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Published On: Thu, Jun 12th, 2014

Misunderstanding Boko Haram a major hindrance to solving insurgency (2)

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Boko-Haram1By Kashim Shettima

The Boko Haram crisis is highly misunderstood by many people, some of whom, unfortunately, are in position to form part of those that will make decisions to fight it. Let’s not forget that Maku is a member of the Federal Executive Council. There is the unfortunate saying that Boko Haram is an agenda to stop a southern President from doing his job. Of all the attacks by the BokoHaram from 2002, their major attacks were in 2009 when Mohammed Yusuf was killed under a northern President, Umaru Musa Yar’adua. The attacks snowballed into 2011 till date. So, what are we talking about?

I am deeply worried about the misunderstanding of the Boko Haram because the solution lies in all of us understanding it and facing it with sincerity. The problem is that those who do not understand the crisis can inflict others that might include those in position to directly deal with it. The misconception can trickle from the topmost level to the ground fighter and this is very dangerous. As it we have seen with the schoolgirls’ abduction in Chibok, the victim became the accused. This is the danger of deliberate misunderstanding or distortion. Then, they say the Borno state government is not supportive in the fight against insurgency. Borno state has spent over ten billion naira and still spending, on co-funding the counter insurgency operations in the state.

We have donated armoured patrol vehicles to the police, donated about 400 Hilux patrol vehicles to security agencies; we fuel and maintain these vehicles, we provide other material logistics for operations. We support families of police and military men killed in combat. Only last week, we gave police funds to give a million naira to every family of 16 policemen recently killed. We have done same to soldiers and we are still doing. We generate information from communities that we pass on to the military to analyze process and get their intelligence which they compare with other sources they should have. We fund the youth volunteers that are called the civilian JTF. We funded their training, kitted them, gave them patrol vehicles and we pay them stipends, yet some people say we are supporting insurgency.

Frankly, the military, police and Department of State Service in Borno state have been trying, given the circumstance. Many of them have laid their lives for Borno and Nigeria and we are in their indebt. We need to address the security situation confronting us as a basis of our rights to life. What seems certain to me is that over the past couple of decades, we have built an increasingly UNCARING society, where the few rich have become extremely rich and continue to get richer. We have an economy that is much touted as growing rapidly, but is an economy that is not trickling down prosperity to the mass of our people.

As I have always said, beneath the mayhem of Boko Haram, underneath the nihilism of Boko Haram lies the underlying cause which is social exclusivity and extreme poverty. Once we engage the youths, once we create jobs, this nihilism, this madness will evaporate. At our current rate of population growth, we are expected to double our population every 22 years. By 2035, we are expected tohit the 400 million mark. We are projected to become more populousthan the United States of America.

What are our plans for thesemillions we are bringing forth? Oil is our main source of revenue. With the technology of hydraulic tracking and horizontal drilling, 15 African Nations are expected to become oil producing countries by 2016, the United States of America which was one of the major importers of our oil is no longer a major player in our oil export. It is projected to become the largest producer of oil soon because of the new technology of oil sourcing. The price of oil is hovering around 108 dollars at the moment, by the time more countries export, some experts project that the price of oil will fall whether we like it not even though we hope not, by the time oil price falls to between 35 or 40 dollars per barrel or the prices slashes by 50% from 108 dollars, how much will be available to take care of an increasing population? Like I have always said, most of us leaders are mostly concerned about this election and the next one; we do not care about what happens in between the two elections.

The solution to Boko Haram, for us in northern Nigeria, is agriculture. Land rather than oil is the most precious of all natural resources. The North has the most of agricultural potentials. Nigeria spends nearly 20 billion dollars annually imported food stuff. We are the greatest food importing nation. The North can divert these funds when we produce what the rest of the country needs. In Borno state, for the first time in 20 years, we funded the cultivation of 7,000 hectares of wheat in conjunction with the Chad Bsin Development Authority which created 28,000 jobs through allocation of a hectare to a farm family of four.

We have set up an Agricultural Transformation Team. At the moment we have imported over 400 containers of agro equipment. We have imported 50 units of sprinkler and centre pivot irrigation equipment at a pilot stage which we are already installing at a new farm site. We have sent 50 unemployed graduates of agriculture for three months train-the-trainers course on modern agriculture at a University in Thailand, more trainees just completed their course in India. We are not neglecting other sectors of education, healthcare etc…

We are doing those things as much as confronting the security challenges we face, assured that in Borno, we have over 1, 200 years of history. That long history was not a lineal story of smooth success. Our ancestors faced their own challenges and they overcame them. That is why we believe that even though the situation that we face with the Boko Haram insurgency is very challenging; we will also overcome. We are therefore sowing the seeds of the future with the choices we are making today.Concluded

Shettima, Governor of Borno State and former lecturer at University of Maiduguri, delivered this as keynote address at a two-day conference on security and human rights organised by the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research of Ahmadu Bello University which held Tuesday at the Arewa House in Kaduna.

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