By Inuwa Bwala
EVERY Government defines her own programmes at its inception, just as it may face certain challenges. In Borno state, one cannot say the times are too good given the crisis occasioned by the Boko Haram insurrection. Whereas others can afford the luxury of playing politics with the situation, we are worried that our brothers have taken up arms against their fellow kinsmen.
We have been on the edge of our seats, striving hard to succeed in the face of this particular challenge. Governor Kashim Shettima’s determined efforts to succeed in the face of all odds have spurred us into working to rescue Borno from this strange hold.
In his inaugural address to the people of Borno state on May 29, 2011, Honorable Kashim Shettima, the Governor, outlined very ambitious objectives of his administration which include amongst other things, enthroning equity, justice and fair play in the conduct of Government business; empowering all segments of the society as a catalyst for poverty alleviation, and evolving a clear socio-cultural philosophy, coherent principles and ethics for the stabilization, good governance, transparency, accountability and the efficient management of resources. In promising to refocus the collective energy of his people towards self actualization within the context of self help and self sustenance, the young Governor also plans a rapid development of basic infrastructure in both urban and rural areas.
Since taking over the mantle of leadership, Kashim Shettima has demonstrated that these objectives are his articles of faith as he strives daily to reawaken in the people the capacity to dream and envision, to have confidence in themselves and to embrace each other as brothers irrespective of tribe, religion, creed or class.
At his inaugural meeting with newly sworn in commissioners, he did not fail to spell out the challenges before the cabinet. Even as many believe that he has chosen the best crop to work with him, Kashim insists that those who accept to serve with him must be ready to abide by the terms of his covenant with the people, which are to be selfless and dedicated, and to live above board. In describing his cabinet as a mixed grill, with the capacity to reposition Borno State for the better, Kashim has offered himself as the arrowhead of new revolutionaries.
Governor Kashim Shettima has declared the first one hundred days of his administration as a period of dedicated intervention in some key sectors which he believes will tend to have greater multiplier effects on the state’s development process. He has carefully chosen Health, Education, Water and security as the main focus of his administration. These areas are being used to propel the state in the direction of rapid development. Bearing in mind Borno’s chequred socio-economic and political experiences, expectations from the people are very high and we are not unaware of that. The hundred days intervention period is without prejudice to the long term strategy which the Governor will be handing down to his new team very soon.
Good as the team may appear, determined and dedicated as it may want to be, certain people appear poised to frustrate efforts at implementing the good programmes, by capitalizing on the prevailing circumstances Borno finds herself in to cause mischief. While Kashim Shettima and his team prefer peaceful approach in resolving all matters, including political differences, it should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness by political opponents to try to undermined Government. As a team, we are equal to the task, and as a government we have the capacity to respond to all situations that may arise from all situations. We are honest about our offer to dialogue with the real Yusuffiya group, just as we are prepared to expose those who use the name of the group to cause mischief for sheer political reasons.
In the face of the security challenges bedeviling Borno state, the new team appears poised to make the difference. We believe that the current situation is a temporary eclipse that will soon give way to the bright Borno state star, known to shine brightly always. The first task as it is; is to rebuild the confidence of our brothers who felt aggrieved with past Government policies.
The issue of dialogue with members of the Jammatul Sunnah Lidah Awati Wal Jihad may not appear too fashionable to some people, but we believe that it remains the catharsis. We are desperate for peace to return so that we can continue with the implementation of our programmes in earnest. Peace is a sin qua non to development and we are not prepared to compromise it. Already we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Nigerians now know better those to blame for the Boko Haram insurrection. The recent visit to Borno by the leadership of the Arewa Consultative Forum, and the attendant intervention by other prominent elders have given us hopes that very soon, Borno shall return to take its proper place as the citadel of peace.
Already, the indicators point to a Borno, rising from the ashes of the social dislocation occasioned by the Boko Haram insurrection to be a model for many states in terms of development. I have a dream that, those who despise us for whatever reason(s) will someday crave for our friendship. The challenges presented by the present situation should serve as the impetus that will drive us to the Promised Land.
*Inuwa Bwala is the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture in Borno State.