Niger State Government and prominent indigenes of the state working with the Federal Government have commenced interface towards solving challenges bedevilling the state.
According to a press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mary Noel-Berje, the forum, led by Ambassador Zubairu Dada, Minister of State Foreign Affairs under the aegis of “Niger State Development Forum”, was received at the Government House, Minna by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.
Ambassador Dada said the forum, which is a voluntary apolitical group, has 22 membership strength now and is concerned with the progress and development of the state.
He said the forum is concerned with issues ranging from human capital development, agriculture and rural development, infrastructure deficit, extracting industry, revenue generation for the state, security challenges, and other general issues.
Ambassador Dada noted that there are many Nigerlites in Abuja and that their wealth of experiences and contributions can bring a positive impact to the state.
He presented three Ambassadors designate from the state to the Governor. They are; Ambassador Mohammed Haruna Manta, High Commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Nath Augustine Kolo, the Ambassador to Israel, and, in absentia, Ambassador Aishatu Musa the ambassador to Rwanda.
Governor Sani Bello, who welcomed the establishment of the forum, directed the Secretary to the State Government to coordinate the activities of all relevant agencies with the forum.
“I believe if we collaborate very well with this forum it will go a very long way and from time to time we will share ideas and opinions”, the Governor explained.
He said the establishment of the forum was long overdue and that, in most areas they highlighted, the state government had already set up committees, as such, they should collaborate and ensure their aim was achieved.
The Governor appreciated and thanked them for sharing in the pains of the security challenges faced by the state adding that the last few months have been challenging as kidnapping and banditry takes place often.
“The last few months we have been challenged by serious security issues but the state government is doing all it can to manage the situation”, he said.
The Governor said the state has deployed a new strategy to tackle insecurity and have decided to engage our traditional institutions to come up with a system of intelligence gathering, equipping and strengthening our vigilante group to compliment the conventional security agents.
He said using vigilantes to fight banditry in some areas has yielded positive results hence the need for more of them in Shiroro, Rafi, and other troubled local government areas.
The Governor said banditry has been going on in the state for a long time, but that the Kagara Students and that of NSTA abductions generated wide reactions and became more pronounced.
“The kidnapping of the students from Kagara and the NSTA passengers took the front pages, we have been suffering this for years”, he told the minister.
He said, with advocacy and call for assistance from the Federal Government, he was hopeful that they will do something and bring an end to the banditry attacks.