The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday expressed dismay over what it called the recent "cataclysmic collapse of security and colossal threat to lives and property" in many parts of Nigeria.
The convener of the forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, told journalists in Kaduna yesterday that the situation was more serious in the north, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to be sensitive to the plight of the people in the region.
According to him, "while the north still lives under horrendous Boko Haram threats, the situation has been aggravated by threats of banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, marauding youth gangs, herders and farmers mini-wars, and seemingly overwhelmed or indifferent governments."
He said large swathes of territory in the north were now effectively bandit land; while agriculture is in ruins, stressing that in all these was the cumulative effect of a region whose economy and people, especially the youth, had been abandoned.
Abdullahi cautioned that a dangerous youth bulge is a recipe for crime, violence and wars as poverty and underdevelopment can create a brutish and violent society.
He described as adhoc afterthoughts, the ban on mining in Zamfara.
He noted that illegal mining had been going on in different parts of the country and had nothing to do with the rising spate of insecurity in the north.
He said: "We at NEF cannot in good conscience, remain silent as criminal activities and bloodletting escalate in Nigeria and our region. We have sadly lived with unfortunate violence in the last few years but this should not continue or escalate.
"It would be irresponsible for us to refrain from calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to decisively respond to the existential threats faced by northern Nigerians in particular during these times and beyond. NEF as a matter of social responsibility and tradition, would never shy away from speaking truth to power, irrespective of the partisan, sectional or whatever constellation of political power in the nation."
"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," he stated.