by Kashim Shettima
Fellow, and dear citizens of Borno State,
In recent days and weeks, we have come under renewed and augmented attacks, waged against all of us, by an armed minority that seeks to impose on us, a doctrine that is completely at variance with the religion of Islam which they claim to promote; a doctrine that negates the dignity and existence of humanity on earth, despite Allah’s decree in the glorious Quran, that He has dignified the human creature, prohibited unjust killings and made the religion of Islam that which does not sanction compulsion in a multi-faith society like ours.
Several innocent communities in Gwoza, Damboa, Askira/Uba, Marte, Chibok, Konduga, Dikwa and the most recent, Bama, have had young and old, amongst them children, weak old men and women, killed in cold blood, their homes destroyed and thousands forced to flee, with some trekking over hurtful distances to become refugees within and outside Borno State. Our Capital City of Maiduguri is today facing a heavy influx of refugees from the local government areas in Borno. Borno citizens have been forced to take refuge in parts of Gombe and Adamawa States mainly on account of man’s inhumanity to fellow man in the gratuitous name of religion. These acts are absolutely condemnable in the strongest of terms.
Let me use this opportunity to once again, extend my deepest sympathy to the families of all those who lost their lives in these serial massacres that are designed to send Borno and its people into oblivion, but which will not succeed insha Allah. I also express my very deep sympathy to all victims who either lost property or are taking refuge. Our heart as Government is fully with each and every one of you and we will do everything humanly possible to support you, reclaim your communities, rebuild them and give all of you a new lease of life insha Allah. We will be supporting you as a matter obligation to you as good citizens. You have a right to be supported in distress. You have even more fundamental right to be protected from fear and attack in the first place.
The number one duty of Government is to safeguard the lives and property of the citizenry. However laudable policies and programmes of Government could be, no matter the beauty of infrastructures put in place, they would all amount to less than nothing if human lives are not secured. As Government, we are more than mindful of this constitutional, moral and spiritual obligation. As Governor of Borno State, I am unforgettably aware that for every life that is lost in Borno State, I will account before Allah on the Day of Judgement if that life is lost on the basis of deliberate failures on my part, to do what I have the powers, resources and influence to do. This administration has never and insha Allah will never abdicate from its obligations to citizens. We have done, and still doing everything within the limits of our powers and resources, to complement the duty of the Federal Government to safeguard lives and property.
Immaterial as it may sound, we have through combined efforts with the Military, the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Security; our youth volunteers called the civilian JTF and other para-military organizations averted so many planned attacks. However, this assertion will hardly make sense to most citizens, in a situation where many attacks have been successfully carried out with elevated mass killings and destructions in the past and in very recent days and weeks. Citizens have very legitimate reasons to be aggrieved by the current situation in Borno State. We are pained as your Government. We are in this together. As Governor, I feel a sense of not just responsibility but an even personal loss whenever any attack is recorded no matter what part of the State is affected and who is or are involved. We are in this together.
Borno state has been facing this Boko Haram challenge since the four day war of July 2009 in Maiduguri when the Boko Haram waged its major war on Borno’s soil. Having been defeated by our determined armed forces, insurgents resorted to Guerilla warfare that has been raging on for the last four years. At least one third of our local government areas have been affected by their attacks with different degrees of intensity and periodic occupation.
In the history of Borno since 19th century, this is however not the first threat to our existence as a people. We had faced and survived threats in years past and we shall survive this insha Allah. We are confident of victory through a reinforcement of our armed forces and the collective will of all of us, citizens, who are committed to defeating the Boko Haram scourge. Collectively as a people, we have exhibited great determination. Our youth volunteers have made us proud. We are all in this, fellow citizens. We all have roles to play. One of these roles is the devoted offer of prayers and ceaseless appeal to the Almighty to make us victorious.
In the past, our armed forces have proven their mettle even in global warfare where they were in foreign terrain in the Second World War, in the Congo, in Liberia, in Sierra Leon, in the Sudan and elsewhere. Our armed forces have also, during the Civil War, successfully saved our country from dismemberment. Our armed forces that have outstandingly proven their capability in such difficult times can by the grace Allah defeat the Boko Haram insurgency with overwhelming federal reinforcement in all areas of their needs. We strongly appeal to the federal government to redouble its present efforts so that the nation will be a historic witness to speedy containment of the Boko Haram insurgency. The Borno State Government will continue to do whatever it can to compliment the constitutional roles of the Federal Government in this battle of ours.
Let me reassure the good people of Borno State that measures have been taken by the Federal Government based on information available to us as Government. With these steps and our combined efforts as State Government and resilient people, we shall overcome this tribulation. We must be very forth coming with useful information on what we hear or see because our safety start with what we tell not what we keep or bury. Hiding information that threatens us never helps us or others. We must be very vigilant in all our communities. We must take copious note of anyone or anything strange around us but without raising false alarm or spreading any form of rumour that will cause panic. Let us try to reach out to those in position of authority to verify information concerning public safety or related matters.
