The Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, on Monday night raised alarm that the security situation in the state was getting worse.
He also explained why he has not criticised President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue, saying the President had given him unfettered access to the Presidency on the crisis.
Governor Shettima’s statement came at a time the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, warned the federal government to quickly nip in the bud the killings in Zamfara State to prevent emergence of another Boko Haram crisis in the state.
The governor, who spoke an at extraordinary security meeting at Government House, Maiduguri, to discuss the worsening security situation in the state, attended by traditional rulers, security chiefs, Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, and other stakeholders, said: “Your royal highnesses and our elders, I will like to start by saying that the aim of convening this important meeting is not to pass blames or to pass any kind of verdict on our security agencies.
“I think the most inhuman way to go is to gather and condemn those who are putting their lives on the line and giving their lives in efforts to find peace.
“We are principally here as a family, as a people all affected by the situation in Borno State, to discuss suggestions that will hopefully contribute to combined ongoing efforts towards addressing the problem.
“For seven years, we held our regular security council meetings. I from to time consult with some of the participants here. However, I never for once convene an extraordinary meeting of this nature because, frankly speaking, I was avoiding a sort of dramatisation or being sensational about our challenges in Borno State.
“Without being insensitive to the realities of our situation, I feel deeply pained whenever Borno is being discussed on the basis of helpless weakness. I prefer to assume a position of strength; a position of normalcy and a character of being incurably optimistic.
”It was in these regards that we created a full-fledged Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement and deployed enormous public resources to rebuild more than 30,000 homes of citizens, hospitals, water installations, local government secretariats, schools and palaces of traditional rulers.
“It was with the same mind that we kept on pushing for voluntary and dignified return of displaced citizens to safe and rebuilt communities.
“My greatest wish was and still is, not to bequeath Boko Haram challenges and IDP Camps to my successor. We wanted to, and still want to get Borno fully back to normal days. Sometimes, I unconsciously find myself boasting that Borno is safer than Lagos. I simply feel very bad to sound pessimistic about Borno. I so much believe in optimism.
“Of course, I know that in governance, responding to some situations demand a combination of being both optimistic and realistic. The reality is that while so much was achieved by our gallant military men and women, we are today faced with serious challenges in Borno State.
”But then, these challenges should strengthen our abiding faith and resolve to continually do whatever we can, in support of our military, the police, the DSS, our Civilian JTF, all para-military agencies and political authorities at the federal level, to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
“I have met the President a number of times, including a few weeks ago. I have led our national assembly members to the President and in all our discussions, we all saw on the face, in words and actions of the President, absolute sincerity in terms of his deep concern, his empathy and his compassion towards our plight in the northeast, particularly in Borno.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is without the slightest doubt, devoted to the fight against Boko Haram. I believe that service chiefs, the IGP, the DG of DSS and heads of all para-military agencies share the commitment of Mr President.
“Most importantly, troops in the front lines have with their own lives, proved their commitment in the service of our country and in obedience to the President, Commander In Chief. The President has mobilised world leaders in support of Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram. He has fostered regional cooperation and he supports troops.
“Some persons have asked why I have not criticised the Buhari government or the Nigerian military over situations in Borno. My response to them is that unlike in previous years when I was treated as an enemy of the Presidency, I have from 2015 to date, gained unfettered access to the President.
”I see the Commander-In-Chief at the shortest request and I tell him my concerns, he listens to me with keen interest and in most cases, he takes measures. I have not had reason to be frustrated with the Presidency, unlike previous years.
“Let me say that even under the previous administration, I regularly supported and defended the military. When I said in February 2014, that the military was not being well equipped, it was not a comment by design, it was a spontaneous reaction which came out of frustration and it was in defence of the soldiers being killed in front lines.
”I knew the problems. Some people have said I was later vindicated. Nigerians can bear witness that from 2011 to date, I prefer to speak from a position of strength rather than a position of hopelessness.
