Gentlemen of the Press,
Our Almighty Creator has once again ushered us into another brand new year (2017) after very eventful last year which came and went with its blessings and challenges.
I welcome you all, especially members of my constituency, with fervent wishes of more peace, security and prosperity under a condition that is conducive for everyone to pursue his livelihood without fear and intimidation.
Last year was indeed a trying time for scores of communities in Southern Kaduna who, for no faults of theirs, have become victims of unhindered mass slaughter and the tearing down of their communities by predatory armed herdsmen on a scale never experienced in the history of Kaduna state.
I hereby express my empathy and condolence to all affected families and communities that I may not have visited during these dark periods. I share in your grief and pray that God heals your heart.
As you can all recall, I have tried alongside with my colleagues at the National Assembly to seek intervention of both the State and the Federal government to arrest the situation. Unfortunately, these actions were met with lukewarm reactions.
I had to speak strongly on the matter as against the backdrop of lingering lethargy exhibited in some of Government’s actions and utterances. I am indeed very grateful that you stood by me to affirm that I spoke for you all.
After a flurry of activities, I have observed that both the state and the Federal government have begun to make concerted efforts, as more federal troops and the number of armed policemen has increased by many folds in the past few days.
We welcome this development very earnestly and hope that it will not only lead to securing our remaining communities, but that all villages presently under occupation of herdsmen after the villagers have been chased away, will be retaken and the owners returned home to start rebuilding their lives.
I also hope, that the presence of these large contingents of soldier, Police and Directorate of State Services (DSS) will lead to the arrest of culprits so that they can be brought to justice. These kinds of horrendous crimes must not go unpunished.
Next, I want to call on the Federal and Kaduna State governments to initiate a supplementary budget specifically to help the thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Southern Kaduna to cushion the harsh conditions which murderers have forced them to live under. I believe that any other funds appropriated for these communities outside assisting them to feed, rebuilding and providing them enduring security means very little to them.
I have also observed that the 24-hours curfew clamped on Jema’a, Kaura and Zango Kataf LGAs, is more punitive on the people than a security measure. It was under the cover of this curfew that innocent law-abiding natives of Goska were murdered and the town totally razed. Governor Nasir el-Rufai should lift this curfew in the face of the influx of help from the federal government by way of more soldiers and police.
I hereby call on all residents of Southern Kaduna to give maximum cooperation to our troops and security personnel in the discharge of their duties. I also call on our people to give Governor Nasir el-Rufai the cooperation and encouragement he needs to bring peace to Southern Kaduna. I am ever ready on my part to partner with Government so that we can complement efforts for the best results. The governor should in turn not regard everyone whose opinion and ideas towards solving the menace as “politicking with deaths” or as an enemy of peace.
This is the time for the governor to guide his utterances, especially the ones directed at the already traumatized people of Southern Kaduna. His words in the past had not been comforting to our people, thus creating more disaffection and if not anger.
However, we must always remember that we the people of Southern Kaduna are known for our tolerance, civility and respect to constituted authority. This is the time to express these values even as we remain ever vigilant over our communities.
With this development in 2017, I hope we can start sincere and genuine dialogue with those, who for no just cause, have chosen to become our adversaries.
I hope that the Government will initiate avenues for building bridges and seeking true reconciliation for enduring and sustained peace in Southern Kaduna through the right policies.
I have no doubt that we shall overcome this problem, no matter how daunting it may seem today.
May the divine guidance and wisdom of our Creator lead us this year as I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.
Sign: Senator Danjuma Tella Laah
(PDP, Kaduna South Senatorial Zone)
January 1st, 2017