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Zamfara: Negotiation with bandits yielding positive results – Report

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Zamfara

The Zamfara State Government has said its dialogue and peace deal with bandits in the area has recorded tremendous success.

According to the state, in the two years of Governor Matawalle’s administration, over sixty-two bandits repented and embraced the peace initiative.

This disclosure was made by the state’s Commissioner of Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara on Thursday, during a press conference.

According to him, the peace deal has also led to the release of over 2000 kidnapped victims through the help of the repentant bandits. 

The Commissioner also recalled that Governor Matawalle’s administration inherited the terrifying security challenges from the previous leadership of Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari, noting that the governor will not fold hands to watch his people being killed.

He said that for eight months, citizens of Zamfara have started to enjoy the gravy train of peace since the peace initiative was established, until recently when the atrocities of gunmen resurfaced in different states of the federation.

The commissioner further said the collaborative investigation of the state government and the Police Command showed that the recent attacks and kidnappings were being masterminded by some perfidious citizens who connived with the recalcitrant bandits to commit heinous acts against innocent people.

Below is the commissioner’s full statement 

Gentlemen of the press,

2. It pleases me to address you at this very day, this hour and this time. It’s a pleasure to inform you that the Government of His Excellency Hon. Bello Mohammed, MON Matawallen Maradun clocks 2-years in office as the Executive Governor of Zamfara State, come 29th May 2021.

3. Distinguished gentlemen of the press, I am pleased to inform you that since the day His Excellency took over the mantle of leadership of Zamfara state, Governor Matawalle has been up and doing to move Zamfara and its people forward.

4. The greatest challenge being faced by the administration of Governor Bello Matawalle was the lingering security problems inherited from the immediate past government of His predecessors Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar.

5. Before the coming of the present administration of His Excellency Dr Bello Mohammed Matawallen Maradun on May 29th 2019 as the Executive Governor of Zamfara state, Zamfara people were in a devastating state of dilemma and fear of the unknown due to rural banditry. Rampant killings, maiming, kidnapping, raping, vandalism and attacks became the order of the day.

6. From available records, over Two Thousand Six Hundred and Nineteen (2,619) people were killed between 2011 and 2019. This is in addition to the One Thousand One hundred and Ninety people kidnapped by the bandits. The records also show that the sum of Nine Hundred and Seventy Thousand (970,000,000) Million Naira was paid as ransom. While Fourteen Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy-Eight animals were rustled within the period. Over One Hundred Thousand (100,000) people were displaced from their ancestral homes.
7. However, with the coming of Governor Bello Matawalle Maradun, drastic measures were put in place to control the situation. The peace and reconciliation process undertaken by the government has yielded positive result.

BACKGROUND OF THE ARMED BANDITRY IN ZAMFARA STATE
8. Gentleman of the press, let me start by giving you a background to the rural banditry crisis in Zamfara state. The genesis of this conflict began with the killing of the most popular and highly respected Fulani leader in all the neighbouring states of Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kebbi, one Alhaji Ishe, of chilin village in Kuyambana district of Dansadau Emirate in Maru Local Government Area of the state on the 11th of April 2013. Since then, Fulani in the 3 states became aggrieved and aggressive against Hausa communities from where the Yansakai who did the killing emanate.

9. The crisis began to worsen by the day through waves of attacks against each other and a series of revenge continued unabated. With the hostilities between the Fulani and Yansakai, each decided to form a formidable group and structure, the Fulani as bandits and Hausa as Yansakai, leading to the drawing of a battle line between them with increasing waves of attacks and counter-attacks, killing scores of innocent people, destruction of valuables and burning down of houses and foodstuffs.

10. To further worsen the situation, the Fulani bandits began to establish camps and started recruiting informants and new members into the banditry even among the Hausa, as well as giving them training and weapons.

11. Due to untimely attention and necessary intervention, the situation further worsened with attendant consequences of mayhem being unleashed on innocent people across the state. Hence, the bandits were able to establish 24 routes network across the 14 local government areas of the state, with Two Hundred and thirty-two (232) leaders and large followership of Four Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty-Five bandits across the state.

