Zamfara governor decries lack of political will needed to fight banditry

The Governor of Zamfara State, Dauda Lawal, on Tuesday, expressed concerns that President Bola Tinubu was not adequately briefed on the severity of bandit operations in the state.

Following a meeting with the President on March 26, 2024, Lawal described Zamfara as the “center of banditry” in northern Nigeria and warned that the ongoing insecurity could destabilize the entire northern region if not urgently addressed.

In an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Lawal asserted that banditry could be eradicated within two weeks if the government showed true commitment.

“If you can take care of Zamfara today, believe me, you would have solved 90 percent of the banditry issue in northern Nigeria as a whole.

“If we are committed, if we are serious, we can take care of this situation within two weeks maximum. But the political will is not there,” Lawal said.

He criticised ongoing negotiations with bandits occurring without his knowledge, stating that such actions undermine state efforts to combat the crisis.

“While we are trying to take care of the situation, somebody, somewhere, somehow, behind our back, is negotiating with bandits as a governor of a state, without my knowledge.

“In Zamfara, there were a series of negotiations with these bandits but what happened at the end? Nothing. How does one even begin to negotiate at the point of weakness instead of at the point of strength? It is just a money venture kind of thing.

“When the situation got bad, I had to meet Mr President and complain one-on-one, and I told him the true situation of what Zamfara is facing in terms of security,” Lawal said.

He expressed doubts about whether the President was properly informed about the real situation on the ground, stating, “Based on the conversation we had, the answer is no. And I had to explain everything to him, what we are going through and what needs to be done.”

Lawal emphasised the strategic importance of addressing banditry in Zamfara, saying, “Zamfara state has become the hub of banditry in northern Nigeria.

“We are having challenges in the mining sector. Though mining has been banned by the FG and the states, the security outfit set up in the state is doing the best to address the situation in the state,” he said.

The governor also weighed in on the debate regarding state police, highlighting his lack of control over the military, police, and civil defence personnel.

This lack of authority, he argued, has left his administration powerless to effectively combat the bandits.

“In most cases, you get frustrated in terms of where you get help from,” Lawal said. “When you need these people, they will be nowhere to be found. And therefore the best thing to do is to set up that kind of security outfit. For us in Zamfara, they are doing well.

“There are a lot of political undertones in the security issues. Some of you find it difficult to come and say this but I know what we are going through. But like I said, sometimes you are helpless. When you need them, they are not there or even when they are there, they are given certain instructions on what to do and not to do. That is the true situation,” he added.

On education, the governor said, “For three years, our children in Zamfara did not write for the West African Examination Council exams. When we took over, the National Examinations Council owed #1.3billion and WAEC #1.6billion. We had to settle the bills for students to write the exams.”

Efforts to reach the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris and the President’s spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga proved abortive as they neither picked their calls or responded to the messages sent to them.

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