With the growing spate of insecurity in Northern Nigeria, the Arewa Economic Forum (AEF) has advocated the establishment of a regional security outfit as obtained in the South to complement the efforts of the military and police.

The Chairman of AEF, an economic think-tank of intellectuals and business entrepreneurs of Northern Nigeria, Mallam Ibrahim Yahaya Dandakata, noted that the path to success for the North lies in creating an enabling environment where people can live peacefully, and businesses thrive smoothly, which is by tackling the issue of insecurity head-on.

He pointed out that for too long, insecurity has stunted the growth of people and instilled fear in Northern communities where farmers cannot till their lands, businesses cannot operate freely, and students cannot go to school in peace.

The AEF leader, in a statement issued at the weekend, advised the 19 Northern states to “adopt the concept of regional security outfit, drawing inspiration from successful models like Amotekun Security Network in the Southwest, which offer several advantages”.

“These outfits should leverage local knowledge and understanding to allow for more nuanced responses to diverse security threats; foster collaboration and resource sharing among northern states, thereby maximising impact and efficiency. The initiative will also empower communities by integrating existing vigilante groups into the system, fostering trust and cooperation,” Dandakata said.

“In the long run, establishing a dedicated Security Trust Fund is crucial to support the effectiveness of these outfits. The Fund can ensure sustainable financing for training, equipment, and operational costs by pooling resources from state governments, donations, and other sources.

“Because of their financial stability, the security outfits will have more autonomy and are less dependent on the federal government, which has frequently shown signs of being overburdened when handling requests for regional security.

“Once security is guaranteed, the North may finally concentrate on realising its enormous potential. Our people are resourceful, our land is fertile, and there is no denying our business drive,” he said.

On the economy, rather than bickering on relocating some government departments from the North to the South, Dandakata suggested modernising the agricultural sector and the developing small and medium-sized businesses.

“We must modernise our agricultural sector by investing in technology and infrastructure that boost yields and decrease post-harvest losses to maximise and make the most significant use of our rich resources. In addition to ensuring food security, this will strengthen rural economies and generate jobs,” Dandakata said.

“Notwithstanding, our leaders—wealthy and competent people—must adopt the mindset of promoting and aiding small and medium-sized businesses, which are the foundation of any thriving economy. Through the streamlining of regulatory procedures, finance accessibility and the promotion of an innovative culture, we can unleash the creative potential of our people as quickly as feasible,” he said.

He further said that prioritising education was necessary to guarantee that every child gets access to high-quality instruction, adding that this would entail investing in curriculum development, instructors, classrooms, and laboratories, as well as maintaining a solid connection to the rich cultural past while embracing science and technology.

“Similarly, we must fortify our healthcare system and ensure everyone can afford it. This entails advancing preventive care, educating medical professionals, and enhancing infrastructure. Remember the saying: a healthy population is a productive population,” Dandakata said.

“Finally, Northern states must draw in foreign and local investments by lowering red tape, simplifying government processes, and providing alluring incentives. The fuel that will run our economy’s engine is investment.

“We wish to highlight the critical role that micro-scale firms play. These tiny, regional businesses are sometimes disregarded, but they are essential to reducing poverty, creating jobs, and fostering community growth. We demand that micro-entrepreneurs receive focused support from the government and development partners, including microcredit, training, and marketing help.

“But economic growth on its own is insufficient. Our society’s moral fabric is another issue we need to address. We need to recommit to working hard, being honest, and having integrity if we want to create a truly thriving North. We must reject corruption, laziness and all forms of social vices. It is time to hold ourselves accountable and live up to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

“We urge the government at all levels to redouble its efforts in combating this issue. We call for increased investment in security personnel and infrastructure, improved intelligence gathering and collaboration, and a strong commitment to upholding the rule of law,” he said.