Boko Haram: Northeast governors seek more troops, equipment

Shettima •Insist on 2015 election in peaceful atmosphere            

•Jonathan, governors, security chiefs meet

Governors in the Northeast  yesterday met with President Goodluck Jonathan and the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

It was all about security ahead of next month’s elections.

Governors Kashim Shettima (Borno) , Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe),  Bala Ngilari (Adamawa) and Geidam’s predecessor,  Bukar Abba Ibrahim, attended the meeting.  The three states are under a state of emergency.

The governors insisted on deployment of more troops and equipment to stop the Boko Haram insurgency.

They insisted on the elections holding in the area under a peaceful arena.

Geidam said: “We have come to brief the President on the security features of our various states. We have come to greet him and we told him of the challenges we have been facing. We are appealing to the Federal Government to deploy more troops, in addition to what we have on ground to arrest the situation in our various states.

“We need more troops, the troops on ground we have in our various states are not enough to contain the situation, so we are appealing to the Federal Government to deploy additional troops with full equipment to tame the situation. We don’t have any state of emergency now, so you are not correct.” he said

“ Elections will hold, that is the position of the Electoral Commission and definitely in all those areas where the insurgency exist, elections will hold.”

Shettima said the security agencies were rising up to the task.

“Well, we had very fruitful deliberations and pollination of ideas on how to find lasting solution to the insurgency bedeviling us in that part of the world. I’m an eternal optimist  –  and I am passionate too for that matter –  that we shall have enduring peace very soon, with the very robust framework on ground. We don’t want to mention a date or anything but I believe our military is rising to the challenges of the time.

“Our military will robustly respond to the challenges I believe. Like I said earlier, I’m an eternal optimist. We have to hope for the best against whatever odds.”

Speaking on how many local government areas are held by the insurgents, he said: “Well, there are some local government areas that are partially under the control of the insurgents and there are some that are largely under our control.

“I really don’t want to bolster Boko Haram by quoting numbers and figures because these lunatics feast on the oxygen of publicity. The more publicity they get, the happier they become. I don’t want to give them that luxury.

“But I want to assure you that with 1,000 years of recorded history, Borno shall rise again, in spite of all the challenges, believe me Inshallah.”

On whether the military are getting more motivated than before, Shettima said: “They are making efforts. I want to leave it at that. I don’t want to pass any negative comment. They are people with blood running in their veins, facing the insurgents and so I have to be respectful of the institution.”

He also said that Nigeria does not have any option than to win the war against insurgency.

The governor said: “We must win, we have no option. Elections will be held –  by the grace of God. We are facing real extinction threat to our culture, to our people and to our civilisation. It is amazing when people dwell so much on the elections.  Elections are for the living, but elections are being conducted in war-torn Afghanistan, election was conducted recently in Iraq, in Syria and so many other places. So, it is not an issue in contention; the most important issue is how to safeguard the lives and property of our people, how to recover our lost territories, the Chibok girls.

“You have daughters; you have sons; how will you feel if your daughter is forcibly taken away from you for the past 267 days. So, I want to dwell more on how to safeguard the lives and properties of our people, how to get back the Chibok girls, how to recover our lost territories.

“Two days ago (Sunday) it clocked exactly five months since Gwoza fell to the insurgents, Bama is now firmly under their control. M Muba, Abadam, Kukawa – all tales of woes, of devastations, of destruction, of killings. This is the sad tale that is coming out of Borno.”

The governor went on: “We are titled chief security officers of our states. But our most important task is to offer whatever support be it logistics, financial to the military to carry out on their operations. Honestly, I don’t want to dwell on the politics behind the counter-insurgency operations because we are one people with a common destiny. And this is the time for all of us, irrespective of differences in political affiliations, religious persuasions, tribal or sectional background to collapse into a single course and bring about this madness to an end.”

“Elections can be held in the IDP camps, it is human beings that conduct elections not spirit or anything. My take on this is that, are we giving in to Boko Haram? Are we giving in to their antics by not holding elections? We have to tell them to their face that you can kill as Malala said but you cannot kill our spirit.” he stated

With Shekau claiming that the Chibok girls have been married out, he said: “Shekau is a lunatic. He is a deranged element; he is not somebody anybody should give any molecule of respect. His actions are beneath the act of even an animal, believe me.

“But, as I said, we are not resting on our oars; we will continue to support the military by providing them with quality information when it becomes available. We believe in spite of people’s pessimism that in the fullness of time and not in a distance far off, we are going to get back the girls; we hope to,” he said

Also speaking yesterday, the Chief of Defence Statff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, promised that security will this year.

On whether Chad and Niger forces had pulled out of the Multinational force, he said: “No. They have not pulled out of Multinational force because we have held several meetings; they are still part of the Multinational force.”

“What has been happening is that they have not contributed troops to the point of Baga. Chad has people on their own side but I believe they have withdrawn. Niger had people with us they too withdrew and left Nigeria only at the multinational force headquarters.”

On the suggestion that the borders between Nigeria and Chad, Nigeria and Niger should be closed, he said: “I wish it could be closed but how do you close such a very large border? And it is not for military to close border any way or is it?”

On the attack on the military base in Baga, A Chief Marshal Badeh said: “Of course, there was an attack. Don’t worry we are at work.”

On whether Baga can be reclaimed, he said:”Why not? I can’t give you exactly what is going to happen.”

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