•Says Borno state still faced with great security challenges
The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima has admitted that the reality is that Borno State as at today is still faced with great security challenges, which may spill over to the next administration after the 2019 general elections.
Shettima himself inherited the Boko Haram terrorism from his predecessor, Sen. Ali Mordu Sherrif.
He however insisted that his “greatest wish was and still is, not to bequeath Boko Haram challenges and IDP Camps to my successor.”
Addressing an assemblage of military, security, traditional, media, religious and political leadership at an emergency meeting on Monday to address the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the state, Shettima said the aim of convening the meeting was not to pass blames or to pass any kind of verdict on the security agencies.
He said: “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 and give suggestions that will hopefully contribute to the combined ongoing efforts towards addressing the problem.”
He admitted that: “For seven years, we held our regular security council meetings. I have 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 dramatization or being sensational about our challenges in Borno State.”
He said: 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.”
He revealed that: “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.”
He said: “The realities, Your Royal highnesses, invited participants, 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.”
He said his meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari on security in Borno State have shown “his absolute sincerity in terms of his deep concern, his empathy and his compassion towards our plight in the northeast, particularly in Borno.”
He added that: “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 mobilized world leaders in support of Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.
“He has fostered regional cooperation and he supports troops.”
He said: “Some persons have asked why I have not criticized 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 defense of the soldiers being killed in front lines. I knew the problems.”
He said: “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.
“All security agencies and the federal government (including the previous Jonathan administration) have strongly acknowledged the role of the Civilian JTF in the successes recorded by the military. From 2013 to date, Borno State Government has been solely responsible for funding the Civilian JTF in terms of their training, their allowances, deployment, operational vehicles and their kits. We will continue to support the Civilian JTF, our military, the police and all other security agencies. We have secretly been engaging hunters in some areas without making noise. We believe security of lives is what makes government legitimate.”
He told the gathering that: “Your royal highnesses, invited participants, everyone here has been playing one or more roles in the fight against Boko Haram. This fight is a collective one that affects all of us. We all have stakes in the peace and stability of Borno and this is why we chose to hold an extraordinary security meeting with carefully chosen participants. There are many important stakeholders that were not invited and it is not because they do not matter but because we wanted to minimize our number.
“We deliberately did not invite persons on individual basis in order to prevent perceptions or feelings of alienation. Even as this gathering is constituted, it is too large from a security point of view. Nevertheless, we are at a point in which we needed to convene a meeting of this nature so as to form a broader and more inclusive platform to listen to each other, to hopefully generate some new ideas. To chart a new course and to also rebuild public confidence.”
“I wish us a meaningful meeting and not a tea party. I will at this point thank and request our friends in the media to allow us hold a closed door meeting. I will like to say also that we are not issuing a communique. Whatever we resolve will be transmitted to the President, Commander In Chief in writing and not for public consumption,” he said.