Borno: What options do we take?Address by Governor Babagana Umara Zulum
I will like to start by, once again, registering our depth of eternal gratitude to the good people of Borno State for the overwhelming support and sincere goodwill our administration has been accorded in the last 17 months.
Nothing I say here or anywhere else can best describe the extent of my gratitude to the people of Borno and many Nigerians outside Borno.
We have been shown enormous love and support from day one till date. Above being loved and supported, the people of Borno State have proved to trust us and have faith in what we do.
For me, one of the greatest feats a leader can attain is to earn the trust and confidence of those being led. On the other hand, the worst thing that can happen to any leader is to lose the trust and confidence of the people.
Trust is a burden. When people trust you, they invest their fears and hopes in you and they leave you to your own conviction, your own decisions, and most importantly, they leave you to your fear of Allah or the lack of it.
We are grateful for the trust the people have shown to us and I do solemnly reaffirm that Bi-iznillah, we will not betray the trust and confidence reposed in us by the people of Borno.
As humans, we will continue to do whatever we can, within the limit of our resources and laws, to stand firm in our fight against Boko Haram, and in economic recovery, reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement efforts.
Fellow citizens of Borno, in the midst of our firmness, individual and shared commitments to Borno State, we must always recognize that the kind of challenge Borno is facing, is one that is complex.
Our gallant armed forces in the military, police, DSS, paramilitary and our courageous volunteers in the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes are facing enemies who conceal their identities. We are in battle with an insurgent group which has the advantage of laying ambush from rain-grown grasses, and who oftentimes, use the uniforms of soldiers and Civilian JTF to conceal their movements and presence on our highways.
Quite often, they pretend to be Nigerian soldiers until their victims are in defenseless positions.
These realities account for the notoriety of Boko Haram, especially in these days when rain-fed grasses on highways give them opportunities to hide and ambush their targets.
Oftentimes, I have been confronted with risks of moving around some areas, especially in Northern Borno. As a human being, as a father and husband, I, of course, do not seek harm for myself or anyone.
But then, as a leader, I have often asked myself: should I remain in peaceful Maiduguri where there are less challenges and ignore local government areas where Borno’s challenges actually are? Should we all just sit in Maiduguri and wait till whenever Boko Haram chooses to give us peace?
The reality of our situation creates a conflict between our human needs for safety versus our conscience and obligation to those we represent.
It is not an issue of pride, boasting or to catch the limelight. It is an issue of conscience and obligation.
As we gathered to hold meetings with religious groups here in Maiduguri, there are more than a million homeless fellow citizens who are living in camps at Monguno, Kala-Balge, Ngala, and other parts of Borno. Are we going to ignore their existence by refusing to give them food and get them homes to live and earn livelihoods? Or are we going to converge all the people of Borno to come to Maiduguri? What about those who are not willing to leave their communities?
The solution lies in continued and genuine determination of our armed forces with the support of our gallant volunteers.
We all have roles to play in supporting the military and volunteers in ways that we all can.
One of the easiest ways all citizens can continue to help is never to associate with the insurgents, to pass useful information to security forces and to consistently pray for our armed forces and volunteers. Our prayers should include those risking their lives, including humanitarian workers and those who undertake reconstruction works in communities.
It is against this background that I called for today’s meeting with His Eminence, the Shehu of Borno, the Chief Imam and Imams of Juma’at mosques. We have rubbed minds. I also met with leadership of our Christian brothers and sisters who have consistently shown sincere commitment to our togetherness.
Fellow citizens of Borno State, as an outcome of today’s consultation, I hereby declare Monday, the 19th day of October 2020 as a second day for statewide fasting and prayers for peace in Borno State. I will like to request, with gratitude, that we approach the fast with the same enthusiasm, devotion and faithfulness as we did on Monday February 24, 2020.
I will like to clarify that there will be no public holiday on Monday and there will be no dramatic gatherings. What is required is the purity of our intentions and submission to Allah as we fast and pray from our homes, offices, market shops, other businesses and places of legitimate endeavours.
One of the key goals of fasting together is deferring to the Almighty as a community in worship and hope. Fasting together would also remind us of the realities we face and strengthen the faith and patriotism of our military and volunteers in frontlines as well as others who risk their lives for humanitarian and reconstruction courses.
Our fast in worship should very well include prayers against anyone funding or supporting Boko Haram in any way, and prayers against anyone who consciously benefits from the Boko Haram crisis by any means.
We cannot afford to lag in our steady call upon God to free Borno. The role of prayers, especially one that is combined with practical human efforts, is very critical in our kind of battle that has raged for far too long, with huge and negative consequences.
May Allah accept our prayers and may peace return to Borno, all parts of the northeast and Nigeria.