee members for showing the courage to visit Borno and Yobe states, as part of its fact-finding efforts. He added: ‚ÄúIt was after your committee visited that other groups were emboldened to go.‚Äù¬† The governor who warned that governors as Chief Security Officers of their respective states must ensure that there was peace to enable them stay with the people after they must have served their various terms in office, assured the team that the 19 Northern governors as chief security officers of their states, ‚Äúwould look at your report, dissect it and implement your recommendations.‚Äù
The problem with the North
Meanwhile, the Northern States Governors‚Äô Forum Committee on Reconciliation, Healing and Security, NSCRHS, in its report submitted to the governors yesterday identified poverty, economic inequality, narrowing opportunities; illiteracy; ignorance; widespread impunity; injustice; disregard to rule of law; unequal access to political power, among identified groups, as some of the reasons for insecurity in the Northern states.
Other reasons include ownership and access to resources (land and territory), conflicts and unhealthy competition around ethnic and religious identities, among others.
Speaking while presenting the report, Ambassador Ibrahim who noted that the Committee was inaugurated August 22, 2012, disclosed that 140 memoranda, reports, White papers and position papers were received, stressed that the feeling of lack of respect, issues around appointments into traditional headship positions, the deterioration in personal and inter group relationships and widespread impunity also contributed to insecurity in the region.
Present at the presentation were governors of Niger, Bauchi,Adamawa, Katsina, Kwara, Kebbi, Kogi, Kaduna, Gombe, Acting Governor of Taraba and Deputy governor of Jigawa, as governors of Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau were absent.