Borno’s Catastrophe, Zulum’s Poor Optics And The Army’s Quandary: Who Will Help The Weak ?

The Oasis Reporters

January 21, 2020

Prof Babagana Zulum, Governor of Borno State.

Before digesting this article, consider the fact that the estimated population of Northern Nigeria is about 100 million. Roughly put at about 1.3% of the global population. But then, when you compute the rough estimate of out of school children worldwide, 52% of them are from this same Northern Nigeria.
There’s no gain in saying the fact that what that mix portends for the region is a huge cauldron of gunpowder exploding in several directions with religious extremism thrown into the bargain.

Borno and the entire North East is in trouble. And this trouble from a poverty stricken region with high divorce rates, irresponsible fatherhood, multiple marriages and climate change troubles, is threatening to consume Nigeria in its entirety with it.

According to a Daily Trust report, many residents are fleeing their homes in the wake of sustained attacks by Boko Haram insurgents along the Maiduguri/Damaturu Highways.

Tension arose at the weekend owing to the insecurity at Auno and its environs in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State. The insurgents have been terrorising motorists and villagers within the locality for weeks despite the existence of several military checkpoints. Locals bemoan the fact that dozens of people are being killed and many others abducted on a daily basis.

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A community leader said: “As of this afternoon, more than 1,000 people have fled their homes in Auno, many left on Saturday to Maiduguri. As we are speaking, pickup vans and trucks are conveying people’s belongings. I’ve begged them not to allow the town to be deserted, but they’re not listening to me. “President Muhammadu Buhari should come to our aid; we voted for him to end the war, but unfortunately, we’re going backwards in view of the daily attacks on the Maiduguri/ Damaturu Road.” A resident Bukar Auno said: “We’ve discussed with their (troops’) Commanding Officer that we don’t want gates in the middle of the town. The gate was erected about a month ago or so, we don’t know the rationale behind putting such a gate inside the town instead of outside the town.”

He further pleaded with the Borno State government to empower the vigilante and hunters with needed weapons to fight the insurgents, saying about 75 percent of the people had deserted the town.

The chairman of Network of Civil Society Organizations in Borno State, Ahmed Shehu, confirmed that residents of Auno had fled to Maiduguri. Meanwhile, concerned citizens in Damaturu have bemoaned the deteriorating insecurity and regular attacks on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Road. They said people were being killed and abducted daily on the road”, thus ending this chilling report by one of Northern Nigeria’s best newspapers.

The pertinent question to ask is, who are these Boko Haram terrorists harassing the region ? It is easy to tell that a majority of them are the sons of the people and their friends. Collectively, many remain children of recalcitrant parents who enjoy procreation and the excess production of babies that they eventually push out under the guise of studying the word of God from malams (Islamic clerics. In reality, they are freeing themselves from the burden of feeding and nurturing their own sons.

When the streets takeover the upbringing of the child beggars who sleep rough in the cold, sick and uncared for, they grow up with hate and rejection of society. These becomes the tormentors of society.

Then there is the uncaring government that fails to make adequate provisions for it’s citizenry. Worse, they maintain an ill motivated, under equipped, sometimes hungry and dispirited army.

It was this weak link that Governor Zulum of Borno state confronted at a check point, collecting tips at a road block.

Here’s something to say about Gov. Zulum. He’s trying to make a difference in his hate filled state. A minority part of the state is Christian. That’s Southern Borno. It is the least developed part of the State. Perhaps better to say that it has no development at all. They seem never to be under any development consideration by whatever government, mainly run by Muslims who make up the majority in Borno and Yobe States.

Boko Haram seems to have taken a cue from the government. So whenever they want to kidnap school girls as sex slaves or war booty, they go to Southern Borno. That’s where Chibok is.

Their hunting practice is almost always targeted there. The coming of Governor Zulum who is a University professor, is trying to change the optics on the region by showing the beleaguered region, some love. Even though he is a Muslim, he went to spend Christmas in Southern Borno The unprecedented point was an excellent move.

As Governor Zulum’s ratings continued to soar, he drove incognito to a military outpost and observed soldiers collecting tips from commuters plying the road. His angry outburst to sympathize with his subjects had the opposite effect of alienating the already dispirited army, who have overstayed at their duty posts, many hungry and their families broken up due to their long absence from home. Some for four years or thereabouts without, going on any appreciable leave to spend with their families.

Many of the soldiers have been sharing videos about derelict equipment and fighting under harsh conditions.

After what they felt was a humiliating impasse, it was said that a security advice was rejected by Governor Zulum.

Now Boko Haram has surged, and the people are trekking out in sorrow once again.

Governor Zulum has access to the military top brass and the President. Couldn’t he have turned his observations and what needs to be done in respect of re kitting and motivating the army ?

His action was bad optics. Maybe he should have done away with emotionalism. Acted pragmatically. Rebuke the army, yes. But find out the problem behind the toll collection, try and solve some of their problems, then build bridges of confidence to motivate them.

Greg Abolo

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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