Time for Borno stakeholders’ summit

Time for Borno stakeholders’ summit

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Chidi Amuta in his essay on military in governance, in the Post Express of July 2 1997, noted, “In the world of General Abacha or, indeed, every proper soldier, reality is summed up in the image of the battlefield, a world in which there are two categories of people: enemy and friend.”

He went further: “…beauty consists of ruins, what Shakespeare called architecture of ruins, a landscape of shattered homesteads, severed limbs, tattered lives, ravaged farmlands and looted barns… if there is any legacy that real soldiers in the strict prosecution of the professional campaign are supposed to leave behind, it is a legacy of orphans, widows and devastation.”

This has been somewhat tailor-made for Borno State in particular, and to some extent, Yobe and Adamawa states for the past eight years – no thanks to Boko Haram, a terrorist sect which according to the Global Terrorism Index report of November 15, 2015 by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranked Nigeria third out of 162 countries of the world that had been worst hit by terrorist attacks.

At the last count, Boko Haram had debited the nation’s population balance sheet with 100,000 deaths, 80,000 orphans and 65,000 widows, along with the destruction of infrastructure, public buildings and property estimated at about $7 billion

Nigeria ranked fourth in 2014. According to the report, Boko Haram overtook ISIL in 2014 to become the most deadly terrorist group in the world. The report went further, stating that the deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 per cent in 2014 to 6,444, compared to 6,073 blamed on the Islamic State. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIL in March 2015.

The GTI report further stated that the two bodies, Boko Haram and the ISIL, were responsible for 51 per cent of deaths by terror worldwide. At the last count, Boko Haram had debited the nation’s population balance sheet with 100,000 deaths, 80,000 orphans and 65,000 widows, along with the destruction of infrastructure, public buildings and property estimated at about $7 billion. Also, it has presented the spectre of about three million of Internally Displaced Persons.

Borno State accounts for about 70 per cent of the total burden in both human and material loss. Notwithstanding the mayhem and atrocities of the terrorists, the military has been able to degrade, substantially, the fire power and excesses of the sect.

As stated, the military has discharged itself creditably and posed with the determination to end the scourge soonest.

The Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has demonstrated unequivocally, its political will to tame the scourge through provision of logistics, and other things needed by the military. During the recent 57th Independence Anniversary Celebration, President Buhari was in Maiduguri at the headquarters of the Operation Lafiya Dole, the military base of the army, directing the operations on the insurgency in the zone, to give the troops moral boost and the assurance that their efforts were appreciated.

On its part, the Borno State Government, under Governor Kashim Shettima, while assisting the military in moral and financial support in its operations, has faithfully carried, helped by the Federal Government, donor agencies and the international community. along. They all contributed immensely to the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Programme of the administration, with regard to the IDPs.

From the resolute will of the Federal Government and the resolve of the military, victory over Boko Haram is a matter of time.

However, there are still more rivers to cross even after the military conquest.

For example, while efforts are made to de-radicalise and re-integrate the concerned and take back the IDPs to their permanent abode, the political solution, which is very crucial to the overall success of taming the insurgency is still unaddressed. This is the time for this.

It is, therefore, imperative to find a lasting solution to the scourge of the sect from its source. Charity must begin from home. It is now time for the Borno elite, politicians, elders, traditional institutions, religious leaders, young, old and other stakeholders to cast aside their individual or group ambition or interest and be homeward to end this nauseating menace that has inflicted blood shedding, deaths and sorrow on the people for the past eight years.

The more this consuming venom is allowed to fester, the worst for the people. No doubt, the political solution to the present imbroglio will complement the expected military victory over the insurgents. It is, therefore, imperative for Governor Shettima, the Number One custodian of the people’s mandate to call the summit of all Borno stakeholders to discuss the journey so far, in the war against the insurgency, and then, secure the way forward.

He has the constitutional mandate and the locus standi to summon this meeting. Agreed, the governor in his resolve to salvage Borno from ensuing precipice and restore it to its glorious past, encountered unprovoked attacks, insults, humiliations and outright condemnations from his political opponents, and mischief makers. But let Shettima remember that “uneasy lies the head that wears the
crown.”

Besides, the Bible makes us realise that a man is not without honour save among his own brothers and sisters (Mathew 13: 57). It is pertinent to all stakeholders to note that the proposed summit is not for Shettima but for the survival of Borno. It would serve as a forum, not only for possible reconciliation of the aggrieved groups, individuals, but a platform for exchange of ideas, pleasantries and fostering a united
front.

*Izekor, a journalist and public affairs analyst, is a member of The Point Newspapers’ Board of Advisers.

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