By Abdulwaheed Olayinka Adubi, Kaduna
Governors of the North Eastern states have converged on Gombe state to discused issues relating to the economic emancipation, unity and insecurity affecting the region.
Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya observes that some of the challenges that necessitated the formation of the North East Governors’ Forum, NEGF still persist, calling for sustained synergy to tackle the lingering issues.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya who stated this while welcoming Governors of the zone to the 7th meeting of the North East Governors’ Forum (NEGF) in Gombe listed some of the lingering issues to include “Boko Haram insurgency and the resultant humanitarian crisis; Evolving security threats posed by criminal activities like banditry and kidnapping; Climate change disasters especially the recent floods and their debilitating effects on the livelihoods of our people; Staggering infrastructure deficit as well as the sorry state of human capital development in our subregion. Other contemporary issues of common concern also make this meeting particularly important”.
The Governor observed that over the past two years, the Forum has developed the understanding, conviction, steadfastness, and cooperation needed to address the common problems undermining the growth and development of our subregion.
“We have been able to collectively engage, mobilize and sensitize stakeholders at the highest level both nationally and internationally”.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya described the formation of the NEGF as a tremendous success where for the first time in the history of the zone, Governors of the sub-region were able to forge a common front for the overall benefit of the people irrespective of ethnic, religious or political considerations.
He observed that the presence of Governors in the 7th edition of the North East Governors Forum meeting symbolises the growing strength of cooperation, collaboration and cordial relationship among the governors of the six states of the subregion.
“To borrow from Nigeria’s first national anthem: ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’ Our strength lies in the sheer determination of each and everyone of us to set aside primordial differences in order to pursue a common vision aimed at improving the lives and wellbeing of our people”.
“You may all recall that the NEGF was formed following our first meeting here in Gombe on the 5th of March 2020. Since then, we have had subsequent meetings in Maiduguri, Yola, Bauchi, Jalingo and Damaturu. During each of those meetings, we engaged relevant stakeholders and deployed great energy and resources to brainstorm on common issues facing the subregion with a view to finding effective solutions. At the end of each meetings we issued communiques with actionable items and plans that we are following up through the Forum’s Director-General who heads the NEGF secretariat, in order to ensure timely implementation”.
He said today’s meeting, which is the first in the second round, is special one for a number of reasons as it offers the Forum an opportunity to take stock of its achievements since its first meeting in Gombe as well as to reflect on the challenges and obstacles confronting it since the inception of the Forum.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya further remarked that the 7th edition of the North East Governors Forum is coming at a time when the region and the entire country continue to grapple with multiple challenges that require urgent solutions.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya used the occasion to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for his untiring commitment and strong leadership towards the security and stability of the North-East subregion and Nigeria at large.
Chairman of the North East Governors Forum and Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum said since the formation of the Forum, Governors of the sub-region have painstakingly discussed issues of common interest which has so far led to the decimation of Boko Haram insurgency and other crime and criminalities through shared intelligence.
He observed that the non-kinetic approach initiated and adopted by the Forum with support of the Federal Government to address the menace of Boko Haram insurgency has come a long way to opening up a corridor for many members of the sect to lay down their arms
The NEGF chair said it is a matter of necessity for Governors of the sub-region to maintain a strong and unwavering position towards addressing the menace of kidnapping that is fast becoming a new normal across the country.
Professor Zulum used the occasion to pay special tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment and members of the Armed Forces for their relentless efforts towards ending insurgency in the North East and other crimes and criminalities across the country.