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FORMER Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Usman Yusuf has said that there is no military solution to banditry in northern Nigeria.
Yusuf said this while speaking at a live webinar titled ‘Nigeria’s insecurity: Addressing the challenges of Banditary and Kidnapping’ organised by The ICIR on Thursday, April 15.
According to Yusuf, while there was a very important role for the military in resolving banditry in the North, the solution to banditry would not be achieved through the use of force.
“Banditry in northern Nigeria is essentially a social problem and not a military problem,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria had been militarising what was essentially a social problem, and that the country lacked enough military personnel to tackle banditry and insecurity across the nation.
He further stated that the onus of resolving banditry and insecurity in the country no longer rested exclusively on the government and the military, but was now the duty and responsibility of the citizens of Nigeria.
Yusuf suggested dialogue as the first of several steps in resolving banditry and insecurity in Nigeria, saying there was no other viable option left..
“Dialogue is a legitimate tool used in all conflicts. It is used usually before a conflict, during the conflict, and after the conflicts hostilities. It saves lives, properties and is more enduring than war.”
Yusuf also noted that dialogue should be encouraged not only in the North, but in all parts of the country experiencing insecurity so that all grievances might be aired. He urged the leaders and citizens of the South-East and South-West to engage all warring parties in their regions in communication in order to avoid full-blown banditry in these areas.
It should be noted that Yusuf had gone along with the Sheikh Ahmad Gumi into the forests to dialogue with bandits in the North earlier this year.
A former senator who represented Kaduna Central Shehu Sani stated that the criminal activities of the bandits should be condemned and opposed by all. He also agreed with Yusuf that dialogue was a better approach to ending insecurity in Nigeria.
The former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Chidi Odinkalu stated, in his own contribution, that nobody had the monopoly of grievances in Nigeria. While agreeing that dialogue was needed in resolving conflicts in Nigeria, Odinkalu asked where dialogue would end and advocacy for terrorism begin. He went further to state that the biggest bandits in the country were the Nigerian politicians.
The issue of crisis entrepreneurs was raised by the Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian Newspaper Nigeria Martins Oloja, who stated that crisis entrepreneurs should be expunged from the system and that the issue of banditry should be approached with sincerity of purpose.