By Fadahunsi E. Abayomi
When news filtered through that Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State had been nominated as Grand Ambassador of Security and Peace in Nigeria by the Peoples Security Monitor, the joy and excitement felt by the citizens of the state were palpable and sincere as he truly deserved the epochal honour, having worked tirelessly and relentlessly to entrench peace and security in the Jewel in the Savannah.
I visited Gombe before the coming on board of Inuwa Yahaya administration and I also had cause to visit a couple of times during his stewardship, my last visit was when the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammad Saad Abubakar chaired the national summit on peaceful coexistence and nation building. I have also read a lot about Gombe and its peaceful atmosphere, especially lately.
Though visitors, tourists and foreign investors presently thronging Gombe might take the tranquility and serenity now prevailing in the state for granted, this was not the case in the previous years before Governor Inuwa Yahaya took office, as political violence, electoral thuggery, armed banditry and even insurgency were the sorry lot of the Gombe people as the political leaders and their surrogates battled each other for dominance of state power.
Indeed some of the political actors resorted to ethnic and religious baiting, setting one group against the other while others armed thugs to harass, maim and even kill perceived opponents and adversaries. The infamous Kalere thugs were utilised by some self-styled political godfathers to engage in a brutal campaign of despotism, impunity and political oppression unprecedented in the annals of Gombe state’s history.
Communal crises, election violence and divide and rule tactics had set the state at boiling point and in several locations before the pacifist minded Governor Yahaya took office in May 2019, and he wasted little time in dousing tension and acrimony among the people.
He first established the Ministry of Internal Security and Ethical Orientation, the first of its kind in the North East and convened series of meetings with traditional rulers, religious leaders and community leaders from all segments of Gombe society harping on the need to eschew violence, hate speech, religious acrimony and communal discord in order to evolve lasting peace and harmony among the people.
Governor Yahaya also created a strong platform where community and religious leaders were enlisted to participate in the formulation and execution of security related policies. The astute Gombe helmsman also adopted dialogue and conciliation as an effective strategy for the settlement of communal disputes as in many instances ethnic, tribal or land disputes were settled through the engagement of traditional and community leaders.
More practically, Governor Inuwa Yahaya adopted the community policing technique to fight crime and criminality seeing that the recruitment of special constables, vigilantes and local hunters with special knowledge of the community would boost the fight against hardened criminals while dedicated hotlines were provided to community policing committees to promptly report security breaches to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The formal security agencies like the Army, Police, DSS, Civil Defence, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, FRSC etc were not left out as Governor Inuwa Yahaya holds regular meetings and briefings with their state commanders while their commands were assisted with funds and to boost their supplies, logistics and equipment.
The Community Policing Advisory Committee chaired by the Emir of Gombe HRH Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar lll and the reconstituted Farmer-Herdsmen Prevention and Settlement of Disputes Committee at the state and local levels have greatly contributed to enhancing security and settling land/grazing rights disputes.
Governor Yahaya’s integrated approach to security has also involved the engagement of the youths through the establishment of a Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre in Yamaltu Deba for the regular training of youths in early warning systems and quick response to security breaches; the setting up of Gombe State, Security, Traffic and Environmental Corps( G-STEC) which has employed 2,000 youths in various public order operations and the engagement of over 27,000 youths to plant over 4 million trees across Gombe State to reverse deforestation and desertification under the Gombe Goes Green(3G) Project.
With all these laudable projects, policies and initiatives geared towards fighting crime, promoting mutual dialogue and advancing peaceful cohabitation among the citizens of the state coupled with his unbiased, equitable and balanced approach to political and public service appointments as well as the citing of key projects in all the 11 local governments in Gombe State thus enthroning unprecedented peace and harmony, it is clear that Governor Inuwa Yahaya doubly deserves the Grand Ambassador Award of Security and Peace in Nigeria.
No wonder, the Sultan of Sokoto once described Governor Inuwa as a truthful, passionate, accountable and steadfast leader with passion for peace, unity and development of his state and Nigeria.
FADAHUNSI E. ABAYOMI, AN INTEGRATED SECURITY EXPERT WROTE IN FROM WUSE, FCT