DAMAGES CAUSED BY THE ACTIVITIES OF THE BANDITS

12. Consequently, there was the daily loss of lives, kidnappings of people, the rustling of livestock in their thousands and other forms of criminality.

13. My professional colleagues, between 2011 when the crisis began, to 2019 before the emergence of the present government under the leadership of Governor Bello Mohammed Matawallen Maradun, Two Thousand Six Hundred and Nineteen (2,619) people were killed, One Thousand One Hundred and Ninety (1,190) others kidnapped, with over Nine hundred Million Naira (N900,000,000) paid as ransom, Fourteen Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy-Eight (14, 378) animals rustled. While over one hundred thousand (100,000) people were displaced from their ancestral homes. This is in addition to the hundreds of houses that were burned to ashes with foodstuffs and other valuables worth billions of Naira destroyed by the bandits.

14. People were traumatized. Farmers were prevented from going to their farms to cultivate the usual food and cash crops for their daily needs. There was general food insecurity in the state in particular and the region in general.
15. The economy of the state was devastated by the crisis. This is in addition to the proliferation of both light and heavy weapons, with a high influx of bandits from the neighbouring countries, with no solution in sight. The crisis defied all forms of solution.

16. This is in addition to a large number of bandits camps across the state and beyond. At least there are almost one hundred (100) different bandit camps with no fewer than 300 bandits in each of these camps having sophisticated weapons with them.

17. Coupled with the shortage of manpower in the security sector and a very poor intelligence network. Yet, the governor must ensure the protection of the lives and property of the people.

18. Now tell me, which is the best option for the governor? To fold his arms to watch his people being killed or to go for dialogue and continue to use the repentant bandits to convince the recalcitrant bandits to save the lives of the governed?

PEACE AND RECONCILIATION PROCESS BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BELLO MATAWALLEN MARADUN

19. Gentleman of the press, it is against this background that when the government of Bello Mohammed Matawallen Maradun came on board, it decided to summon special stakeholders meeting comprising members of the state Assembly, Traditional Rulers, Security Chiefs in the state, Local Council Chairmen, the Council of Ulamas, Fulani and Yansakai leaders, Community and Opinion Leaders, and other critical stakeholders to discuss on the way forward to bring lasting peace in the state.

20. The meeting resolved at adopting the ongoing peace process, leading to the setting up of a special committee under the chairmanship of the state Commissioner of Police.

ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION PROCESS
21. As a result of the dialogue and peace process, over Sixty Two bandits accepted and embraced the peace initiative. This is in addition to the release of over Two Thousand (2000) kidnapped victims aided and abetted by the repentant bandits.

22. The repentant bandits are also helping in campaigning and convincing those bandits yet to accept the dialogue and reconciliation process to do so. They are also helping in the identification of the leaders of the recalcitrant bandits, including their camps and location for dialogue and reconciliation.

23. Since the commencement of the dialogue and peace process with the bandits, Zamfara state was free of any attack and kidnapping for almost eight (8) months, until recently when kidnapping and light attacks resurfaced.

CHALLENGES OF THE PEACE PROCESS
24. The recent upsurge in occasional attacks and kidnappings are being masterminded by the activities of some conflict entrepreneurs and informants who connived with the recalcitrant bandits to commit heinous acts against our innocent people.

OTHER AREAS OF ACHIEVEMENTS

B. AGRICULTURE
25. Zamfara state is an agrarian state with over 80% of its inhabitants engage in agricultural activities. In other words, almost all indigenes of the state are involved in either cultivation of crops in the dry, wet season or both or engaged in the rearing of animals.

26. Cognizance of this fact, government focuses attention in enhancing the sector. The present administration of Governor Bello Matawalle within the period under review has taken adequate measures to enhance farmers’ inputs with a view to maintaining food security of our people and other Nigerians.

