Abdullahi Bego, Special Adviser, Press Affairs and Information to the Yobe state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, in this interaction with our Politics Editor, Lawrence Olaoye, maintains that the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe and other affected states of the North East could be curtailed if the Federal Government could deploy more troops to combat them. He also explains what the Gaidam’s administration has been doing to support the security agents on ground while elaborating on the empowerment programs put in place to empower the youths in the state.
How would you assess the performance of the security agencies in the fight against the insurgents, particularly in Yobe state?
All of us need to do more to ensure the protection of lives and properties especially of the people affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. What I called for specifically is on the part of the populace. We need to increase vigilance and support for the security agents who are doing a very hard work on ground to ensure the security of the people. And on the part of the federal government, they need to deploy more troops in our state to help those who are doing a hard and commendable work. They are trying their best and we salute their courage. But what they are doing, we need to encourage them to ensure that our schools, our states and our homes and our place of business are safe and that this kind of carnage and senseless killing is completely stopped.
What is Yobe state specifically doing to stop this carnage?
You know Yobe state government does not have control over the police; it does not have the control over the army and intelligence service but we work together with them. What we do is to provide them whatever logistic supports and we continue to spend a lot of money to ensure that we provide the logistic support. But when it is in terms of operation, equipments and the military hardwares, only federal government can provide these. We can provide logistic supports and we have been providing that. Today, we have spent over N6 billion from 2011 when Boko Haram on the security agencies providing Hilux vehicles and other logistic supports. We also continue to mobilize the people in churches, in mosques and home to pray because we believe that whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, if we continue to pray, God Almighty would intervene and answer our prayers and we see the end of this very heinous sect.
Some people say the root cause of this insecurity include poverty and ignorance. What’s Yobe government doing about this?
To eradicate poverty and ignorance, we are very much involved in that. Last year alone, in2013, the state government recruited over 18,000 workers and provided them with means of livelihood. Some of them are university graduates while others are products of Polytechnics. They have been engaged by the government while others are enjoying certain empowerment schemes and we provide agricultural support especially for dry seasons farmers. We give them seedlings, equipment and money to support them to go and cultivate. We also provide these mass transit buses to engage youths as drivers, conductors an ticketing agents. Last year alone, we provided 18000 direct employment with several others indirectly engaged. To a youth for example, as a driver, you are indirectly employing two or three people because he would need a conductor and others. So we have been doing that to eradicate poverty and unemployment and also to make the people have a sense of belonging.
We also provide scholarship to our students across the state so that they can go and study and make a headway in their lives. But as much as we are doing that, we are very focused on ensuring that our people are safe because the violence in Yobe and the region is too much. Look at these students that were killed in their sleep; why, for what reason? This is outrageous. What can inform this kind of heinous act? This senseless way in which innocent people were killed for no reason and their hostels set on fire. This is the fourth time we have this kind of experience. First, the GSS, Damaturu, second, Mamudo, the third that of Gujba and this one.
Someone told me that there were some arguments as to whether 29 or 30 students were killed, but I said even if only one student was killed, we would have been outraged all the same. These students were not mere numbers, they are lives. There is no reason for it. No one can justify this senseless violence.
Most people say most of the insurgents are not Nigerians but foreigners from the neighboring countries, how true is this
Only the security agents can tell you that. They go out on patrol everyday and they encounter the insurgents; they deal with them. They should be in position to tell whether they are Nigerians or foreigners. What I’m in the position to tell you is that we, as a state government, are doing our best to support the security agencies by providing necessary logistics and pray to the Almighty God to bring to an end this senseless killing.