By Nuhu Salihu Anka
Zamfara state which was in the past known as peaceful and the food basket of Nigeria has lost that position due to banditry activities affecting the entire 14 local government areas of the state.
Previous administrations have made frantic efforts of ending the menace but unfortunately, it defied solution.
Banditry reared its ugly face in the state in 2011 under the administration of former Governor Abdul Aziz Yari Abubakar. He applied several measures to bring the situation under control but he did not succeed.
One of the measures he adopted in tackling the insecurity problem was the introduction of peace process with the bandits.
During that period, the bandits had agreed to lay down their arms and embrace the peace process of former Governor Yari for almost one year but suddenly the peace process collapsed and the notorious criminals returned to their heinous crimes.
Yari was left with no option but to suspend the peace process and declare total war with the bandits. He was not able to completely eradicate the menace up to the time he finished his tenure and handed over the state to his successor, Alhaji Bello Mohammed Matawalle.
Former Governor Bello Mattawalle had also adopted several measures to tackle the insecurity situation in the state where he also introduced the peace process with the bandits but unfortunately, it did not work.
When Governor Dauda Lawal took over the mantle of leadership of the state from his predecessor Bello Mattawalle, he came out openly and told the world that, he would not reconcile with the marauding bandits because it would still failed as it did in the past.
There were hues and cries all over the country, calling on Governor Dauda to rescind his decision and embrace peace accord with the bandits, but he did not heed to their calls as he believe that, things would still be the same.
Based on his determination to rid the state of banditry activities, Governor Dauda quickly formed community protection guards known as ‘ASKARAWAN ZAMFARA who were carefully selected from their various localities to assist the security personnel in the fight against banditry.
After vigorous training, the 2,646 Community Protection Guards (CPGs) were last Wednesday inaugurated by Dr Dauda Lawal in a colourful ceremony and have since been dispatched to their various local government areas to assist the security agencies to fight the terrorists who have been unleashing terror on innocent citizens in the state.
The event which took place at the Gusau Trade Fair Complex, had in attendance the Governors of the North-West states of Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa, and Deputy Governor of Kaduna.
Also in attendance were former Governors of Sokoto and Zamfara States and a former National security Adviser to former President Goookuck Jonathan, General Ali Gusau among other dignitaries.
In his remark, Governor Lawal said he believed that with the inauguration of the Community Protection Guards (CPGs), otherwise known as ASKARAWAN Zamfara, the fight against banditry will be enhanced, and peace will be restored in Zamfara State.
He called on the people of the state to continue to pray for peace to reign in the state and also give their maximum support and encouragement to the inaugurated ASKARAWAN Zamfara.
Governor Lawal reiterated his administration’s position not to negotiate with the terrorists, but wanted the security forces to continue to prosecute the war against them until they are flushed out of the state and peace is restored to the people.
The Chairman of the Northwest Governors’ Forum and Katsina State Governor, Dr Umar Dikko Radda, maintained that they would not negotiate with the terrorists but wage war against them and bring back peace in the region.
General Aliyu Gusau, who was the chairman of the occasion, called for the cooperation of security agencies with the Community Protection Guards by sharing credible intelligence that will enable them to collectively stamp out banditry and other forms of crime.
With this development, one will say without fear of contradiction that, the fight against banditry has never been so serious in the past than now and by the grace of God, the people of the state particularly farmers will return to their normal businesses and the state will regain its status as the food basket of the nation.
Nuhu Salihu Anka is the Director General Media and Communications, Government House, Gusau