By Brendan Umoren
Northern group, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has lamented that the region is under threats of bandits.
It said while the region still lives under Boko Haram’s threats, large swathes of territory in the North have effectively become bandits’ land.
The forum’s chairman and convener, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, stated these while addressing a news conference on behalf of the group in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The forum, therefore, demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should demonstrate higher levels of concern and sensibility to the plight of traumatised citizens, especially in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Plateau and Taraba states.
Abdullahi said: “Today, the North still lives under horrendous Boko Haram threats, a situation which has been aggravated by threats of banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, marauding youth gangs, herders and farmers mini-wars, and seemingly overwhelmed or indifferent governments.
“Large swathes of territory in our region are now effectively bandits’ land. Agriculture, our pride and national economic comparative advantage, the greatest employer of labour and leading contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product is in ruins as animal husbandry, and crops and roots farming are in the throes of war and damage.
“Our rural folk live in perpetual fear of attacks from sundry terrorist assailants without any reprieve. Our major highways and transportation systems are being abandoned as they have become death traps.
“We see in all these the cumulative effect of a region whose economy and people, especially the youth, have been abandoned. A dangerous youth bulge is indeed a recipe for crime, violence and wars. We understand that poverty and under-development can create a brutish and violent society.
“Nigeria has just emerged from a very challenging and harrowing set of elections. This experience should provide a strategic turning-point in the manner that political leaders respond to our basic national challenges.”
Abdullahi added: “We hereby demand that President Buhari demonstrates higher levels of concern and sensitivity to the plight of traumatised citizens in the country, especially in the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and virtually the entire North.
“We demand for decisive, comprehensive and fundamental governmental action against poverty, under-development and insecurity.
“Above all, we demand that President Buhari shows leadership and compassion, which are the reciprocal expectations of the Nigerian people from their President.
“Should the citizens of the most populous black and African country and blessed with bounteous human and material resources be running away from bandits and criminals and become entangled in a causative web of crime, poverty, misery and under-development?
“Without justifying the emigration of our people to other lands, we now see how and why our young men and women seek escape to Europe across the Sahara Desert to pursue menial jobs. We now painfully see how desperate Nigerians running away from home, become victims of xenophobic attacks in some countries.