Zulum, Masari and the burden of governance in Borno, Katsina
…As Boko Haram, bandits increase terror campaign in states
Although the states being governed by Governors Babagana Zulum and Aminu Masari are not within the same geo-political zone, they have something in common- terrorism!
Although the two governors preside over different states, they again share something in common- lamentation!
Both of them have lost so many of their indigenes to attacks of insurgents and bandits, respectively, and they have always appealed to the seat of power in Abuja for intervention.
For the umpteenth time, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State last week insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari must know the truth about the security situation in the North East and the serious sabotage going on.
He insisted that there was sabotage in the system that would not allow terrorists to stop operating in the region.
The governor spoke during a meeting with his counterparts from Kebbi and Jigawa States, Atiku Bagudu and Badaru Abubakar, respectively who paid him a solidarity visit over the recent attack in Baga.
Zulum said some elements were trying to frustrate the effort of the government in ending terrorism, adding that Buhari needs to know the truth.
“Let me also re-echo my previous position with respect to the level of insurgency in Borno State, I earlier said that the gravity of the insurgency cannot be compared with what has happened between 2011 to 2015, and 2015 to date. Yes, it’s true. The President has done well.
“But there’s sabotage in the system that will not allow insurgency to end; the President has to know this very important point.
“When he came to Maiduguri two months ago, I said so because between 2011 and 2015, at a time, almost about 22 LGAs were under the insurgents,” the governor said.
He lamented that out of the four roads that lead to the State capital, Maiduguri, only one was functional.
Zulum urged Buhari to examine the security situation in the North East critically, to ensure the effort of the current administration was not in vain.
When on May 29, 2019 Zulum was inaugurated as governor of Borno State to succeed Kashim Shettima, he inherited the state’s assets and liabilities as it were.
Since 2009, the state has been the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency, where blood of several hundreds of Nigerians has been needlessly spilled.
Before he exited office, Shettima had on many occasions been pictured shedding tears over the menace of the Islamist sect and the wastage of lives that greeted their bloody campaign. On many occasions, he cried to President Buhari and to the highest echelon of security authorities in Abuja, seeking intervention in the low-grade war that has been raging in the region.
As governor, Shettima escaped death a number of times as the insurgents laid ambush to his convoy. During some of his Save-Our-Souls (SOS) visits to Aso Rock, he met with President Buhari, with three senators from the state, members of the House of Representatives, the Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser, Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Less than four months after Zulum was sworn in as Shettima’s successor, he began to see the good, the bad and the ugly sides of power. He daily hears the cries of agony of his subjects and the intimidating and taunting voices of the insurgents who launch deadly attacks from their fortress in the dreaded Sambisa forest.
Like Shettima, Zulum has reportedly made a tearful and passionate appeal to the President over the wicked activities of Boko Haram, a sect that has held some Chibok School girls abducted in 2014 up till now, and has also refused to let go a Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, violently taken away along others from their school in a sleepy community in Yobe State.
Sometime in August 2019, following renewed attacks on communities in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents, Governor Zulum ran to the seat of power in Abuja where he appealed to President for urgent plans to effectively police the Nigerian borders along the embattled state.
Borno, located on the North Eastern part of Nigeria, borders the country’s neighbours, including Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Zulum lamented the renewed attacks in Borno communities of Gubio and Magumeri, burning government establishments and religious worship centres.
The insurgency in the state got to a point that Baga, a fishing village as well as surrounding ones such as Dalori, Konduga, Dala Shuwa, Dala Karamsu, Mammanti, Zabarmari were taken over by the insurgents.
For years now, Nigerian soldiers have been engaged in a fierce battle with Boko Haram fighters in Gudumbali town, the headquarters of Guzamala Local Government Area where Metele, the village where soldiers were recently massacred, is located.
Recall also that reports had it that heavily armed jihadists, riding in trucks stormed and looted weapons and vehicles from a military base in Garunda village in the state, the epicentre of the Islamist insurgency. Residents of Molai, a village four kilometres off Maiduguri, were recently on the run following a heavy gunfire between soldiers and Boko Haram fighters.
This is a battle the government’s spokesperson, Lai Muhammed had some years ago claimed has been ‘technically defeated’.
While Zulum is having a hard time in Borno despite his efforts at containing the insurgency, his counterpart in Katsina, the President’s home state, Governor Aminu Masari is having sleepless nights over the bloody campaign of bandits, whose activities have claimed hundreds of lives in the last one year.
Concerned at the increasing menace of insurgents’ activities in Borno, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) last Wednesday appealed to the President to take a drastic step.
They were particularly irked by the attack on Governor Zulum, in which two of his security aides were injured.
The governor had accused some of the troops on the Baga-Monguno road where the attack took place of sabotage. But the military has since denied it, saying its investigation did not reveal any form of sabotage.
The governors condemned the “worsening security situation” in the country as epitome of “our collective vulnerability and the fragility of the country’s security architecture.”
They expressed their readiness to meet with the President and service chiefs to discuss “this worrisome and rapidly degenerating situation.”
Recently, Masari cried out over the insufficiency of police officers and security operatives to challenge the attacks by bandits in the state.
The governor alleged that bandits had become emboldened because of insufficient security operatives to tackle security challenges.
According to him, only 30 policemen were providing security in 100 villages in his state despite increasing attacks.
“Increased deployment of security operatives would complement ongoing efforts to emplace a robust community policing structure, whilst addressing the gross deficit in the number of police personnel available at local levels, which is in the range of an average of about 30 policemen to about 100 villages,” he said.
According to the governor, “If such actions are not taken, even if the bandits were wiped out by the military, another generation of criminal elements would quickly take their place in the absence of governance and adequate policing.”
He added that the bandits are intertwined within the communities so it may be difficult for the NAF or the Army to distinguish them from the locals in order to conduct offensive operations devoid of collateral damage.
Recall that Masari had taken his case to the Aso Villa last week where he spoke with the President. He told journalists thereafter that banditry must be fully battled in Katsina and the North West.
According to him, “For anybody coming from the Northwest part of Nigeria, especially from my part of the geo-political zone, the issue today is about security. We took more than 30 minutes discussing the current situation and what needs to be done is being done.
“Currently (last week), the military is in Katsina for their annual super camp. So, over 2,000 of them are in Katsina to signal to the bandits that the military is ready and willing and have the capability and capacity to deal with the situation. The hope is that the military, including the police and other security agencies, have been given the marching orders.
“To control the situation by all means is a task that must be done because we cannot allow the situation in the North West to develop like it has in the North East. I think the people living in the rural communities will testify that actions are ongoing. Those that have been displaced are being well taken care of.”