Borno State governor Alhaji Kashim Shettima has challenged both the federal and the state government to join hands to discover the Boko Haram ghosts in order to negotiate with them.
The challenge was the highpoint of the address Governor Shettima presented to President Goodluck Jonathan on the occasion of the president’s working visit to the state yesterday.
The president had, on Thursday in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, said that the federal government would not grant amnesty to ghosts under the guise of Boko Haram members.
But the governor in his address yesterday said, “We are convinced beyond any doubt that the ultimate resolution of this crisis lies in the resort to a political solution.”
Quoting from a renowned American author, Robert Fulghum, Governor Shettima said: “We must know and accept that peace is not something we just wish for; it’s something we have to make ourselves, it is a gift we offer to ourselves. We do not do a favour to anyone by charting the course of peace because trouble is mobile; it steadily comes to our safe homes when we fail to share efforts to stop it from breathing in the very far.”
Remarking that life is a continuum for the resolution of conflicts, Governor Shettima urged the federal government not to shy away from taking the option. “Unless we want to engage in an endless war of attrition, it would be defeatist to foreclose any discussion with the sect, especially with the moderate elements of the Boko Haram,” he urged.
While thanking the federal government for the anticipated intervention to contain insurgency in the state and other states in the country, the governor also appealed for more efforts to be geared towards the deployment of cutting-edge technology for the attainment of rapid success. “The widespread deployment of CCTV cameras, devices for the detection of arms, ammunition, bombs and explosives will go a long way in ameliorating the situation,” he said.
Shettima specifically enjoined the federal government to come up with a Marshall Plan for the north-east geopolitical zone in the same way it did for the Niger Delta to tackle the twin menace of poverty and insecurity.
According to him, integral to that Marshall Plan should be the recharging of the dwindling Lake Chad, the water resource which has the potential of positively transforming the lives of more than 30 million people spread on the shores of the region.
Governor Shettima suggested, among other issues, the following specifics to constitute part of the proposed plan:
*The recharging of the fast-shrinking Lake Chad through the diversion of water from River Congo.
*The facilitation for the quick exploration and exploitation of oil in the Chad Basin area as seismic analysis shows large deposits of hydrocarbons so that Borno State can join the league of oil-producing states.
*The completion of the 330KV line to enable the state enjoy a much improved supply of electricity.
*The construction in the state of a solar and/or wind-powered energy farm with an installed capacity of 30 kilowatts.
*An intervention on almajiri quranic education – called “Tsangaya” in Borno State.
*The accelerated completion of the Kano-Maiduguri dual carriageway, the only one of its kind in the entire north-east zone.
Jonathan Faults Borno Elders, Demands Peace Pact On Insurgency
President Jonathan yesterday lost his cool and descended on elders of Borno State over their insistence that the military Joint Task Force (JTF) be withdrawn from the state following allegation of atrocities committed by the soldiers in revenge of the killing of their colleagues.
He accused the elders of being responsible for the escalation of terrorist attacks in Borno at a time such cases were declining in states such as Gombe, Kano, Bauchi and Yobe, which were also hit by the insurgence.
“If elders in Borno State cannot talk to members of Boko Haram, their destructive activities would not reduce and nobody would bring such activities down,” the president stated, even as he reminded the elders that it was the circumstances prevailing in the state as well as the sophisticated weapons used by the insurgents that informed the deployment of the JTF to the state.
The elders at a Town Hall meeting in Borno Government House, marking the two-day visit to Borno and Yobe, had insisted that it was time the JTF left the state. They included former vice chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof. Nura Alkali; elder statesman Shettima Ali Monguno and the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Baba Basharu.
They unanimously contended that there was no alternative to dialogue between the federal government and Boko Haram.