The Borno State Radio and Television is directed to immediately come up with a Television and Radio programme designed with public telephone lines that can be reached by citizens for enquiries on public issues in relation to security, help in orientation and mobilisation of victims, as well as helping them in locating missing loved ones and friends where there are such matters and keeping citizens regularly updated on matters affecting security, victims support and their comfort. I appeal to other media houses to kindly assist in this effort.
The Ministries concerned with Home Affairs and Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs are directed to immediately make available public lines that can be reached by any victim from any affected local government area.
Similarly, the Ministry of Health is directed to put in place an immediate Mobile Task Force on Insurgency Victims Health that should be moving round Maiduguri and environs to source for and attend to the health needs of victims on both emergency and lesser cases; ensure the existence of clinics in all victims camps and coordinate the efficiency of the clinics to guarantee the availability of health personnel at all times, drugs, ambulances and other required materials. The Ministry has my express permission to commit Government in the event of any critical medical need involving ascertained victim of this unfortunate insurgency from any affected community.
Government is not unaware of the multi-facet effects of insurgent attacks on other spheres of human lives in affected communities in terms of food security, means of livelihood and access to education among others.
Already, the State Government has taken measures to acquire food stuffs for free distribution to affected citizens. Government has purchased thousands of bags of food stuffs and more is being acquired. On the issue of means of livelihood, the Secretary to the State Government is to chair a High level and Enlarged Victims Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Support Team that will soon meet and work with stakeholders in affected communities to assist victims on a permanent measure.
On access to education, Government has observed a high scale requirement of admissions into primary and secondary school especially from guardians who seek slots at orphanage schools in Maiduguri and Biu in particular, for orphans whose parents were killed as a result of the insurgency.
Consequently, a team of respected academics, school administrators and educationalists will be inaugurated by me next week, with the mandate of coming up with State Primary and Secondary Schools for Special Citizens to be cited in Maiduguri and Biu for the time being. The schools are to be designed to accommodate high capacity of pupils with modern boarding facilities. Every child admitted into that school is to be on full Government scholarship from basic to University Education. Members of the public willing to make donations will be entertained to a ‘Adoption of child Education Programme’ though which kind citizens can adopt the education of a child, two or more, through well organised system that can be monitored by every sponsor who must be entitled to all academic and attitudinal record of an adoptee. While the team is to fine tune this idea, the Ministry of Education is directed to identify and enrol affected children into temporary public schools in Maiduguri and Biu or in the alternative, create temporary special school sites for affected children to start having immediate access to education soon as schools open.
Fellow citizens, Fellow citizens, we shall at all times be responsive to our duties as Government. We are very much committed to doing just everything that we can do. Borno State has been in the eye of the storm; we have suffered deaths, destruction and hardships on scales never witnessed in the annals of our long and glorious history. We have experienced unprecedented sorrow, tears and blood. We must all work for peace. To work for peace is to covet and protect it. In seeking peace, those of us who mean well for this State, must not only remain united, we must strive to consolidate this unity. Defeating the insurgency is a collective task that must be done, we must not be distracted. We must remain united, focused and vigilant. I will particularly like to direct this appeal to our heroes, the galant and courageous youth volunteers, the Civilian JTF. They must remain united and focused more than ever before.
The Civilian JTF must at all times have at the back of their minds that Allah (SWT) in his infinite wisdom and mercy is using them to support security agencies to rescue our state from the advocates of hate and destruction. The people of Borno are very grateful to them for their undying love and sacrifices. As Government which is holding the sacred mandate of the people, we will remain supportive of the civilian JTF as we have been. Our support for the military, police and other security agencies is that of a shared battle against the forces of darkness. We shall accelerate our focus on jobs creation to discourage idleness and criminality. We shall speed up ongoing infrastructures to deliver on our promises to make Borno a better place, a remodeled State, a great home we will all be proud of. Borno is our home. This is why I returned home amidst rumored fears held by some residents on possible attacks on Maiduguri. I cut short my official trip and returned home so we can be together as we have always been in trying to overcome the threat before us. I am confident that together we can overcome this challenge. Our condition cannot be permanent, no condition, ever was. We can overcome this problem with the right attitude from the top to the bottom. Indeed we can.
May Allah give us the fortitude to bear the loss of those killed in this crisis, May He grant us peace and guide those of us in leadership, to work selflessly for Borno to become a better place for all of us, and for our children.
Long live Borno State!
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!
I thank you very profoundly for your tremendous support and for listening to me today as you always did in the past.
Kashim Shettima is the Governor of Borno State