The high cost of fighting insecurity in Northern Nigeria is taking a huge toll on the financial capacity of the state governments across the region to fund critical development projects and programmes, Simon Lalong, Governor of Plateau State said.
Lalong, who is also the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum stated this in Kaduna, Saturday, March 27.
The governor was the keynote speaker at the 11th Arewa House annual lecture, where he spoke on: Reducing The Cost of Governance For Inclusive Growth And Youth Development in Post-COVID-19 Northern Nigeria.
“Security challenge is constituting a major drain on the country’s resources in view of its intractable nature and scope of banditry and spate of kidnappings especially in the Northern part of the country,” he lamented.
“There is hardly a day that tales of bandits attacking communities and killing people, stealing their properties or kidnappings for ransom will not be told,” he regretted further, recalling the Kankara, Katsina State, Jangebe, Zamfara State, and Kagara, Niger State school children abductions.
“As a result of these security challenges bedeviling the country, the government now has to embark on so many military operations such as Operation Harbin Kunama, Lafiya Dole in the Northeast, Operation Safe Haven in Plateau State, Crocodile Smile in the Southeast,” the governor observed.
“These operations imply the deploying the military out of the barracks with daily feeding allowances and also servicing hardware which cost a lot of money,” he maintained.
Governor Lalong said that the fight against Boko Haram in the Northeast had gulped hundreds of billions of naira, recalling: “For example, in the 2021 Nigerian budget, over N300 billion has been allocated to the execution of the Boko Haram and such allocations of funds for this purpose has been going on for about 10 years”.
The Northern Governors Forum Chairman maintained: “This is money that would have been channeled towards other developmental projects like education, industrialisation, youth empowerment etc is now being spent needlessly on the execution of the war and other security challenges.”
Governor Lalong posited: “One of the dire consequences of the high cost of governance in Northern Nigeria is the increased insecurity in the region.”
He pointed out: “This is largely attributed to the fact that the money that would have been required to purchase advanced weapons to fight insecurity is usually diverted into individual pockets due to corruption or spent in payment of huge salaries and wages to a large number of political appointees and corrupt politicians.”
The governor said returning the Northern region to normalcy formed one of the highest priorities of the Northern Governors Forum.
“Achieving this feat however will require ending insurgency, banditry, and other forms of insecurity that have become the persistent plight of the region for more than a decade.”
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