Borno State has in recent years been in the throes of crisis. In the midst of the security crisis, Governor Kashim Shettima seems to carry on as usual with the art of governance aiming to deliver democracy dividends to the populace.
The State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Inuwa Bwala in an interview explains how the governor is carrying about. Excerpts:
HOW do you think the Federal Government can intervene to ameliorate the insecurity in the state?
I have always maintained that it is wrong to isolate Borno as the worst case scenario in this crisis.
Until we look at it as a national palaver, capable of affecting any part of the country, and where every Nigerian is a potential victim, we will be missing the point.
It may have started from our axis, our people may have been most affected, and it may have lingered on for too long; again the frequency of incidents may be more, but even these indicators are not enough to warrant the often exaggerated reports we receive.
We shall get out of it. We have a sensitive, responsive and responsible Government which shares in the anguish of our people. We see the problem more as our own problem than it is of the people, because we have personal attachments to the people.
At every turn, we have always voiced out our concerns over the loss of innocent souls in the crisis. We have always come out to sympathize with victims, even as we often provide palliatives to some. His Excellency, the Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima is personally pained with the situation we find ourselves in.
He has often been moved to tears, anytime he reviews the situation. The man has been so emotionally attached to the plight of the people, that he defies his own personal security to visit sites and victims of the crisis.
As Government officials, we know we are also vulnerable, given the fact that it has been people who are in one way or the other related with this government that have fallen victims.
That is why as leaders, we have been appealing to our brothers to sheath the dagger. We do not have the instruments to otherwise compel a cease fire. We may have been collaborating with the federal Government, but the reality on ground is such that we have been virtually left to our fate, and knowing the enormity of the situation, we always appeal for peace to prevail. We are worried; we are concerned, because we are affected.
Just when it was thought that it was fading away, the insurgency intensified. How has this affected you?
What many people do not tend to understand is the fact that, there is more to the whole crisis than just an insurgency.
While we cannot deny that we have that ideological problem that has snowballed into violence, greater number of the incidents these few days are purely cases of political intimidation from our opponents.
If you look at the roll call of people affected, you will agree with me that there is a serious political underpin. We are also aware that armed robbers and other related crimes have often found a good alibi in the Boko Haram situation to wreck havoc on the state. The danger in all these is the possible extinction of our future productive force and the future effect can be better imagined.
As a government, we are conscious of the fact that our citizens are being exposed to unwarranted dangers, whereby we have taken up arms against each other. While some people have hijacked the crisis and converted it into a political tool, we cannot on our part afford the luxury of playing politics with the lives of our people.
We believe that, in the fullness of time, the truth about the whole thing will come out, and our state and indeedNigeriawill be freed from this entanglement.
While we appreciate the plight of your people, we also need to know how you feel about the reported excesses of members of the JTF?
The JTF is a sort of necessary evil, and our people must understand the situation, to the effect that their coming has attendant inconveniences. It has its own structures that can respond to such allegations. They operate on strict orders from the Federal Government, and we are not in a position to give contrary directives on what they need to do. We have heard of the allegations of excessive use of force in certain situations, but I think it is left for the agency responsible for their actions to explain.
On our part, we have been telling the citizenry to be law abiding and to avoid making troubles. We tell them to tolerate whatever situation we find ourselves in believing that it is temporary.
One fact I would like to point out however is the fact that the situation in Borno is often exaggerated, and the world outside tend to draw conclusions that are very often erroneous. We are trying our best to correct the wrong notions people have about our state, to the effect that we are not a dead end.