David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi, says he is willing to dialogue with bandits in a bid to resolve the insecurity in the state.
Umahi spoke on Friday at the presentation of 40 Toyota Sienna vehicles and 20 Hilux vans to security agencies for enhanced operations in the state.
Attacks by gunmen on Ebonyi communities have heightened tension between herders in the state and their host communities.
Several security facilities in the state have also been attacked by gunmen.
Umahi said Nigerian youths are aggrieved, adding that leaders must find a way of engaging them in order to bring the current partial breakdown of law and order under control.
He said most of the demands of certain people in the south-east are legitimate and the government must sit down to discuss with them.
The governor said he has directed local government chairmen and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to identify the bandits and present them for debriefing.
“I want to talk to the bandits and empower them as we cannot continue to kill ourselves and destroy public infrastructure,” Umahi said.
“The bandits are our children and I am pained when they or the security agencies are killed. I want to ascertain their grievances against the Ebonyi or federal government, collate the facts for discussions to commence.”
Umahi regretted that Nigerian leaders had failed to engage citizens from the onset, saying the security challenges would not have worsened to what the country is witnessing currently.
“Our nation is so much on at a crossroad, and this is the time that all leaders must take responsibility,” he said.
“I was shocked when people are announcing the date for 2023 elections. It is very unfortunate. The nation is quite challenged now, and it’s not a matter of Mr. President or the Governor. All leaders must take responsibility at this stage.
“These problems we are into is because we leaders fail to secure the future of our children, and we still have not changed.
“So it is a time to have a rethink; the resources of this nation can build this nation.
“And I continue to maintain that there is no segment of Nigeria that is not bitter with itself or bitter with another region or bitter with government, and this is the time to forget about whether you are banned.
“It’s a time to engage. Use the good people that know the bad people to engage and discuss. We must not continue to pretend that all is well. If we had engaged from the beginning, we will not be where we are now.
“Our youths are angry. The resources of our nation are the responsibility of all leaders to deploy rightly. I don’t believe that we are doing that.
“So, let’s forget about 2023 and mend fences and let leaders of this country begin to mind their words. It is not the north versus.
“We can’t continue to ignore the agitations of all the regions of this country.”