The Sultan of Sokoto and Chairmen of councils of traditional rulers across the 19 States of northern Nigeria, Sa’ad Abubakar, has met with governors in the region over the continuing violence in Southern Kaduna.
Hundreds have been killed in the area since last year in clashes between Fulani herdsmen and locals of the area.
The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said 204 people have been killed. But the figure has been disputed, with the Catholic Church putting the death toll at 808 early January.
The federal government and the Kaduna governments have been accused of not doing enough to end the killings.
The meeting of governors and traditional leaders is expected to help in finding a solution.
Mr. Abubakar expressed concern over the use of places of religious worship to preach hatred.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on Monday at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House , Kaduna, the Sultan said preaching hatred and violence divide citizens, rather than strengthen unity as a people.
He said one of the numerous reasons why violence has continued to thrive in the region is impunity that has seen culprits go without punishment.
He said in view of the threats and the dimension the crises were taken, the traditional rulers from the region would back any action that is being and would be taken by the Northern States Governors forum.
“Let us collectively as one people say enough is enough,” the Sultan added.
In his speech, chairman of the Northern State Governors Forum ,NSGF, and Governor of Borno State Kashim Shettima said managing multiculturalism is a major challenge and indeed a litmus test for leadership, good governance and progress not just in Northern Nigeria but in the entire global society.
“Our backwardness in education, pervasive poverty and persistent insecurity are amongst the basis of this extraordinary meeting,” he said.
He said the southwest and southeast have remained comparatively more prosperous.
“Some may argue that theirs are societies with common tribes while ours in northern Nigeria, is the multi-ethnic reality of the African mix, as some researchers call it. This African-mix is ordinarily a comparative advantage and we can make it so.
“Poverty, Poverty and I say again, poverty, is to many of us, the number one monster dragging backward, our Northern Nigeria
“For instance, in June, 2013, we recorded a good number of extremely poor persons, who were recruited for as little as N5,000 to either spy on soldiers and report their vulnerability to insurgents, attack and set schools ablaze by late night or in some cases, poor old women were paid similar amounts by insurgents, to either keep arms in their huts or smuggle arms from one point to another.
“One case I always remember is that of one Musa Grema, a 13 year old boy who revealed that he accepted N5,000 to set three of our primary schools ablaze and also spy on soldiers, because his parents relied on him for their feeding,” he said.
Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State said the traditional rulers were the closest to the grassroots and hold the ace to resolving some of the crisis.
He called on them to impress it upon their subjects that ensuring security is a business of all in their domains.
At least 15 out of the 19 states governors or their deputies attended the opening session.
They are Taraba governor, Darius Ishaku, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Plateau governor, Simon Lalong, Katsina governor, Aminu Masari, Borno governor, Kashim Shettima, and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu.
Also seen at the meeting were, Kano governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, Niger State governor, Sani Bello, Jigawa governor, Ababakar Badaru, and
Adamawa State, Jibrilla Bindow.
Benue, Kogi, Zamfara and Nasarawa states were represented by their deputies.
Emirs of Kano, Zazzaua,Etsu Nupe, Emir of Zuru, Gwandu,Yauri,Bida,Wukari,Shehun Borno also attended.