27. Few among them are the revival of the Zamfara Comprehensive Agricultural Revolution Programme (ZACAREP) and the resuscitation of the Zamfara State Fertilizer Company. Under the two programmes, billions of naira is injected to the duo programmes to make fertilizer available to our teeming farmers. That apart, the state government undergoes the following programmes:
i. Payment of billions of naira as counterpart funding so that the state will continue to derive benefits from the programmes of various development partners;
ii. Under Fadama III Graduate Unemployed Youth Programme a total 229 unemployed youths have been supported with the total sum of N81,365,000. Each beneficiary benefited from a minimum of N360,000 as a support to embark on various small-scale businesses such as rice and maize farming, fish farming, livestock breeding and poultry production.
iii. Disbursement of cash grants to farmers and women associations under IFAD Community Development Programme. The money is aimed at supporting our rural communities to achieve food security.
iv. Construction of Rural Grazing Areas, popularly known as RUGGA, in the three senatorial districts of the State.

INFORMATION SECTOR
28. The administration of Governor Bello Matawalle focuses attention in the media industry. The Press-government relationship is very cordial and with my coming as the Commissioner, the state government is determined to enhance the relationship even further. We have both print and electronic media houses in the state. We have the Zamfara Radio and Television stations (ZRTV), the Zamfara State Printing and Publishing Company—publishers of the legacy newspaper in addition to correspondents or representatives of almost all media houses in Nigeria and beyond reporting activities in Zamfara state.
29. However, the most disturbing issue to His Excellency is that the state remains the only state in Nigeria without a functional television station. The government of His Excellency made giant efforts to overcome the problem. I am happy to inform you that TV equipment worth millions of naira has been purchased while the FM station has reached 90% stage of completion. The Zamfara state Radio station was gutted by fire during the administration of the past governor. All the studios of the station, the admin block have been rehabilitated with equipment worth billions of naira purchased. The radio station is 100% functional.

WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT.
30. From 2019 to date, the present administration was committing billions of naira in road construction/rehabilitations. This in addition to construction of multi million naira structures as far below:
• Construction/Rehabilitation of access roads in the state capital
• Provision of Solar Street lamps and CC TV cameras on the roads
• Construction/Rehabilitation of roads in Gusau, Bungudu, Maru and Shinkafi local government areas
• Rehabilitation of Government House and construction of Deputy Governor’s Office.
• Rehabilitation of Zamfara State House of Assembly Complex and renovation of multi-purpose Hall in J.B. Secretariat
• Rehabilitation/construction of Zamfara State TV and FM station
• Rehabilitation of burn Zamfara Radio Transmitting studio and equipment
• Clearance of proposed cargo Airport for construction
• Liaison offices in Kaduna and Abuja

31. My esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I believe it will bore you to give you all detail accounts of the giant efforts made by the Zamfara State Government within the 2 years of sterling leadership qualities of His Excellency, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle. Other sectors of the economy include:

HEALTHCARE DELIVERY SYSTEM
• Employment of additional medical doctors, nurses and midwives
• Rehabilitation of General Hospitals across the state
• Provision of Ambulances and other medical equipment
• Completion of Shinkafi Referral Hospital (in progress)
• Proposed establishment of Additional Schools of Nursing and Midwifery in zurmi
• Construction of 147 PHCs across 147 wards
• Free surgeries on women with cancers
• Provision of centre diagnostic centre for cancer cases
• Distribution of hospital consumables to all general hospital
• Distribution of free drugs and surgeries to different people in various villages
• Provision of health care services to 100 aged people in each ward
• Recruitment of 200 fresh nurses\ midwives
• Provision of modern equipment to DMA Construction of modern isolation Centre Damba, Gusau
• Construction of fourteen (14) women and children(WC) Hospitals in all 14 local governments areas across the state
• Procurement of tricycle ambulances for all the newly created 147 PHCs within the state
• Provision of motorcycles for all 14 LGAs NTD coordinators (in collaboration with Sight savers) etc

B. SOCIAL INVESTMENT
On human development, the government of His Excellency Bello Matawallen Maradun set up a special scheme known as SOCIAL SECTOR INVESTMENT where N20,000,000 is set aside monthly as economic empowerment allowance to 1,800 women local government by local government. The governor also Introduced and maintains Zamfara state economic/social intervention programm involving 1,800 youths monthly. Millions of naira was expended monthly on this program by the government.

