The Zamfara State Governor, Mr Abdulaziz Yari, said on Thursday that he was ready to quit if the declaration of state of emergency in the state would end the rising killings by bandits.
However, he noted that the situation in his state was more of a lack of adequate presence of security personnel
The governor had in September 2018 said insecurity in the state had led to the loss of at least 2,300 people.
Yari had also stated that agricultural activities in the state had suffered a major setback because of insecurity, adding that over 25,000 cattle had been rustled.
On Thursday, Yari argued that Zamfara was under-policed, thus giving the bandits the opportunity to operate freely.
However, he stated that if a state of emergency would bring solution, he was prepared to give up his seat and save human lives and property.
Yari spoke with State House correspondents in Abuja after he held yet another meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the insecurity in Zamfara State.
The governor said, “You are aware of what is happening in Zamfara State and some parts of neighbouring states on the issue of banditry, abduction and you can say insurgency kind of.
“So, it is necessary for me to come forward and brief the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari. We sat down as head of security in the state and all other stakeholders and looked at the situation and came with a report that we think will help the heads of security agencies here through Mr President to strategise, so that they can know what actually the problem is.”
He stated that there was some momentary calm, following the intervention of Buhari, who recently ordered the deployment of more policemen in the state.
“The situation on the ground now is calm and as a state we are putting all our best to ensure that normalcy returns and we have started getting results.
“We believe strongly that, with what we have on the ground, with the number of security agents, if they take their job seriously, within a short period of time we can get out of where we are.
“We hope with the encouragement from the side of the President and the encouragement from the service chiefs, we believe in a short time the issue will become something of the past.”
When asked a specific question on whether he would give up his position in the event of an emergency rule, Yari replied, “Actually, it is the lives of people we are talking about and not the position.
“We are there because lives are there; if there is no life there, what is the essence of leadership? Therefore, I did not call for declaration of state of emergency in the state out of politics, I am serious about it.
“The way some people are talking about it politically, I am not looking at it that way. Since the inception of my regime, I have never looked at insecurity as being political but I am looking at it as criminality and I approach it in a way that it could be solved.
“Some politicians about three years now have been calling for a state of emergency and I said if the declaration of state of emergency will solve the problem, I am ready.”
Yari, however, denied that emergency rule was part of the agenda of Thursday’s meeting with Buhari.
The governor added that much as he was disturbed by the many cases of killings by bandits, he did not believe that the situation was insurmountable.
He added, “There is no territory where they say the bandits occupy, they are there in the forest but the problem I shared with the President is that, there was an instruction given by the President that any policeman who has stayed more than three years should be transferred.
“Unfortunately, those that were transferred have not been replaced. So out of 230 districts and 147 electoral wards with over 20,000 people, it is only in 23 (wards) that we have police presence.
“So you can understand a number of places that there is no presence of security agents and these people are aware and those are the places the bandits hit most times.
“They hardly go to any area there is police or security presence because they know that the security will attack them. So I told the President that we need the attention of the Inspector-General of Police so that the number of police officers transferred should be replaced.”
The governor also dismissed fears that the upcoming general elections would be negatively affected by the activities of the bandits.
Gov’s offer confirms failure of Buhari – PDP
But the Peoples Democratic Party described the offer by Yari to quit as a confirmation of Buhari’s failure.
It said that the President, who had pleaded that under his watch, no force, external or internal, would occupy even an inch of Nigeria’s soil, should be ashamed of himself.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the governor’s comment, said, “What the governor said was a total confirmation that the Buhari administration had failed woefully to secure the lives of ordinary citizens of this country.
“If a governor could be frustrated to the extent that he was ready to vacate his seat as a result of uncontrolled criminality in his state, then the Buhari administration should be ashamed of itself.
APC has a hidden agenda – Fayose
However, a former Ekiti State governor and South-West Coordinator of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Ayodele Fayose, dismissed Yari’s statement.
The ex-governor stated, “There is more to it. There is a hidden agenda here.”
Fayose, who spoke through his media aide, Lere Olayinka, said he first disclosed the plot by the Federal Government to impose emergency rule on Zamfara State because of the general elections, adding that Nigerians would not be deceived.
Fayose said, “There is a plot to declare emergency in Zamfara. I disclosed this plot about two weeks ago. That plot is still there. The reason is simple. They want to hide under insecurity in Zamfara because the All Progressives Congress does not have candidates at all levels for the February and March elections.
“The moment emergency is declared, there will be no election in Zamfara in February and March. That will afford them the opportunity to start the electoral process afresh in the state so that the APC will be able to present candidates.
“The question is – Is insecurity more pronounced in Zamfara than that of Borno and Yobe? Why is Borno State governor not saying he is ready to leave office so that his people will be secure? Why is Yobe State governor not saying the same thing?
“Only yesterday (Wednesday), the Katsina State governor raised the alarm that bandits had invaded his state. Why is the Katsina governor not saying he wants to leave office? Nigerians should know that they want to hide under emergency.”
In a related development, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris has approved the deployment of additional police units and manpower in Katsina State to beef up security.
The approval was secured on Thursday, according to the police command spokesman, Gambo Isah.
Gambo told journalists at the state police command headquarters in Katsina that additional three units of mobile police were on their way to Katsina.
He said, “The units will complement the three counter-terrorism units that had earlier been deployed to the frontline local government areas in the state that share boundaries with Zamfara.
“We also have the IGP special task forces on the ground. All these are meant to take fight to the bandits inside the bush.”