Nigerian governors have identified with the Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, in his effort to address banditry through dialogue with the armed militia in the state.
Zamfara, in the North West region, has for many years been bedeviled by security challenges with armed bandits ransacking communities and kidnapping for ransom.
Since his coming in 2019, Mr Matawalle promised to pursue a “carrot and stick” approach in addressing the menace, including dialogue with the bandits.
The approach has drawn sharp reactions with a spokesperson for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) calling for investigation of “a North west governor” for fraternising with the bandits, in what some believed was a veiled reference to Mr Matawalle.
In a new twist, however, the Nigerian Governors Forum on Monday paid a commendation visit to Governor Matawalle, expressing its total support to his anti-banditry campaign in the North-west Zone.
A statement by Mr Matawalle’s spokesperson, Zailani Bappa, said a four-member delegation of the forum led by its chairperson, who is also Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, met with Mr Matawalle at the Zamfara Governor’s Lodge, Maitama, Abuja.
The forum said it was completely in support of the efforts being made by Mr Matawalle in the fight against banditry and other criminality in Zamfara State and the North-west at large.
“We note your single-mindedness in this pursuit and we also note the positive results being recorded by your approach in the fight against the menace of banditry in your state and the North-west as a whole,” Governor Fayemi said.
“All the Nigerian Governors stand as one in your support at this hour in your total commitment to the liberation of our people from the activities of these criminals in your state and the region.
“Whatever we can do to assist, we shall do it. We are here to encourage you to do more and we are solidly behind you”, Governor Fayemi told Mr Matawalle.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the support he is rendering in the fight against banditry, especially the posting of Special Forces to Zamfara State.
Mr Fayemi also, on behalf of the governors, commiserated with Governor Matawalle over the lives lost in the state as a result of the activities of bandits in the state.
Responding, Governor Matawalle said he was elated and encouraged by the visit which will serve as an elixir for his renewed efforts to do more so that his people can sleep with their two eyes closed.
“No amount of discouragement can deter me from doing what is right to salvage my people from the menace of banditry and other criminality”, Governor Matawalle assured.
He noted with utter dismay that after sleepless nights he spent working hard to assist in the release of Kankara children, a spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress accused him of harbouring bandits who terrorise his neighbours.
“I intended to sue in this case, but for the intervention of my brother, the Yobe state Governor Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, who assured me the officer will be reprimanded for such a callous statement. I am waiting to see the action that the APC will take since it has dissociated itself from the statement”, Governor Matawalle spoke.
He commended the Governors Forum for the encouragement and financial support to the victims of banditry in the state.
Mr Matawalle also commended Mr Buhari for the support he has always renders to him in the fight against banditry in the state.