Former Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf, said he saw teenage bandits carrying guns in the forests.
He said this was an experience he witnessed when he was part of the delegation that followed Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi to discuss with bandits ravaging the North-West region.
Usman said the nation’s elders have lost control of their youths resulting in different security lapses in Nigeria, adding that only peaceful talks with the aggrieved youths can solve the problem.
He, therefore, declared that as important as the army is, military approach is not a solution to banditry and other security challenges the country is battling with.
Yusuf disclosed this during City Talks programme with Reuben Abati on Saturday.
“This is a serious problem in this country. In any society that the elders have lost control of their youths, they are going to have problem.
“When I went with Sheikh Gumi to talk to the bandits, I was sad with what I saw in the forests. What I saw in the forests is pathetic. I saw like fourteen and fifteen years olds carrying guns. Guns they can hardly handle unless on drugs. Many of them have lost their parents.
“The biggest problem is that their grouses are local. They are not telling us that they have problem with President or with the Vice President. Most of their grouses are local. Sheikh Gumi went there to listen.
“We’ve not been hearing them. We’ve not been listening. He wasn’t there to negotiate. He wasn’t there to ask for amnesty for anybody. If we don’t hear the grievances of both sides, we will just continue to kill ourselves,” Usman said.
The professor of Medicine also called on the elder statesmen and political leaders across the country to dialogue with the agitators and aggrieved youths in the six geo-political zones to restore peace to Nigeria.
“Rehabilitation is a complete thing. It’s not drug alone. Let me tell you this. This is honest truth, all the communities in this country from the south to the north, north east, south west, elders have lost control of their youths.
“We’ve seen it and elders have seen it. The Fulani elders have lost control of their youths, that’s why you see the Fulani youths on drugs and doing this banditry. Kanuri elders have lost control of their youths, that’s why you see Boko Haram.
“Igbo elders have lost control of their youths, that’s why Nnamdi Kanu has small capital in the South-East than any of these politicians talking in Abuja. South-West elders have lost control of their youths youths too, that’s why during #EndSARS, there was no single elder that could come and call these youths to order,” Yusuf said.