By Our Reporter
The National Democratic Front (NDF), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in Borno State, following the renewed spate of politically instigated insecurity in Borno State.
The group also asked the President to stop the local government allocations to the state as those profiting from it have refused to let peace reign in Borno State.
This was disclosed in a speech by the Secretary General of the National Democratic Front (NDF), Dr. Abdulkadir Bolaji , on the security situation in Nigeria at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja.
NDF was reacting to the killing of about 30 persons in Auno area of the state by the dreaded Boko Haram elements.
Bolaji said the current governor of the state, Prof Babagana Zulum and his predecessor, Kashim Shetima must be investigated over the nagging security situation in the state.
Full text of his speech below.
Early this week, the nation woke up to the news of another round of violence, mayhem, arson and bloodletting by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.”
In that particular incident, which happened at Auno, a little town few kilometers to the Borno State capital, Maiduguri and where a gate had been constructed to prevent sudden attacks by insurgents through the major road leading to the state capital, more than 30 persons were said to have been killed while many other were wounded and left for dead and property worth millions of naira burnt to ashes.
With gory tales of humans burnt alive, it was a tragedy of enormous proportion that could only have been done by the worst dregs of humans.
Borno State which has suffered much pains and sorrow due to the activities of these terrorists over the years and certainly does not deserve another round of such heinous crime and wanton bloodletting.
We sympathize with the people of the state over this tragedy and pray for fortitude for the families of those who have lost loved ones to bear the losses.
While we join the rest of the world to mourn this tragedy, we must not lose sight of the fact that the sudden resurgence of violence and the boldness exhibited by the terrorist groups operating in the fringes of the Northeast of Nigeria are not beyond human conspiracies.
We note particularly that it was few days after the governor of Borno state, Prof. Babagana Zulum made the infamous statement that security agents who have sacrificed their lives to ensure the safety of other citizens are extorting money from motorists and other travelers that the violence on the road escalated.
“This is not without reason.
“In conflict of such proportions, apart from the weaponry used, one of the effective ways of either dampening or boosting the morale of the warring sides is the use of information.
Information serves as signals to troops and other armed groups in conflict as it exposes the readiness or otherwise of the warring sides.
What the Zulum statement, as harmless as it looked did at this instance, was to write off the efforts of the military in the fight against insurgency and to lay on them a moral burden that will dampen their spirit for days.
As this was going on, the terrorists who also have military experts among them carefully processed the comments by the governor and weighed its effect and set out to work at the time because they knew the governor by his remarks had done incalculable damage to the moral of the soldiers on the battle field and immediately came out of their sleeper cells and launched attacks on major towns especially on the Damaturu- Maidudguri axis.
Those who ply the Damaturu- Maiduguri road would agree that this is not the first time the gate at Auno would be closed to travelers a given time and that those who arrive after the closing time had to sleep there till the next day.
The essence of closing the road as stated earlier, was to prevent a situation where the insurgents would launch a surprise attack on Maiduguri as they had threatened to do several times through that route and the strategy had worked for years as it had kept the blood thirsty group at bay for several years.
Unfortunately when Zulum made the comment, they took advantage of the effect that was bound to set in to try to establish their presence as usual, killing people.
What people should ask is whether the Zulum statement is a one off thing done ignorantly or one that was deliberately to cause confusion in the camp of the military.
You will recall that the governor had made similar provocative statements afterward reprimanding senior military officers in the presence of their juniors.
It is a well known fact that the military thrives on order, discipline and hierarchy, it is usually counterintuitive for senior officers to be exposed to ridicule in the presence of their juniors.
As much as possible, the military tradition favours preserving the dignity of senior officers who would be giving orders to their juniors.
Much as Zulum was praised in some quarters for speaking out against what was clearly his perception, the fact remains that the same Zulum will not tolerate a situation for instance where the President would scold him in the presence of his commissioners or local government chairmen.
Many did not fail to notice that while a few were praising Zulum for the comment, those who travel on the Damaturu- Madiduguri road regularly were apprehensive saying the statement is capable of worsening the security situation in the state.
They said they were even prepared to pay even thrice what the Governor claimed the security agents were extorting from travelers than be left to die in the hands of the murderous Boko Haram.
Their worst fear however came to pass when the insurgents re-launched attacks on the road leading to the Auno tragedy.
Much as it looks like a one off thing, we cannot fail to draw a parallel between what the governor said, what happened in Auno and what happened during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
We have observed that it is whenever peace and security is attained in Borno and the Federal authorities or any other body starts talking about conducting local government elections in the state, that is when there would be a relapse to violence and the flood gate would be opened to the terrorists to operate.
We recall that the abduction of the Chibok girls happened when there was relative calm in Borno state and the opposition parties then started demanding for local government elections to be conducted in the state.
It is an open secret that state governors use the allocations of their local governments in their states as their personal resources.
The case of Borno state is even worse as the state has not witnessed local government elections since the upscale of insurgency.
What this means is that the governor reserves the right under a caretaker on interim arrangement to appoint his cronies to man the affairs of the local councils.
With 23 local governments, what accrues to Borno as local government funds are quite huge and since there are no elected structures at the third tier level, it is at the discretion of the governor and his appointees to dispense the funds.
You will recall that at a time, 14 local governments in the state were under the control of the Boko Haram yet they continued to receive their allocations from the center.
There is no doubt that since President Muhammadu Buahri came on board as President in 2015, much has been achieved in the area of security with many of the local government under captivity of the Boko Haram freed and many Internally Displaced persons, IDps, returning to their communities.
This laudable feat it would appear is not acceptable to some as it would deprive them of the opportunities of bilking the third tier arm of government.
Was it a coincidence that it was immediately after the Federal government started talking about ensuring democratic structures are put in place at the local government levels in all the states of the federation and the possibility of conducting elections at that level that the Borno State governor made his infamous statement leading to the demoralization of troops and the emboldening of the terrorists?
People might say that the Borno State Governor is naïve politically given that he had just assumed office, but people should not forget that he owes his ascendancy to certain forces who would want their interests protected.
You will also notice that recently whenever there is an attack in any part of Borno State, the governor would be first to arrive and will continue with his invectives on the military top brass and the following day, the call for the change of service chiefs would top national discourse.
In view of the above, we hold that the politicians in Borno State have failed us and the government needs to do something urgently.
We call on the Federal Government to in view if the security implication of major politicians in Borno State discontinue releasing allocations to the local governments in the state until elections are conducted at the local government level.
We also call on the Federal government to declare a state of emergency in Borno State to forestall further attacks due to carelessness on the part of the political leadership in the state.