Information minister, Labaran Maku, says that incessant attacks by Boko Haram in Kano, which is the commercial nerve center of northern Nigeria, is gradually killing the economy of the north.
Mr. Maku said this while addressing state house correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) at the council chamber, Aso rock villa Abuja.
The minister was reacting to the consistent threats being issued by the Boko Haram sect to attack cities in the northern part of the country and said such threats and attacks are paralyzing the economic activities of the region.
“Terrorism in places like Kano is destroying the North as it hits at the heart of the development of the region,” Mr. Maku said.
He also noted that the northern part of the country needs peace more than any other region because it lags behind in terms of infrastructural development, literacy level and industrialization.
“The attack on Kano is so significant because Kano has always been the commercial centre of western Sudan for the past 500 years, even before the evolution of Nigeria, Kano was the economic epicenter of not just northern Nigeria, but that of Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon, so when you destabilize peace in Kano you threaten the foundation of economic and social well being of all northerners.”
This, he said, has made it imperative for Northern leaders, elders and other stakeholders in the region to rally round the government and get involved in bringing this ugly development to an end.
Mr. Maku said this explains why the Vice president met with governors from the northern region last week, while the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and all major traditional rulers from the north also met to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
During these meetings, the leaders, Mr. Maku said, have agreed on certain terms such as the need for community surveillance, cooperation and integration.
The minister reiterated that the federal government is willing to engage members of the sect in a dialogue as long as they will lay down their arms and embrace peace.
“In spite of all these it is the understanding of the federal government that those involved in terror attacks are our children. Yes foreigners are involved but they do so in partnership or in collaboration with some Nigerians and because they are our citizens, we have continued to call on them to lay down their arms, whatever grievances they have can be better realized by bringing those grievances in an orderly way to the government at all levels
“But the President has turned in the olive branch. It is not a happy thing for Nigeria to deploy its military forces against some of its citizens, therefore it is not something we are doing out of choice.”
Mr. Maku also said the recent threat on attack Sokoto, which is the spiritual head quarters of all Muslims in Nigeria, shows that the sect is not fighting any religious war.
“If you go and attack Sokoto for example, Sokoto is the spiritual headquarters of all Muslims in the country. The Sultan of Sokoto is officially recognized as the leader of Muslims in Nigeria. He is the Prime leader and authority of Islam, so if for example you attack Sokoto what is the benefit? And that is why we continue to say that we do not see much of religion in what is happening, because Sokoto is virtually an Islamic centre and the headquarters of the caliphate that spreads Islam to most part of Nigeria and even South-West so if you go and attack Sokoto in what way does it affect the course of Islam if it is Islam they are fighting for?”.