Members of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have cried out over the rising spate of insecurity in the region.
They lamented that while the region still lives under horrendous Boko Haram threats, large swathes of territory in the north have effectively become bandit land.
NEF Chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi stated this at a press briefing in Zaria during the weekend.
The forum specifically charged President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate higher level of concern and sensibility to the plight of traumatized citizens, especially in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Plateau and Taraba.
He said, “The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) is alarmed and its members saddened by the recent cataclysmic collapse of security, and the sanguinary and indeed colossal threat to life and property in many parts of Nigeria but more seriously in the North.
“Today, the North still lives under horrendous Boko Haram threats, a situation which has been aggravated by threats of banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, marauding youth gangs, herders and farmers mini-wars, and seemingly overwhelmed or indifferent governments.
“Large swathes of territory in our region are now effectively bandit land. Agriculture, our pride and national economic comparative advantage, the greatest employer of labour and leading contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product is in ruins as animal husbandry, and crops and roots farming is in the throes of war and damage.
“Our rural folk live in perpetual fear of attacks from sundry terrorist assailants without any reprieve. Our major highways and transportation systems are being abandoned as they have become death traps.
“We see in all these the cumulative effect of a region whose economy and people, especially the youth have been abandoned. A dangerous youth bulge is indeed a recipe for crime, violence and wars. We understand that poverty and underdevelopment can create a brutish and violent society.
“Nigeria has just emerged from a very challenging and harrowing set of elections. This experience should provide a strategic turning point in the manner that political leaders respond to our basic national challenges.
“We hereby demand that President Buhari demonstrates higher levels of concern and sensitivity to the plight of traumatized citizens in the country, especially in the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and virtually the entire North.
“We demand for decisive, comprehensive and fundamental governmental action against poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity.
“Above all, we demand that President Buhari shows leadership and compassion which are the reciprocal expectations of the Nigerian people from their President. Should the citizens of the most populous black and African country and blessed with bounteous human and material resources be running away from bandits and criminals and become entangled in a causative web of crime, poverty, misery and underdevelopment?
“Without justifying the emigration of our people to other lands, we now see how and why our young men and women seek escape to Europe across the Sahara Desert to pursue menial jobs and Perilous. We now painfully see how desperate Nigerians running away from home, become victims of xenophobic attacks in some countries,” Northern Elders lamented.
They however argued that, Nigeria had the resources to build a better nation and said that, as people of conscience, they will insist that such happens.