As Northern Nigeria continues to grapple with banditry and associated ills like kidnapping, President Muhammadu Buhari has been offered an opportunity to bring it all to an end.
A masked bandit told Daily Trust that the president should personally come to negotiate with the bandits since he toured the country while campaigning for election.
The bandit, who did not give his name, stated that the government reached an agreement with his group but reneged on it.
“An agreement was reached, but you left that person in the forest with a gun and nothing to substitute. What do you expect? How do you want that person to survive? All the promises made to us none of it was fulfilled,” the masked bandit said.
“The president should personally come and preside over the talks. When he was campaigning, he travelled all over, why would he not do it now? He does not take these peace talks seriously and everyday people are being killed.
“There is no day that someone is not killed between Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto and Katsina. There is no tribe that is spared, gunmen kill, soldiers kill, vigilantes kill. Whoever you see with a gun today in Nigeria, he uses it to kill people. You may not know but if I were to tell you the situation of things in this country, you will cry. Even the president will cry.
“We supported this administration and accepted dialogue because we thought Buhari will fix this country, but he won’t fix this country. From the time he praised Goodluck, Obasanjo, and Yar’Adua, these were not praiseworthy. It would have been better if he had praised Abacha, because, under Abacha, pastoralists were being educated.
“During Abacha, there was allocation in the budget for the nomadic communities. There was no such thing again since Obasanjo became president. They stopped looking after the Fulanis. Their forests and grazing areas were taken over,” the masked bandit said.
He said that they were herdsmen that took up arms because the government abandoned them.
Popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been involved in series of negotiations with bandits, advised the Federal Government to grant them amnesty like it did to Niger Delta militants.
However, the advice has generated mixed reactions among many prominent Nigerians and socio-cultural groups.