By Ndahi Marama
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, weekend took his campaigns to Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Jonathan, who was on his second visit to the state within two weeks reassured the people of Borno and the North-East sub region that his administration will do everything possible to end the activities of the terrorists and restore peace in the country.
He claimed he had fulfilled the promises he made to Nigerians during his 2011 campaigns and that if re-elected in the February 14 general elections, more policies and programmes aimed at transforming the lives of the people through job creation, women and youth empowerment and agricultural revolution will top his priority.
Jonathan spoke during a rally at the Ramat Square Maiduguri, the state capital.
The President had before addressing the mammoth crowd of PDP supporters solicited a minute silence in respect of those killed by the insurgency.
Jonathan arrived Maiduguri International Airport at about 1:30 pm amid tight security accompanied by PDP national stalwarts including Director General of his campaign organization, Dr. Ahmadu Ali among others. He drove straight to the Shehu of Borno’s palace, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn-Garbai El- Kanemi where he paid homage and equally condoled with the monarch over the unfortunate incidents perpetrated by Boko Haram sect, and assured that very soon, peace will be restored in the state.
Ending the Boko Haram insurgency
The President attributed the delay in rescuing the abducted Chibok girls to external forces, promising that his administration would do everything possible to end the Boko Haram insurgency in a matter of months.
After ending the Boko Haram insurgency, he said his administration would rebuild the affected areas, worshipping places, business centres/shops and schools destroyed by the insurgents and create job opportunities for the teaming youths.
Jonathan said that with the use of initiatives like Victim Support Fund, Presidential Initiative for North-east, Safe School Initiative as well as increased budgetary allocation, his administration will rebuild and redesign Borno State in a way that children will have access to education and better future. His words: “We feel the pain of Borno people. I personally feel more pained when people accuse me of being involved in the problem for some political advantage. I have said it many times that my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. And I don’t think any president or human being can do what they accuse me of doing.”
“The Boko Haram problem is what I thought we would have ended long ago but may be external influence or interest is affecting us. I am assuring you however that it won’t take us more than a few months to end this insurgency and restore peace in Borno. Our people must return to their communities. Insha Allah, we will get our Chibok girls back.”
The president noted that millions of Nigerians had been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency and many other citizens of the country were taking refuge in Niger and Cameroon, saying: “The idea of Nigerians thinking that the Boko Haram insurgency was a political thing promoted by my administration was totally wrong because politics can never be worth of the blood of any Nigerian. I feel pained because it is not something you can handle yourself unless you use the security operatives.
“However, Nigerians must be rest assured that my government will end the Boko Haram and the people will go back home. We will continue to give our support to the Internally Displaced Persons through the Victims Support Fund Intervention to ease hardship of the people.’’
Jonathan also promised to embark on relevant projects that would impact on the lives of the people in the state as soon the insurgency ends.
According to him, the Federal Government would commit $1bn (N215bn) to replace basic and social amenities destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency in the state.
Earlier, Ibn-Garbai said that Borno was known as a home of peace and hoped that the challenges facing the state would be a thing of the past soon.
He appealed to Jonathan to install the 330KVA power line from Gombe, complete the abandoned federal housing project as well as the Biu Dam.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to consider reopening the Maiduguri International Airport.
Securing lives and property
The leader of the PDP in the state and Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil, in his welcome address congratulated the president and his entourage for shaming his enemies and coming to Borno State.
Wakil said, the federal government has done a lot of achievements in the state in terms of Power generations, securing lives and property and the restoration of the 333 KVA transmission lines that was vandalized by terrorists along Biu- Damboa- Maiduguri 185km road.
Wakil assured the President that the people of Borno are strongly behind him to ensure the victory of PDP at the state and National level.
Another leader of the PDP in the state, former governor Ali Modu Sheriff promised that he and his teaming supporters are ever ready to support the PDP to victory.
Sheriff informed the President and his entourage that the ruling party in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC) under Governor Kashim Shettima will not get 20 per cent of the votes in the state because the present administration has failed the people, leaving them in abject poverty.
PDP Governorship Candidate in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Imam, encouraged the electorate to come out en mass and vote PDP to save the state and the country from its economic decay.
Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo who represented other PDP governors from the North East sympathised with the people of the state and the North-East zone for the unfortunate killings and destruction of property by insurgents, and prayed God to restore peace in the country.
He solicited support from all party supporters and the people of the region to rally round PDP and ensure victory as the opposition APC and their so -called leaders seeking power desperately have nothing to offer Nigerians.