“I prefer to inspire our military and citizens. I prefer to make security matters as discrete as possible. There were times I managed to see the former President but our meetings were always in haste.
”There were times I resorted to writing him for the record. I remember one specific instance I wrote a strong letter in 2013, over serious concerns raised by the Nigerian Air Force command in Borno State, and I have to admit that President Jonathan took immediate measures on that.
“As a state government, we have done and will continue to do everything humanly possible in support of the fight against Boko Haram. We have given very serious financial, moral and political support to the counter-insurgency.”
Meanwhile, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, has raised alarm that unless the federal government quickly dealt with the killings in Zamfara State, it could snowball into a bigger problem, reminiscent of Boko Haram.
The JNI in a statement issued by Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, the Secretary-General, Tuesday, entitled ”Silence no longer golden,” said the wanton destruction of lives and property by bandits in the state was unacceptable, lamenting that Zamfara State had become a theatre of dehumanisation and desecration of sanctity of human lives.
The statement read: ”This is utterly reprehensible and unacceptable, for hooligans and way-wards to hold a whole state to ransom to no avail. Where is the government? Where are the security agencies? Where are the political, community and religious leaders?
”Where is our conscience? Where is the humanness in us? Above all, where is our Islam? Where is the Qur’an and its pristine teachings? Where is the Prophetic guidance in his Sunnah? Equally painful is the return of insurgency in some parts of Borno and Yobe states, with wanton destruction of lives and properties.
”Why must all these bloodletting be allowed to resurface? All these re-occurring acts of terrorism, dehumanisation, sacrilege of sanctity of life and all forms of wickedness are utterly and unreservedly condemned in their entirety and government must go beyond mere condemnations.
”The Zamfara State carnage has now claimed uncountable number of lives and destruction of properties, and has continued unabated for years. What then is the essence of government and security outfits? We should all be reminded that, that was how Boko Haram insurgency started and it has now snowballed into a full blown security threat to the nation!
”We must not see it as a face up to Zamfara state, as already spillover of it, has been witnessed in Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto Kebbi and Katsina states in the name of armed banditry and kidnappings. It is so disheartening that after attacks are lunched on settlements, sporadic gun shots follow and then setting the communities ablaze ensues in Zamfara State.
”Where is the humanity in us? This is very bothersome and calls for realistic investigation that must bring similar occurrence(s) to a final end.
”It is hardly imaginable that such pusillanimous and evil acts could still occur in Zamfara State, despite frequent assurances by government and so called security briefings said to be received, yet those charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizenry have not been able to curb the diabolical scourge of killing innocent souls. This is indeed very alarming.
”However, as Muslims we find solace that Allah, The Mighty is ever watchful of the plethora of the evils of the wicked and will requite them appropriately. It should however be noted that the evil that men do lives after them, and will continue to hunt them. Nonetheless, JNI will continue to ask questions: Who are the blood thirsty fellows?
”Why have they been allowed for years? Why have they not been arrested and interrogated? What has been the motive behind such repeated scandalous acts? Isn’t intelligence gathering supposed to aid security operatives and why is it not yielding the desired results?
”Why the renewed attacks now, just few months before the 2019 general elections? Must innocent bloods be split before every election in Nigeria? Isn’t the government ashamed that it cannot provide statutory responsibility of providing security to its citizenry?
”Why have the political gladiators in Zamfara State and beyond resort to exchanging unsavory words instead of resolving the matter? Indeed there is much more than meets the eyes.
”Certainly, just as with discerned Nigerians, JNI has been keenly following the unfolding events in Zamfara, Borno and Yobe states, overtime; which unfortunately climax with the recent serial massacres in Maradun, Tsafe, Birnin Magaji, Maru, Baga and Kukareta, among many others.
We, therefore, call on governments at all levels to do everything possible as a matter of urgency to stop these evil acts of terror repeatedly being unleashed on innocent souls and restore peace and security, which is their first constitutional role, as silence is no longer golden.”