Feeding on others’ despair? Pray, may ill-luck not befall you!


Asked in a press interview sometimes back why he is reported to have admitted that he was an unhappy governor, Kashim Shettima replied, “….How can I be happy when citizens I am under constitutional oath and with moral and religious duty to protect are being killed? And when over 200 daughters of Borno are being held somewhere and hundreds of Borno sons and daughters are six feet under the ground, out of cruelty?
“How can I be happy when, as a governor, I am forced to close down schools, hundreds have lost their homes and sources of livelihood, and we have spent over N10billion, that should have been used for developmental needs, to resist man’s inhumanity? Yet, we are still spending?
“How can I be happy when the economy of Borno is being grounded by our own people? Only Allah knows exactly how I feel. There was one night, about one and half years ago, I was thinking of resigning. I was so frustrated that the insurgents were waxing very strong, I was feeling helpless and I didn’t want Borno to collapse and surrender to insurgents under a regime that had me at the helm of affairs.
“But then, I thought that somebody has to be at the helm of affairs. If I am not there, someone has to be there. By the way, I asked myself, what was it that was to make me leave? Was it fear of death, fear of challenge or just trauma?”
He went on, “I am a fanatic of motivational quotes. There was one by Meg Cabot that inspires me, which states that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” That night, I said to myself, wasn’t it better for a leader to die for a good cause than to abandon his kinsmen and women to live for nothing at all and forever be remembered for abandoning his people? Since that day, I made up my mind to confront whatever challenge is before Borno State and work towards the recovery and progress of the state. I have conquered the fear of challenge, but I live with the reality of the trauma our citizen’s face and that gives me immense headache.”Quotation The above press interview took place about three years ago. However on Monday 27, June, 2016 in Abuja, the lamentation of Governor Shettima is still unabated. Speaking in the Federal Capital City, Shettima regretted that some nongovernmental organisations are defrauding foreign philanthropists by appealing for funds under the guise of trying to assist the Internally Displaced Persons in Borno State. Shettima spoke at a High Level Emergency Roundtable on the humanitarian crisis in the state.
The governor lamented that the NGOs took pictures of insurgency victims and showed them on the social media, targeting unsuspecting philanthropists to part with funds that ended up in private pockets.
Shettima declared, “In the midst of credible organisations trying to help us in Borno, we have seen instances of some business groups, masquerading as NGOs, smiling to the banks on the agony of the people. I do not mean to disrespect any sincere NGO, but there are those I have seen whose only interest is to go round thousands of IDP camps and identifying sick and skinny looking infants to pose for cameras with them and upload on the social media mainly to attract funding from concerned philanthropists abroad.”
The governor corroborated the submission of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mohammed Elmunir who pointed out that most of the pictures of critically malnourished infants, children and adults in circulation on social media were those of victims recently rescued by the armed forces from their Boko Haram abductors.
Shettima deplored the statement by Medecins Sans Frontieres, otherwise called “Doctors without Borders,” that there was acute malnutrition at the IDP camp in Bama, with hundreds of child deaths.
Shettima said MSF completely ignored the fact that interventions were already being made to address the unfortunate cases of malnutrition, a situation he said was unhelpful.
While acknowledging that the situation at the Bama camp was ‘overwhelming”, Governor Shettima said the government, with the support of few reputable organisations, was doing its best to improve the situation.
It would be recalled that during the aftermath of the February, 18, 2006 sectarian riot in Maiduguri, during the administration of Governor.
Ali Modu Sheriff, Borno had a foretaste of some fraudulent NGOs. The revolt or riot, spearheaded by some Muslim fundamentalists or miscreants, was a reaction to a defaming cartoon of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).
On the fateful day, over 50 churches were destroyed, several souls lost and property officially estimated at N1.5 billion destroyed.
Though, Senator Sheriff pledged to pay the compensation after receiving the report of the High Powered Committee set up by the state government, he reneged.
During this period, there were several sympathisers and groups, some in the garb of NGOs, that came offerred to assist. As one of the affected victims whose property (houses) were burnt and as the chairman of Association of the affected victims (landlords, traders and tenants), I was conversant with the happenings taking place within and outside the victims’ camp.
A case of a victim that was very pathetic and agonising was that of a family that not only lost their entire property but six souls in their rented three-bed room bungalow in the mini estate at Bolori layout in the state capital. Of the six souls that perished when their house was set on fire by the miscreants, four were direct children of the affected family, one was a cousin to the mother of the family and the last was a prospective student of the University of Maiduguri, who came for registration and ran into the house for safety for fear of being killed in his apartment.
The pathetic story of the family attracted attention nationally and internationally. As usual, sympathy, both genuine and otherwise, came from various quarters.
On another hand, I pray that what has been befalling Governor Shettima shall not be the portion of the mindless and heartless individuals or groups masquerading as caregivers.