by: Yusuf Alli
Borno State is grounded by the Boko Haram insurgency, Secretary to the State Government Alhaji Baba Ahmad Jidda said yesterday.
He asked all political leaders and stakeholders to unite and meet with President Goodluck Jonathan on how to salvage the situation.
He also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the proposed by-election for Jere House of Assembly Constituency.
Jidda, who made his views known in a statement in Abuja, said there is urgent need for peace in the state.
He said he issued the statement in his private capacity having been disturbed by the deteriorating situation.
The statement said: “A deep appraisal of the condition prevailing in Borno State at the moment shows a disrupted environment that is in desperate need of peace and restoration.
“As a result of the insurgency caused by Boko Haram, large swathes of the land in the state is currently inaccessible. Normal governmental, economic, social and political activities have been dislocated, with huge numbers of displaced persons living in refugee camps in Maiduguri, neighbouring states as well as Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“The state of emergency is still in force, with its attendant curfews and restrictions on free movement and assembly.
“The Maiduguri Airport is also closed, limiting access significantly to and out of Borno State. The threat to security of lives and property as a result of the criminal activities of the Boko Haram insurgents is everywhere and indeed the limited peace prevailing in Maiduguri and the few other areas is achieved largely due to alertness and corporation of the Civilian JTF and the security agencies.
“Moreover, the search and rescue efforts for the abducted Chibok School girls remain on the front burner.
“The above scenario presents a troubling condition that affects all and sundry in Borno State and the Norteast as a zone.”
Jidda gave an insight into the biting effects of the insurgency on the citizenry.
He said: “At this very moment, most parts of Borno State are being occupied by Boko Haram insurgents. Government presence and administration is minimal or non-existent across many parts of the state, with economic, commercial and social services totally subdued. Schools and clinics remain closed.
“Most settlements in the affected areas in the state have either been deserted or access to them practically impossible, thus majority of the political stakeholders cannot, in real fact reach their constituencies.
“So, the threat of insecurity affects everybody, irrespective of political differences. The enabling environment for politics and electioneering campaign is simply not obtainable at present in Borno State.”
The SSG said he was not after political gains, but he felt he had a duty to speak out.
He added: “At this juncture, it is pertinent to make some clarifications. Even though I remain a member of All Progressives Congress (APC), current SSG in Borno State and having served the nation in the past as Ambassador of the Federal Republic and SSA to the President, I make this particular call in my individual capacity, as a privileged citizen and elder in Borno State.
“I, therefore, crave your indulgence not to see my current endeavour from any political standpoint, but one borne out of patriotic interest for the peace and development of Borno State, the Northeast Zone and Nigeria.”
Jidda begged all stakeholders and political leaders in the state to rise up to the challenge and make representation to the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to assist the state.
He said the immediate priority of the people is peace and not election.
He added: “As things stand now, the priority of the citizens is the immediate return of peace and restoration of basic social and economic conditions. In the view of many, the thought about politics and pursuit of political interest in this environment appears absurd, callous and morally repulsive.
“In the light of the foregoing, I hereby make a clarion call on all the leaders and stakeholders of Borno State, regardless of political, religious and ethnic differences, to come together to address the challenge posed by insecurity in the state.
“ It is a well-known fact that all over the world, when societies are challenged by a consuming crises or epidemic, citizens unite, putting aside partisan and personal differences, to solve problems that threaten the existence of the entire society. It will suffice to mention here the example of the proactive approach adopted by the Federal Government against the spread of the Ebola Virus, which has received national and international commendation. If similar proactive approach had been applied to the insurgency at inception, I strongly believe the escalation of the insurgency would have been curtailed.
“In the light of this grim scenario, it is absolutely essential for all patriotic citizens of Borno State to rise up in a united spirit to focus and solve the challenges posed by insecurity, which is a real threat to our collective survival. In this regard, it is hereby proposed, first, that a meeting of all stakeholders, elders and statesmen from Borno State, irrespective of sectarian, ethnic and political persuasions, should be convened to review the state of affairs in Borno State.
“ Second, this group should seek audience with the President of the Federal Republic to present collectively the unbearable conditions imposed on the people of Borno State by these crises, including the agony and pains of the abducted Chibok girls and their parents.
“Such an approach is expected to specifically open gates for decisively tackling insecurity and its attendant economic and social burdens on our Borno State, the Northeast Zone and Nigeria as a whole. This approach is envisaged to rescue Borno State and return peace to create the essential environment for normal life and politics.
The SSG also urged INEC to shelve the proposed bye-election for Jere Local Government House of Assembly Constituency.
He said: “Finally, related to this, is the proposed bye-election for Jere Local Government House of Assembly Constituency. It is imperative to appeal to INEC to postpone forthwith, this bye-election slated for 3rd October 2014. This fervent call is necessary because the environment is not conducive for conducting elections.
“At the moment, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council and Jere Local Government are full of refugees from Marte, Gwoza, Ngala, Bama and other parts of the state.
“Once again, I wish to stress that in Borno State today, restoration of peace and normal life should be the essential and urgent concern. Pursuit of personal or partisan interests can wait till peace, law and order are fully obtained.”
by: Yusuf Alli