The Federal Government yesterday deliberated upon and adopted most of the recommendations of Alhaji Usman Galtimari Committee on security challenges in the North-east after a review by another committee headed by Minister of Interior Abba Moro.
A final decision was reached to dialogue with the fundamentalist Boko Haram and other groups if they renounce violence. Boko Haram has been carrying out a bombing and killing campaign in many Northern states, claiming it wants to Islamise Nigeria.
The details of the recommendations of the committee inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, on July 2, 2011 and submitted September 2011 to Vice-President Namadi Sambo were harmonised in a white paper to be published in a gazette being worked on by the Ministry of Justice.
It will also remove discrimination through the indigene/settler dichotomy in states for an enduring peace in the country.
Briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, and Moro said also prime on the recommendations was collaboration between the states, local governments and the Federal Government to create jobs and wealth for the teeming unemployed in the country.
Maku said the adoption of the position on dialogue had been spoken of several times by President Goodluck Jonathan and that any sect that drops arms and embraces “jaw jaw” would not receive a cold shoulder from the government “which is the father of all”.
The white paper also dwelt on the duties of security forces and their commitment as well as intelligence-gathering which failure, the Galtimari committee declared, led to the sectarian violence. But Maku said it would not be tidy to dwell much on the recommendations till a clean copy of the gazette was released.
Other recommendations to be published in the gazette include the reformation of the almajiri education to make it comply with contemporary systems that can absorb the large armies of youths that form ready armies for use by politicians.
Maku said: “Today, the report was extensively discussed in council particularly the white paper which spells out government views on the recommendation that was made by the white paper committee. Mr. President attaches strong importance to the need for peace not only in the North-east but indeed in other parts of the federation and that was why today we took such a long time to discuss this report. Suffice it to say at this point that government has discussed all the recommendations of the Galtimari report and we have come up with government positions on those recommendations in the white paper.
“The report is extensive. It covers the remote causes of the crisis in the North-east and other parts of the North. It also covers various levels of responsibilities from community to local government to state and to Federal Government in tackling the menace of violence and terror in the North-east and other parts of the federation.
“The report also covers the responsibilities and operations of security agencies in bringing this about as well as the political aspects of the report which we believe must be addressed pari pasu with the security measures that the Federal Government has taken to bring this crisis under control and eventually bring it to an end.
“We've discussed, we have taken decisions on them but we cannot go into details because it is a white paper. And so the decision of the Federal Executive Council will have to go to the Ministry of Justice where the final paper will be gazetted and issued centrally and when the gazetted white paper comes out, we will be able to unveil the details to members of the public. But suffice it to say at this stage that government is doing everything that is necessary to ensure that we defeat this violence; will bring about peace and security not only in the Northern states but in the entire federation.”
He said they discovered that the issues noticed in the North-east also cut across other sections of the country, adding that they would apply the same measures aimed at achieving peace.
“For instance, on the issue of indigeneship and settlership, the recommendation of the committee was to the effect that government should emulate the situation in Sokoto State where there is no discrimination in terms of education and employment. And so these are issues that affect the lives of Nigerians, issues and recommendation of creation of employment opportunities were raised and government has accepted to encourage state governments and local governments to collaborate with the Federal Government on that across the country. So by and by, it is our hope that by the time these issues are documented and presented and address the very basic issues that create agitation in Nigeria that we would have peace then economic and political development can take place,” Moro said.
Galtimari had identified “massive unemployment of youths, both skilled and unskilled; existence of private militias that were established, funded and used by politicians and individuals and then dumped after having been trained to handle arms; presence of large number of almajiris who together with those mentioned above could easily be used as canon-fodders to ignite and sustain crisis; influx of illegal aliens resulting from porous and unmanned borders coupled with provocative and inciting preaching by some religious leaders; extra-judicial killing of the sect leader Mohammed Yusuf and some members of the sect by security agents; and weak governance and failure to deliver services in the wake of huge resources accruing to states and local governments” as part of the causes of the violence.
It recommended that “the Federal Government should fundamentally consider the option of dialogue and negotiation which should be contingent upon the renunciation of all forms of violence and surrender of arms to be followed by a rehabilitation programme on the side of government. The Federal Government should create an informal forum at the highest level, where Mr. President will discuss national security issues with governors and other stakeholders from time to time. Again, there is an urgent need for arranging an informal forum where Mr. President will grant audience to each state governor on one-to-one basis where issues on security, could be addressed. The Federal Government should diversify and strengthen its means of creating avenues for international intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation through diplomatic channels/pacts”.
FEC also deliberated on having a standard method of attracting investors into the country after a study revealed that there were bankable projects that investors were waiting and willing to invest in across the country but have been held back by lack of standards on such Public Private Partnerships.
It directed that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should establish offices - Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) - and outline projects ready for such partnerships so that they would be presented to investors.