The Forum of Presidents of Youth Organisations in the Middle Belt Region, has urged the Federal Government to urgently convene a national dialogue to address the insecurity situation in Nigeria.
The forum made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting held on Friday in Abuja, which was read by its President and Coordinator of Benue Youth Forum, Terrence Kuanum.
The forum urged that the dialogue should be followed by the National Council of State meeting to find workable solutions to the spate of killings in some parts of the country.
The forum expressed concern over insecurity, economic and unemployment situations in the Middle Belt.
“The Middle Belt is currently rated as the region with the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country.
“The forum is deeply saddened by the spate of insecurity in parts of the Middle Belt region which has left thousands of people dead and rendered many others homeless.
“The forum sympathises with families of victims of attacks carried out by herdsmen, bandits and other terrorists operating in the Middle Belt.
“The forum equally sympathises with families of security personnel who have lost their lives in the course of defending the people of the region and other parts of the country,’’ it stated.
The forum endorsed the use of vigilante groups and neighbourhood watches to safe guard rural communities in addition to the conventional security agencies.
The presidents of youth organisations in the region expressed its support for the adoption of ranching as the most viable solution to the farmers/herders crisis within the region.
While commending Benue for being the pathfinder in the ranching revolution in Nigeria, it urged other states to as a matter of urgency embrace ranching as the global best practice of animal husbandry.
“It is the stand of the Forum that Nigeria is ripe for implementation of a Policy on ranching as captured in the National Livestock Transformation Plan that was adopted by the National Economic Council (NEC).
“This Forum believes that the policy will not only protect farming communities from attacks and herdsmen from cattle rustling but also lead to environmental protection, security of lives and property as well as guarantee food security.’’
The Forum urged the Federal Government to increase the funding and equipping of security agencies, and to recruit additional police personnel and improve on their training to enable them confront criminals.
It called the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute the leadership of any socio-cultural group that had admitted to the wanton killings and destruction of communities across the country.
It also condemned the insecurity situation in Kaduna State, particularly the frequent terrorist attacks on Southern Kaduna, saying the state governor had not done enough to address it.
The forum called for allocation of more funds to states and local governments from the Federation Account.
The forum sympathised with Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Niger and other states which had millions of internally displaced people living in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camps.
It urged the Federal Government to fulfill its promise of assisting the states facing humanitarian crisis to facilitate resettlement of the IDPs to their ancestral homes.
It also recommended that local governments should take 23 per cent of the Federal Allocation, states should get 42 per cent, while the Federal Government takes 35 per cent.
The Forum equally calls on states to step up their efforts in improving Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to tackle development challenges and make life more meaningful for their people.’’
The forum also called on the National Assembly to enact a law conferring the status of a state on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). (NAN)