Governor Muhammad Badaru has explained how Jigawa State has managed to keep itself relatively safe from banditry, a phenomenon that has left a trail of blood across the Nigerian North-west region.
In states in the region like Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna, thousands of people were killed or displaced last year by bandits, leading to some of the state governments calling in the military and cutting telecommunications networks as part of measures to check the bandits.
In Zamfara, for instance, officials said bandits collected over N3 billion as ransoms from families of abducted persons between 2011 and 2019
Also, 4,983 women were made widows, 25,050 children orphaned and 190,340 persons displaced in the state by bandits in that period.
But Mr Badaru said the atrocities are not being recorded in Jigawa because successive governments of the state in the Fourth Republic have sustained a policy that addressed the roots of banditry.
He said the policy allows Fulani herders to use cattle routes and ‘to some extent’ forest reserves, and encourages amicable settlement of disputes between crop farmers and cattle herders.
The governor said the policy has prevented conflicts between herders and farmers from developing into deep hatred between the two groups.
Mr Badaru spoke on Wednesday when the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council’s (PEBEC) ‘Business Made Easy tour reached Jigawa State.
The PEBEC is touring the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to engage business owners.
The governor said the administration of Governor Saminu Turaki between 1999 and 2007 “allowed the Fulani to use cattle routes and to some extent forest reserves’, while disputes between farmers and herders were discussed and resolved amicably.
“When Sule Lamido came, he continued with the initiative, he started providing water in grazing reserves and building schools for nomads. When I came in, I continued with the provision of water and demarcation of cattle routes,” Mr Badaru said.
“We introduced mobile veterinary services in 30 wards that enable the herders to get veterinary services in their own villages, giving the herders a sense of belonging.”
Mr Badaru said the policy averted cattle rustling and killings, adding that it provided the basis for the peace the state is enjoying today.
“If suspicious characters come to Jigawa, we get information from resident Fulanis that such people have arrived and we don’t trust them,” he said.
Mr Badaru said the absence of a similar policy in some states led to banditry that is now rampant in those states.
“But this was not handled well in other places and that was why, probably, you see the escalation. And some states got affected with the menace due to their proximity to the banditry-prone states.
If they had treated the issue the same way as Jigawa did, that could not have happened,” he said.
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Mr Badaru lamented that Fulani cattle herders were not being provided education opportunities and taken care of.
“They have become backward in the society and they discovered that they can buy Ak-47 to terrorise the people. The crisis is not only about kidnapping for money but you see vengeance in it, you see that they are angry. I believe that what the previous governments did in Jigawa and what I am doing will assist the state to remain relatively peaceful,” the governor said.
Business made easy tour
In her remarks, presidential aide on the Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole, said the objective of the tour is anchored on the acronym “L.I.T”, which means Listen, Implement, Track. She said the tour had stopped in Imo (South-East), Ekiti (South-West), Akwa Ibom (South-South), Kwara (North-Central), FCT (North- Central) and the Northwest.
“Many of the over 140 reforms successfully implemented by PEBEC since its establishment will be on exhibition, with MDAs on ground to offer real-time solutions to business problems,” she said.
According to Mrs Oduwole, “PEBEC’s mandate is to make Nigeria a progressively better place for businesses to thrive by championing an enabled economy. In collaboration with the executive, legislature, judiciary and other regulatory partners.
“The Council has significantly reduced the cost, time and number of procedures required to set up and carry-on business within the country,” she said.