Says everbody’s now at war in North East
Commends Gov Shettima’s developmental strides
Colonel Abdulmumini Aminu (retired) was Military Governor of old Borno State between 1985 and 1987before the creation of Yobe State in 1991 by the administration of Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida. In this interview, Col Aminu took a cursory look at some of the changes he saw in the state he governed 30 years ago. He also tasked the citizenry on how to collaorate with the security agencies in order to bring Boko Haram to its knees saying terrorism was the most difficult war in any part of the world.
Sir, is this your first visit to Borno State since you left office?
As you know, I came to Borno purposely to attend the wedding Fatiha of the daughters of my friend and Elder statesman, Dr. Mohammed Indimi but it is not my first since leaving office. I come from time to time to visit friends here. I was here shortly after Governor Kashim Shettima came into power.
As a former governor, you must have known that Borno used to be a peaceful state in the Northeast; but the state is now in its ninth year of Boko Haram crisis, how would you describe the situation?
I left Borno state exactly 30 years ago now. It is also very interesting to tell you that I spent 30 months as Military Administrator in Borno state. Looking at the past and present, you know, so many things have taken place or happened. There is the issue of Boko Haram which has been a source of terror for both the people and the government but I am impressed with how the state governor has been handling the crisis, how he has stood for the people and how he has efficiently tabled the crisis before the international community.
I am also highly impressed with what is happening in terms of development put in place by the present administration of Governor Kashim Shettima. To put politics aside, I was humbled when I saw positive changes in Maiduguri and other parts of the state. What I have seen is unbelievable considering my knowledge that Borno receives less federal statutory allocations compared to other states in addition to the crisis that has forced millions people out of their homes and are now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). I have seen secondary schools that are fully air-conditioned, digitally constructed classrooms with laptops, computers, ICT materials which have really enhanced the learning processes in the state. I have seen newly constructed network of roads and drainages within the metropolis, I have seen different housing estates like the Legacy Garden in Bulumkutu ward, Model Primary and Secondary schools in Gomari Airport, Hospitals, beautification and interlocking of the streets, in fact, the whole town I saw has changed. We must give credit to Governor Shettima who has done so much despite the security challenges in the state. I like his courage, I like his focus, I like his belief in the masses, I also love his tenacity of purpose, he is fantastic, and I must commend him and his people for giving their maximum support to achieve these. The developments are very glaring. By the way,
I have seen the transformations in Agriculture; I have seen quite a number of tractors, combined harvesters and other modern farming inputs provided by this government. If you go to Agric Farm Centre, you will be amazed with the kinds of agricultural equipment purchased and ready for distribution to our farmers in this cropping season. This is why I will advise the people of Borno State ahead of 2019 to be careful in their choice of Shettima’s successor. You can imagine if an incompetent person had been the governor of Borno in this kind of situation. Governor Shettima’s successor has to be someone who will consolidate on these good records and do more for the people of the state. Such person should be a good person who will have the interest of the people at heart just like Governor Shettima.
The people should ensure that they give their massive votes to a person with good character and integrity, a person with no questionable character and who will carry everybody along.
You sound as if you did not envisage such development happening within the last 30 years
How can anyone expect these kinds of good things under the security challenges in this State? I expected development no doubt but these positive changes took place very fast and despite the activities of insurgents, which the governor actually inherited from his predecessor.
This kind of development is what democracy is all about. It is government’s responsibility to provide an enabling environment to its people, it is also the responsibility of the people to take advantage of such provisions by government in the society. People need to play their own role in the society. If the leadership is playing its roles, and the followers do not play their roles well, there would be problem. Therefore, in moving any society to greater heights, it is a collective responsibility. Even if you give Borno State Government the entire 2018 Budget of this country, this budget will not be adequate given the demanding nature of our people, so I am appealing to our people to really understand governance. I want to advice that government needs to enlighten our people on the complexity of governance, so that they will understand.
As someone with military background, what do you think is the solution to the Boko Haram challenges facing the Borno you once governed?
Terrorism is the most difficult war in any part of the world. Just like Boko Haram, you do not know who is a member of Boko Haram and who is not. Boko Haram members can go and kill, cause destructions, come back to the society and mingle with people. It is very difficult to identify a terrorist, and that is why all hands must be on deck to end Boko Haram. Everywhere in the world, security is very expensive and when you are talking of security, as I keep on saying ‘security belongs to everybody, it is everyone’s business. Everybody has to play his/her own part. When Boko Haram thing started it was left in the hands of government and security agencies, and that was why it went viral. These operations going on here in the North East must be a collective responsibility.
Everybody must be adequately involved, whether you are a Muslim, a Christian or pagan, otherwise we will continue to have disconnect and there would be a problem that may consume all of us. We should all be informants to security forces. What I mean is that the citizenry should volunteer to give information to our security agencies, especially on the movement of criminals around their environment or within the theatre of war. Such information is normally treated with confidentiality. Let us wake up from our slumber, let us be more courageous for all of us to fight this menace of Boko Haram. I am not saying that you should do something which at the end of the day will get you killed, but there are things you should do before losing hope to your enemy. As a man there are certain things you should do to safeguard yourself and your family, and one of those things is courage. We are in a situation that everybody is at war now in the North East and we must have courage and support government and security agencies so that at the end we come victorious.
I am happy that this Boko Haram war is uniting us as a state and country, because when Boko Haram terrorists strike, they strike at everybody whether you are a Muslim or a Christian and that is why people have started teaming up to fight the war irrespective of religious inclinations, tribes or ethnic considerations. I must commend the Federal Government, the state governments in the North East and our security agencies as well as our people for taking the bull by the horn to see to the end of Boko Haram insurgency.