C. EDUCATION
i. Rehabilitation of some Secondary and Primary Schools across the state
ii. Employment of Teaching Staff to reduce shortage
iii. Payment of WAEC and NECO Examination fees
iv. Procurement of Lab. Equipment, other logistics to Tertiary Institutions

STATE SCHOLARSHIP BOARD (ZSSB)
i. Developed the first scholarship sector strategy and work plan for the State Scholarship Board;
ii. Introduction of the Zamfara State Online Scholarship Application Portal for the first time since the creation of the state in 1996;
iii. Conducted the first-ever merit-based selection of scholars for overseas studies in courses such as medicine, Nursing, engineering, biotechnology, amongst others. Students were sponsored to India, Cyprus, Sudan and China (China students have commenced online lectures pending the relaxation of travel restrictions to China);
iv. Reorganisation and capacity building for various students organizations to make them ideal training grounds for students’ leaders; Hosted 3 sessions of digital skills training for over 500 participants comprising of students, lecturers, and civil servants amongst other participants;
v. Granting of need based Scholarship assistance to over one hundred students;
vi. Full and partial undergraduate scholarships to some physically challenged students;
vii. Setting up of board ICT unit with internet Wi-Fi connection, printer, photocopier and trained operators as well as social media engagement with students and parents to ease communication and feedback;
viii. Development of the Zamfara State Scholarship Board draft laws in partnership with the State Ministry of Justice. The bill has undergone first reading by the state House of Assembly (The state has been using the Sokoto State version dating back to 1970s);
ix. Establishment of partnerships with relevant public and private bodies kn and outside the country with a view to obtaining external support for Scholarship Board activities in Zamfara State;
x. Fact-finding visit to ascertain actual indebtedness of the state to Alhikma University Ilorin and Crescent University Abeokuta which led to the recent payment of about Seventy Million Naira as a commitment to settle the over two hundred million naira debt inherited from the previous administration.
xi. Payment of Nigerian law School Fees for 2019/2020 Zamfara State candidates And most recently (March 2021);
xii. Payments were made for TUITION, ACCOMMODATION, AND UPKEEP ALLOWANCES FOR SESSION OF 2020/2021 session for our overseas students and
xiii. The state government has also released the sum of 7 million Naira for verification of local student to ascertain genuine figures of our students in local institutions has commenced with a view to the reintroduction of local bursaries for eligible Zamfara State students.

FEEDING OF STUDENTS IN SCHOOLS
i. Zamfara state government is the only government across the country feeding secondary school students free of change;
ii. Dr Bello Muhammad Matawallen Maradun administration is allocating six hundred million naira termly for the supply of foods and other useful items for secondary school student across the state;
iii. Over one thousand workers are serving in various secondary school under constant salary by the Matawallen Maradun administration;
iv. It’s only the Zamfara government that is providing students with three square meals for boarding school and one square meal for day school every day. Only the Zamfara government is providing students with tea and bread and egg and chicken.
v. Zamfara state government under the leadership of Matawallen Maradun provides on monthly basis, the state feeding agency with cash allocation for proper monitoring of the feeding activities across all schools in the state;
vi. It also provides the commission vehicles for monitoring the feeding activities in all the 200 secondary schools across the state. It also recruited over two hundred school feeding officers including payment of their monthly allowances.
32. Finally, I must admit that governor Bello Matawalle was travelling in difficulties to meet the lingering challenge of insecurity in his domain. I must however commend members of the Joint Task Force, and some bandits who surrendered their arms and finally dumped banditry. I believe we will succeed in convincing few bandits who turned down deaf ears to the request of the state government. With peace at hand, I believe the sky will be the limit of His Excellency in moving Zamfara and its people forward.

33. Thank you.

 

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