Sunday, December 5, 2021

Insecurity: PGF boss blasts Sheikh Gumi, says bandits must be declared terrorists

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The Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, Salihu Moh-Lukman, has condemned the Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, for rejecting the call for the declaration of bandits as terrorists.

Releasing a statement Thursday in Abuja, Mr Lukman who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said the criminals terrorizing the North-west and North-central parts of the country have the characteristics of a terrorist group.

He said: “Interestingly, apologists and self-appointed counsels to the Bandits, such as Sheikh Ahmed Gumi are becoming more confident, and are irresponsibly mobilising opposition against declaring bandits’ terrorists.

“All the studies about insecurity and banditry in Nigeria only confirmed that the bandits operating in the North-West and North-Central have all the characteristics of terrorist groups.

“For instance, a study by Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufa’i, presented at the 15th Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto Seminar Series, on Thursday, September 9, 2021, titled, I am a Bandit – A Decade of Research in Zamfara State Bandit’s Den, reported that bandits are armed groups with ‘contacts across the Sahel, particularly Libya and Mali’, having ‘huge capital’, ‘in possession of more that 500 AK 47 guns’, and ‘own sophisticated weapons like RPGS and Anti-Aircraft.’

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“The report indicated that ‘there are over 60,000 weapons in circulation’ in the North-West alone.”

Mr Lukman also described as ‘old ideological mindsets’ the recent editorial opinion published by The Economist magazine on the capacity of the Nigerian Army forces.

On the way forward, the APC chieftain said so long as public debates in the country are not guided by knowledge, citizen engagement with public policy will continue to be reduced to sentiment.

Mr Lukman said: “How APC can facilitate the reform of information management structures in the country to successfully mobilise Nigerians to support government initiatives will largely determine the electoral viability of the party.

“Once APC continues to allow speculative and false national debates such as the issue of unfounded agreement between Nigeria and US government on the use of the A-29 newly acquired Super Tucano jets, it is indicative of a weak communication management framework, which may only worsen the challenges facing the country.

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“Inability to use knowledge to guide public debate is what confer legitimacy to so-called editorial opinion by arrogant news medium such as The Economist based on old ideological mindsets. Resolving the security challenge facing the country is about winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of Nigerians!”

The PGF boss also called for mainstreaming of some policies and initiatives of government agencies.

He said: “The campaign by National Orientation Agency, for instance, of change begins with me is one of such initiatives. Perhaps, it needs to be further strengthened and improved such that it highlights the new secure Nigeria being envisioned.

“How can the change begin with me campaign, also for instance, fit into the strategy of mobilising Nigerians to support the fight to end insecurity in the country, in all its ramification?

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“To achieve that will require some radical reforms of many of the structures of government facilitating the process of information management, including the National Orientation Agency.”

Mr Lukman noted that the current problems of insecurity and banditry in Nigeria is partly a direct consequence of the collapse of the country’s educational system, which is why there is estimated over 12 million Nigerian children out of school.

“Any debate about the challenges of insecurity and banditry in Nigeria, which misses this reality is simply uninformed and therefore unhelpful.

“The arrogance of The Economist, which made them to imagine that they can condemn Nigerian Armed Forces and Government based on some uninformed sentiments reflects the old ideological mindset that was used in the 1980s to impose Structural Adjustment Programmes, leading to the destruction of education and health sectors in most African countries, including Nigeria.”

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