The Chairman of the Northern Governors forum, Kashim Shettima of Borno state, said on Monday that the surest route out of the various conflicts in the Northern region was through development.
“Poverty, poverty and I say again, poverty, is to many of us, the number one monster dragging backward, our Northern Nigeria,” Shettima said during a meeting between the governors of the 19 northern states, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and other Chairmen of councils of traditional rulers across the northern states which held in Kaduna.
“For instance, in June, 2013, we recorded a good number of extremely poor persons, who were recruited for as little as N5,000 to either spy on soldiers and report their vulnerability to insurgents, attack and set schools ablaze by late night or in some cases, poor old women were paid similar amounts by insurgents, to either keep arms in their huts or smuggle arms from one point to another,” he said.
He shared the sad story of a 13-year old boy, Musa Grema, who revealed that he accepted N5,000 to set three primary schools ablaze and also spy on soldiers, because his parents relied on him for their feeding.
The main purpose of Monday’s meeting between the governors and the monarchs was to find a permanent solution to the bloodbath in Kaduna which has reportedly led to the loss of 204 lives since last year when it resurfaced, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The Catholic Church in Kaduna has however put the death figures at over 800.
Civil society groups and observers have accused the Federal and Kaduna state governments of not doing enough to resolve the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and indigenes of Southern Kaduna.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the meeting at Kashim Shettima house, Kaduna, Sultan Abubakar said the conflict was thriving because of the non prosecution of suspects involved in the crises.
He also warned Islamic and Christian preachers against preaching hate sermons, which he noted, served to inflame the crisis. The Sultan promised that traditional rulers across the region would back any action that would be taken by the Northern Governors forum to end the crisis.