Frustrated, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima was in Abuja yesterday to brief President Goodluck Jonathan on the latest attack by suspected Boko Haram members, admitting that the Islamist sect parades more sophisticated weapons and better motivated by their backers to continue to unleash terror on the North-East.
The insurgents were reported to have killed over 100 people in Izge village in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State last Saturday.
The attack came three days after gunmen stormed the same village and killed dozens of people including nine soldiers in a shoot-out.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents, Shettima, who was visibly shaken by the development in the last few days, said political leaders should be held responsible for the failure to halt deadly attacks.
Shettima said that the North-East in particular was in a state of war and it was high time political leaders stop playing the ostrich, pulling out all available resources to tackle the menace.
The governor who said he was more interested in stopping the carnage by the terrorist group rather than elections, regretted that the sect was yet to meet a formidable response from the government to deter their attacks.
Asked what would stop Boko Haram, Shettima said: “Well, in a nutshell, what we are being confronted with is that we are in a state of war. It is what I came to update Mr. President with, the sooner we stop playing the ostrich and rise up to the challenges of the day, and marshall all resources towards neutralising the antics of Boko Haram, the better for all of us.
“But the bottom-line is that we need more resources, more vote on ground. In all fairness to the officers and men of the Nigerian Army and Police, they are doing their best given the circumstances they have found themselves in. But honestly, Boko Haram is better armed and better motivated than our own troops. And believe me, I am an eternal optimist as I have always said, but I am also a realist. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram,” Shettima said.
On the threat by Boko Haram to be more deadly if Cameroon assists Nigeria to fight it, the governor said: “I am not privy to such an information but the President has assured us that he will put in his best to see that the unfortunate tendency of the Boko Haram overrunning communities and butchering innocent souls is brought under control”.
Asked if the President was made to understand that Boko Haram is better armed, he said, “I made it emphatically clear to Mr. President that Boko Haram is better armed and better motivated, anybody who is following events in this country can attest to the fact that the insurgents have a very smooth sail overrunning communities, killing people. Have we ever succeeded in thwarting any of their plans? They went to Konduga and did what they wanted to do, they held sway for over five hours before they left. They were in Kauri, Izge and I don’t blame the Nigerian military, honestly, we, the leaders should be held responsible for our failure in leadership”.
On the casualty figure, Shettima said: “In Izge alone, we lost 106 people and they raided eight other communities, so, until I get back home, today or tomorrow, I cannot give you the exact figure. But some were hospitalized with very great injuries, so, I am afraid the figures might climb”.
On the threat of the sect’s attack affecting next year’s election, the governor said, “It is foolhardy for anybody to talk about election when human lives are involved, power comes from God and He gives power to whom He will. I don’t care a hoot whether elections are here but I do care that peace is restored in Borno and the North-East sub-region, so people should stop playing politics”.
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja