Kaduna State Gov. Nasir El-Rufai, says banditry in the Northwest area of the country poses a serious threat to food production.
He said bandits had ravaged the region in the same manner the Boko Haram did to the area.
El-Rufai spoke to State House Correspondents on Friday after paying the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, a private visit.
He also met separately with Minister of Defence and the Service Chiefs over the activities of bandits in the Northwest and Kaduna State.
The governor, however, lauded the armed forces for checkmating the activities of the criminals.
While alerting them that the bandits might move to Kaduna State as the heat is turned on them in Sokoto and Zamfara states by the military, El-Rufai
urged the military to reinforce its operations in the state.
“Failure to deal with banditry now will take a huge toll on farming.”
According to him, the Chief of Air Staff has assured him that necessary step will be taken to secure the state for farmers.
“The Sokoto story only hit the headlines just a few days ago, but in Zamfara, in Kaduna, in Niger, in Katsina, this banditry has become a northwestern scourge and we have been battling it with the support of the military.
“We are very grateful to the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Army and in our own particular case, even the Navy has been holding fort Southern Kaduna.
“We have been dealing with this issue and our concern now is with the operations in Sokoto and Zamfara. Many of the bandits will move to Kaduna, this is part of the reasons I’m here, I will be meeting with the Minister of Defence and the Service Chiefs to try to get more military activities, some operations to be strengthened.
“I must say that they have been doing very well, they have supported us, but this banditry is a big problem. It’s going to affect agriculture unless it is dealt with and I believe that it will be dealt with.
“The Chief of Air Staff has assured me that whatever that will need to be done to wipe out the bandits to enable our farmers to go to farm as the rains advance, will be done. We are confident that things will get better.
“It’s most unfortunate that we’ve had to deal with it in the northwest in the same way that Boko Haram ravaged the northeast, these bandits are also becoming a serious problem in the northwest, but the problem is being addressed,” he said.
On the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on governance, El-Rufai said “it is the most difficult time to be in the saddle as a leader and called on Nigerians to work with President Muhammadu Buhari andcthe governors to take the country out of the health crisis.
According to him, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed governance to the point that those elected into offices could hardly notice that a year has passed out of the four-year tenure.
The governor said: “Because of the global situation with this pandemic, many of us have even forgotten that we have even spent one year in office.
“Many of us are celebrating it in a very low-keyed manner and I think what I will ask everyone in Kaduna State and indeed Nigeria, to do is to continue to pray for our leaders to do better, to be righteous because when you have righteous leaders, you will have a righteous nation.
“We are lucky to have a great, decent and honest man as president and we should continue to pray for him and all the governors to me more like him so that the country can make progress.
“We are one year in office, we have three more years to go and I do hope that collectively, all of us that were elected and given this leadership responsibility will discharge this responsibility to the satisfaction of our people, we will do our best.
“Speaking for Kaduna State, my team and I are working very hard not to let our people down, we are very proud of the quality of the people in our team, they have done very well.
“Even when I was isolated for 26 days, the business of government in Kaduna State did not stop, things have continued. I’m very proud of our deputy governor and the work that she has done with our team.”
“I think it is the same all over the country, we are all dealing with very difficult situation, the economy is going to go into depression, there is nothing we can do about that, revenues have collapsed, yet you still have to invest in more public health facilities, you have to invest in treatment, you have to invest in security and so on.
“So it is a very difficult time to be in a leadership position and that is why the people and the leaders must all work together and for the almighty God to end this pandemic.
“It is a major problem, but working together, we are a resilient nation and I’m sure we will overcome it,” he assured.