The many lingering questions
By Bala Ajiya, Damaturu and Umar Yusuf, Yola
The peaceful atmosphere in Yobe State has been disrupted since the advent of Boko Haram insurgency five years ago and relative peace enjoyed by the populace became a thing of the past. Thousands of people have lost their lives in the three states of north-east of Adamawa,Borno and Yobe as a result of the insurgency that persisted despite the different measures taken by the federal and state governments to end it.
The Federal Government on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 first declared state of emergency in the three states. The emergency rule has been extended twice in November 2013 and May, this year. While justifying the Federal Government’s action on the emergency rule in a broadcast to the nation in May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan said the action was an attempt to check the increasingly violent attacks by the insurgents, saying the level of violence called for extra- ordinary measures.
The latest segment of the emergency rule expired on Thursday, November 20. The question on many lips, now that the Federal Government is seeking another six months extension is, did the emergency rule bring succour to the people of the affected areas? Or, better still, did the military that took over the security of lives and properties record any success in their quest to fight insurgency? The candid answer to these questions is that the situation in the North-east has remained the same even after the first emergency rule extension. So what gives the populace the conviction that state of emergency is the solution to the insurgency? The situation in Yobe is getting worse by the day.
Two local government areas in the state, namely Gujba and Gulani, have been captured by the insurgents in the past four months with Boko Haram hoisting its flags and the apparatus of government dismantled. The bridge that linked Damaturu, the state capital, to the two local governments has been damaged and the military is not doing anything to recapture the local governments despite soldiers heavy presence in the state. Sunday Vanguard went round Damaturu to seek peoples opinions about the plan to extend the emergency rule. While a cross-section of the populace supported the extension, some are indifferent to the government decision.
Alhaji Ibrahim Tata, while reacting to the extension of emergency rule, praised the transparent effort of the Federal Government, saying, “ The presence of the military here in Yobe has really reduced the activities of the insurgents, because, before the arrival of soldiers, everybody was living in fear. Boko Haram carried out attacks at will and many people fled the state. But for the past 18 months, the military has been able to repel a number of attacks in the state, particularly the state capital. Since the current emergency rule will end, it is a welcome idea if the Federal Government extends it”, he said.
A mother, who recently lost her first child during the Potiskum school bombing where over 50 students were killed, heaped the blame on the state government hosting the military in the state. “If the state government can cooperate with the military by providing the necessary information, logistics, the emergency rule will succeed. But the state government is not showing concern to peoples plight. Look at the bomb incident that occurred in Potiskum, the state governor was away in Abuja blaming Federal Government. Had it been the governor knows the value of the innocent lives lost in that tragedy, he will immediately have come back to the state and commiserate with over 50 families that lost their loved ones but he did not find it necessary. Even up till now, he has not gone to Potiskum to see things for himself. So with the extension we believe we are safe”, he said.
A chieftain of APC in the state, who did not want his name mentioned, berated the Federal Government for ‘’not being serious’’ to stop the insurgency, claiming that it has ulterior motive. “ The federal government is toying with peoples lives. As you can see, over 10,000 have been killed even under the emergency rule, soldiers have revolted against their superior officers, demanding for better ammunition and welfare. If any government is serious to wipe out these insurgents, it will not take six months. But the problem has lingered for over four years. Families have been displaced, many killed, business lost, over 5,000 Nigerians are in refuge camp in the neighbouring countries and they are talking of extension of emergency rule. What happen to those alleged to be culpable in the activities of Boko Haram? What happens to the sponsors ? We know that the Boko Haram renewed attacks have to do with 2015. In a situation where the military cannot withstand the insurgents, and the local hunters were the ones liberating the people, we are no fools. The Federal Government has succeeded in disenfranchising the electorate in these three states and only Allah can save us, not emergency rule”, he said.