Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi has declared his intention to negotiate with bandits to ascertain their grievances and the way forward.
Mr Umahi made the declaration on Friday in Abakaliki at the presentation of 40 Toyota Sienna vehicles and 20 Hilux vans to security agencies for enhanced operations in the state.
The governor 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.
“The bandits are our children and I am pained when they or the security agencies are killed.
“I want to ascertain their grievances against Ebonyi or the federal government, and collate the facts for discussions to commence,” he said.
He expressed disappointment over the announcement of guidelines for the 2023 elections, noting that the nation was at a crossroad for such engagement.
“Let us forget about the 2023 elections with the leaders taking responsibility for the situation and discussing a way forward.
“No one takes money to the grave and when we hear a gunshot, we will run and abandon the money we amassed.
“This is not a period to discuss political parties but ensure that the resources of this nation which can truly transform it is judiciously utilised,” he said.
Mr Umahi debunked the insinuation that members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) or Eastern Security Network (ESN) were after him, insisting that he has discharged his duties to the people.
Secretary to the State Government, Kenneth Ugbala, said that the presentation was the first batch of the 100 Sienna vehicles and 40 utility vehicles to be procured for security agencies.
“The governor has fully paid for the 40 Sienna vehicles and 20 Hilux vans being presented as the recipients are charged to judiciously utilise the vehicles,” he said.
The heads of various security agencies, top government officials, youth groups among other stakeholders, were present at the ceremony.