STATES are to get the cash they spent on federal roads, it was learnt yesterday.
President Muhammadu Buhari dropped the hint during his visit to Zamfara State after Governor AbdulAziz Yari’s request for the refund of the N56 billion being owed the state on federal road projects it executed.
The President said he had directed Power, Works & Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola to compile all outstanding payments of refunds to the states that implemented federal projects to specifications.
He expressed the hope that the refund would go a long way in addressing the security problems facing Zamfara state.Yari, who doubles as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), called for additional deployment of security personnel to the state to check incessant cases of armed banditry across 13 out of the 14 local government areas of the state.
In a presentation, the Secretary to the Zamfara State Government (SSG), Prof. Abdullahi Mohammed, gave an overview of the security challenges in the state in the last eight years, resulting in loss of lives and property.
According to him, the state has been witnessing three types of security crisis, namely cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom and reprisals attacks.
The SSG explained that Zamfara State had identified eight major flashpoints and made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to deploy more security in the state.
House of Assembly speaker Sanusi Garba said a fact-finding committee inaugurated last year had enumerated the number of causalities recorded as a result of the activities of bandits in the state.
Zamfara has witnessed cases of attacks by armed bandits with hundreds of innocent people killed and property worth billions of naira carted away or destroyed.
The recent attack by bandits at Birane village in Zurmi Local Government area of the state left over 50 people dead.
President directed security agencies to improve their strategies of intelligence gathering, surveillance and accuracy in deployments, and ensure that criminal activities were brought to an end across the country.
Speaking during an interactive meeting with political leaders, traditional rulers, elders and victims of criminal attacks in Zamfara State, President Buhari assured all security agencies of improved conditions that will facilitate apprehending criminals that steal, maim and kill innocent Nigerians.
He said: “As far as I am concerned, our security agencies have recorded some successes, but they need to do much more.
“They are not to oppress anyone, but they have to gather and send intelligence and warnings when something is about to happen.’’
The President commended the security agencies for eliminating a dreadful criminal, “Buhari general”, who had for many years initiated killings and destruction of properties.
Before “Buharin-daji”, who calls himself a general, there was a criminal who killed many people and he was killed; “Buharin–daji’’ has followed him and others like them should also follow,’’ he added.
The President said the threats to lives and properties will be significantly reduced with improved relations among community leaders, citizens and the security agencies.
He said: “I have come here to commiserate with you over loss of lives and properties. We will continue to do our best to improve the security situation. However, those committing atrocities live with you.
“Some of these people are not reported because you don’t trust the security outfits, instead you report back to the criminals. We should give priority to security,’’ he said.
The President warned that the ongoing war against corruption would be reinvigorated and sustained until public officers, who abused their positions, faced the wrath of the law.
He told the elders and traditional rulers that properties that had been confiscated by security outfits from some suspected corrupt public officials will be sold out, after the completion of court procedures.
Buhari urged Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector, pointing that the era of depending on petrol will one day come to an end.
On herdsmen attacks, the President said there was a need to revisit and review the old grazing area arrangements that guaranteed harmonious relationship between farmers and herdsmen, where differences were amicably resolved through the law without violence.
Governor Yari said the state government had deployed resources that were initially designated for development into fighting criminal activities.
The governor, who commended the security outfits for working hard to protect the state, pleaded with the Federal Government to improve the funding of operations, increase the number of security men working in the state and reimburse the state for monies spent on some Federal Government projects like roads, which he said was a major priority in fighting criminals.
Listing the eight major flashpoints, the SSG that 1,321 lives had been lost since 2011, while 1,881 people sustained various injuries from attacks, with about N14 billion spent on fighting the menace.
The traditional rulers, elders and leaders of the affected communities also pleaded with the government to ensure immediate security intervention in order to save lives.
The President in company of his aides, landed at the Gusau helipad at about 10.40a.m after taking off from Umaru Musa Yar’Adua international airport in Katsina.
Governors Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) some ministers, traditional and religious leaders, top government officials were among those that received the president.
President Buhari reviewed a parade mounted by the Army and Air Force.