By Abraham Olatokunbo
Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, says the situation in Borno State should not be seen as an isolation, warning that should the tide not be immediately changed the nation may be consumed by it.
Speaking in Maiduguri during a visit with four other governors on solidarity visit on recent attacks on the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum by Boko Haram, Fayemi said: “if we do not tame the tide of the problem that we are seeing here, it will inexorably consume our entire country.
That’s why we must associate with you, we must demonstrate solidarity and show concern so that not just at our own level but the leadership in the entire country that is already doing a lot to confront this challenge, will also do more.”
Fayemi who led other governors including Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto who is Vice Chairman of the NGF, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi who chairs APC’s Progressive Governors Forum, and Simon Lalong of Plateau State who chairs the Northern Governors Forum.
The NGF Chairman said that at different times when some governors spoke to Zulum about his safety and concern about his movements in tough terrains, he had always replied “what about my people in Borno State, what happens to them?” under Borno’s war situation.”
He said: “This is not the first time you (Zulum) have been attacked, but you always said to me and to a lot of our colleagues that it is God that will protect. Even when we say to you, Prof, you have to be careful, you have to be vigilant, you have to protect yourself, you always reply by saying, what about the people? It is my duty, the primary responsibility I have as Governor is the security and welfare of our people and that is what you have been discharging.”
The Ekiti Governor also said that Zulum has been quite frank in high level engagements including with President Muhammadu Buhari over the problems facing Borno state.
Fayemi said: “Not long ago, you (Zulum) and I (Fayemi) had a meeting with Mr. President on these issues. You were very frank with Mr President about what is going on here, the difficulty that the military is experiencing, and the challenges that our people have in returning back to their communities. Your determination to ensure that the local population is returned so that they can go back to their farmlands, so that they can return to their normal lives. In spite of all your efforts, inspite of the work you continue to do, it is obvious that we still have a lot to do as a country.
“As your brothers, we shall not relent in also expressing to the authorities, the importance of nipping this in the bud so that calm and peace return to Borno and this can serve as a vehicle for peace and development in the rest of our country. That is what has brought us. It is to let you know that you are not alone, it is to commiserate with the families of the people who have unfortunately lost their lives in the line of duty. And it is to render our support, our country needs to do more.”
The NGF Chairman said the four Governors were in Borno State on behalf of all Governors in the country.
“Your Excellency , we your brothers are here on behalf of all of us, 35 Governors of the Nigerian State. This delegation was carefully put together inspite of your own reluctance to let us come. We have been on this for two days, you said no, we should not come all the way here to commiserate. But we felt we were duty bound to be here in solidarity and in commiseration, and to let you know that you are not alone on this committed struggle to end the insurgency in Borno State, and to stop the carnage that is daily afflicting our people here” Fayemi said.
The NGF Chairman said all Governors consider the insecurity in Borno as a collective problem which should be addressed with renewed vigour and commitment.
In his response, Governor Zulum expressed gratitude to the Nigerian Governors Forum represented by his four colleagues for the empathy demonstrated towards the people of Borno.
Zulum highlighted that Borno was facing serious humanitarian issues which he said was of great concern to him, noting that the solution lies with supporting dignified return of willing IDPs to safe and rebuilt communities where they can return to making livelihoods.
Continuous dependance on food aid from donors, he said, was no longer sustainable given huge population of those in need.
Also, Borno Government, in its policy, does not force any displaced to return to communities, Zulum reiterated.
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