(BACKPAGE) Where are Borno billionaires, elite?

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Uba Group

BY VICTOR IZEKOR

Babagana Umara Zulum, governor of Borno State, was so overwhelmed to the unparalleled contribution and disposition of the Dangote Foundation to the plights of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.

Zulum had eulogized Alhaji Aliko Dangote in his goodwill message to the business magnate, who turned 63 years old on April, 11, 2020.

The governor’s message contained in a tweet, he sent out from his handle, @ Prof. Zulum reads: “My dear elder brother, it is such a great honour to join millions of your well-wishers in wishing you Allah’s continued grace as you turned 63 today.

“I always remember with so much gratitude, the many times you have offered bold interventions to help address humanitarian causes whether on areas of food supplies for our displaced brothers and sisters in Borno, or in building resettlement homes.

“Benevolent interventions from the Dangote Foundation have remained the highest from an individual and the private sector. We, grateful people of Borno State, will always wish you more of Allah’s blessings for good health, strengthened faith and the continued expansion of your huge investments that benefit humanity.

“We wish you a happy 63rd anniversary and Insha’allah, the people of Borno will ceaselessly celebrate you till the end of time. Allah Ya baka tsawon rai cikin rayuwa mai Albarka!

“Allah Ya sa ka gama da duniya lafiya, kuma Allah Ya sa ka cikin Aljanna firdaus! Congratulations, sir!” Governor Zulum said in his tweet.

The provoking, pricking and possibly prodding question is how many of the prominent Borno citizens especially, the plutocrats, politicians and stakeholders can deserve such encomiums?

This question which is within the context of what is seen, heard and said of the good Samaritan, however is without prejudice to the concerned citizens of Borno who might have contributed one way or the other their quota in this regard in cash or kind and chose to remain anonymous.

Certainly, to denigrate such group is uncharitable and unfair.

However, there is the group of Borno prominent stakeholders in business, commerce, politics and the bureaucrats who are endowed, privileged and in ocean of wealth and expertise turned their back on their mother state (Borno) for the past decade watching Borno in agony, downward precipice and in survival battle.

They jet into Maiduguri now and before the shout of Jack Robinson, jet out again.

This group of indigenous citizens in “Siddon Look” (apology to Bola Ige) disposition either with deep-rooted prejudice against the establishment in the state or for reasons best known to its members watch Borno deceitfully and diabolically gravitating to Shakespeare’s “architecture of ruins,” a landscape of shattered homesteads, severed limbs, tattered lives, ravaged farmlands and looted barns.

It would be recalled that as Governor of Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima, sowed the wind and dared the whirlwind when he accused some indigenous politicians and elite of Borno State of not only trying to subvert his administration, but also distanced themselves from the reconstruction and resettlement programme of his administration.

For example, he pointed out a wealthy politician from Borno who never gave a dime or Kobo for rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state, but could give billions of naira to a political party as a donation. And for those trying to destabilize his administration, Shettima warned at the same time that he would expose the masquerade though he knew the consequences of doing so.

Even, the Nigerian Army has warned in statements of attempts by some politicians and elite from North East and Borno State in particular of moves by the concerned to frustrate all efforts at bringing the insurgency to an end.

In such statements, the Army pointed out that the politicians were in collusion with some marabouts and others to ensure the failure of the military in the terror war for their self-ambition.

It would be recalled also, that when President Muhammadu Buhari visited Maiduguri last year to condole the people on the deadly attack and destruction of human lives and property by suspected members of Boko Haram in Auno village of Borno, the President wondered during his visit to the Shehu of Borno palace whether it was possible for the insurgents to move all the way from the Chad region in northern Borno all the way to Maiduguri to commit havoc without the prior knowledge of some people?

It would also be recalled that some years back, some prominent leaders in Borno were accusing one another of masterminds of Boko Haram insurgency.

At a three-day conference on Peace and Unity organized by Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the then Senate President, Senator David Mark, asked, why have the northern leaders been unable to condemn the terrorist group, Boko Haram that had claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of people?

To cap it up General Yakubu Gowon, who was the chairman of the conference told northern leaders to stop being hypocritical or “Speaking from both sides of the mouth,” while dealing with issues of insecurity and ethno-religious killings in the north.

“Why have the northern leaders been unable to condemn the terrorist group, Boko Haram, that had claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of people?”

Coming back to Borno, unlike most elders, money bags of Borno and grandstanding elite, the youths of Borno have paid their price in the ongoing terror war. The young men in the terror-afflicted state some years back chose to meet the lion in its own den notwithstanding the price when caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They came on their volition to collaborate with the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) to identify and, if necessary, to arrest suspected terrorists and hand them over to the authorities. They know most of the Boko Haram members because they live together with them. Due to these courageous efforts of the youth in Maiduguri and other parts of the state, thousands of members of Boko Haram have been taken into custody. Their coming into scene in the terror war changed the scenario as the emergence of the youth sent the insurgents into the bush and they had since made the bush their habitat as the cities and towns have become too hot for them. Patriotic Nigerians hailed the youth who are determined to restore hope to Borno. Kashim Shettima as Governor of the state described them “Our Heroes”.

Notwithstanding, the disposition of most prominent Borno stakeholders who fled, abandoned or outright rejected their ancestral home for greener pasture or safe haven when their roof is on fire, there are few indigenous dedicated, committed and outright in pains and accord with the unfortunate situation in their home state and would not abandon it.

In this class is Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, a business mogul whose foundation, “Indimi Foundation” has contributed in no small measures to Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement programme of Borno State government and beyond in cash and kind and in billions of naira. Similarly is Engr. Mele Kyari, the Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, who along with others made possible the 50MW gas plant under construction in Borno State to bring to an end, the persistent power disruption of the state by the insurgents who for the past nine months held Borno hostage without light as they destroyed some of the existing power towers and poles.

Let us not forget, the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, who in no small measures identified both officially and in private capacity his commitment to the orphans of Borno.

Above all, is President Muhammadu Buhari, who showed keen interest on the happenings in Borno.

Victor Izekor is a journalist and public affairs analyst and writes at victorizekor@gmail.com