Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima on Wednesday fired back at the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, over the latter’s remarks that the former did not make an enlightened judgment on the strengthen of the Nigerian military in relation to Boko Haram.
The governor had told State House correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Monday that the nation was in a war which she is not winning with Boko Haram, a sect which seems better motivated and equipped.
Only for Dr. Okupe to react at a press conference on Tuesday that the nation was not at war and that the governor’s assertion was nothing but from an uninformed civilian analysis of the situation.
But reacting to Shettima’s assessment, Okupe said: “We are certainly not involved in conventional warfare but rather engaged in guerrilla warfare with all its unpredictability. However, it is heartwarming that our military, which has participated in numerous international peace keeping operations where they helped to quell insurgencies, had acquired the sophistication and necessary capacity to adapt to the ever changing modus operandi of the insurgents.
“It is therefore wrong for anyone, Nigerian or foreigner, to assert that our armed forces cannot defeat the Boko Haram insurgents OT to insinuate that the insurgents are better armed. We believe strongly that the statement made by the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, that the insurgents are better armed than our military is based purely on a civilian perception of the situation at hand.”
But the Special Adviser on Media, to Shettima, Alhaji Isa Gusau, said: ‘I learnt of unfortunate remarks by Dr Doyin Okupe. The statement was rather unfair and insensitive to the sorrowful plight of Borno people and its government. It is an irony to realize that while Okupe didn’t find it worthy to hold a press briefing in sympathy with the people of Borno and to join in condemning the horrible serial attacks that left nearly 300 innocent citizens killed in February alone, he found it very urgent to try to take advantage of an honest opinion just to show his face on television in the name of doing his job.
“At the end, it is Okupe that would attract ill feelings of the people towards the Presidency and not his targeted prey.”
“The Governor’s very honest remark was a case of ‘one who wears the shoes knows where it pinches’. The Governor is the person on ground; he knows exactly what the problems are. As most Nigerians would testify, Shettima had been very patient before he aptly opened up and the sole aim was for Nigerians to appreciate the situation on ground. Unless if Dr Okupe wanted Governor Shettima to tell lies or to conceal the truth by deceiving Nigerians, or perhaps he wanted the people of Borno to die in silence.
Otherwise the Governor did the right thing any responsible leader should do in the circumstance he found himself. A leader must be bold enough to tell the truth so that solutions can be found to critical situations. Dr Doyin Okupe should kindly note that if he is finding a Governor to drive any rift with the Presidency, he has not found one in Kashim Shettima because those who know Shettima know him to be honest, courageous, respectful, humble but also dogged.
“Governor Shettima will certainly not be one of Okupe’s tools for showing face on TV. Okupe should kindly be reminded that as a Public Relations Officer, part of his job is to interprete situations correctly to the Presidency, attract goodwill and create more friends for the Presidency and not to create rift. As someone concerned with what Governor Shettima said, Dr Okupe would have scored a good point if he took time to visit Borno State, interact with the Government, the people and the military, especially those on the field so he could have first hand information, rather sitting in the comfort on his office in Abuja and disregarding the sensitivity of highly traumatic people for no other reason but cheap goal of showing he is working.”
“Governor Shettima assures the Presidency and the Nigerian Armed Forces of his highest respect and he is optimistic that with continued commitment through sustained deployment of the right military resources and men, the Boko Haram insurgency will come to end.” Gusau noted.