BORNO State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, yesterday, said that the doubt in certain quarters on whether or not the Chibok school girls were actually abducted by Boko Haram insurgents and the theory that the kidnap was staged managed by his government was as painful as the actual abduction.
Shettima also described as a sad tale, the fact that Nigeria pays more emphasis on politics than finding solutions to the nation’s numerous problems.He was responding to the address by the Chairman of the Presidential Fact Finding Committee on the Abduction of Chibok School Girls, Brig, Gen. Ibrahim Sabo (rtd.)
He said, “Borno has seen evil times. Our people have suffered. At times, when I lament this carnage in the midst of some associates, they remind me that I did not create Boko Haram, that in fact, I inherited it in 2011 when I was sworn-in amidst near complete breakdown of security in Maiduguri, the largest and most populated part of the state. But I normally say to them, that a leader is elected or appointed to solve problems, it does not matter whether the leader created the problem or not. A leader is elected to find solution (to problems), this is governance. There is a whole difference between politics and governance.
“In politics, you tell the general public and victims about a problem, you tell them the gravity of the problem; and with emphasis, you tell them who to blame for it. But in governance, you identify a problem and work hard to solve it.
Unfortunately for us in this interesting country, we all appear to lay more emphasis on politics than governance. The Chibok incident, for me, has grossly exposed our weighty weakness as leaders in terms of assuming our shared responsibilities.
”In the two or three months, the entire Western world mobilized men and resources, contributed so much funds in the search for a Malaysian airline which is believed to have crashed into the ocean. Majority in the western world suspect that the crew and passengers of that Malaysian airline are most probably dead.
Despite that, massive investment was and is still being deployed in the search for whatever can be found as remains of those in that plane and its wreckage. Now, while that is going on, here is Nigeria, there was a report that over 200 human creatures, young Nigerian girls about completing their secondary school education, were attacked in their school at night and whisked away like slaves in ancient years.
”Some Nigerians, one of them a former Minister and one time member of the Federal Executive Council which is the highest decision making body of this country, worst of all, a woman and a mother came out to cast doubt over the abduction of these schoolgirls. That woman completely disregarded the sensitivity of that issue, the pains of the agonizing parents and our pains as a government, to whom, the parents of these girls, cry out in desperation and unimaginable confusion and anguish.
“Every other unreasonable Nigerian that came to adopt that view, only anchored the unfortunate view that was first expressed by Mrs Kema Chikwe.
Doubt over that abduction pained me as much as the incident itself. Doubt over that abduction pained me far more than the childish theory that as government, we staged that abduction in order to create basis to stop the extension of emergency rule in Borno.
”By the way, that theory does not make the slightest sense. In relation to that theory, if a government does not want extension of emergency and chooses to fake happenings, the government should rather deny that the abduction ever took place, evil as that is, because the abduction is enough basis for the emergency extension given the fact that the incident puts a message across that there is new and big threat to students in schools hence the need for extension of emergency rule.
”Then, there was the issue of saying Chibok was not safe and we went ahead to open the school.
Majority of these students are from Chibok axis, if the school was considered unsafe, I do not think any right thinking parent would allow his or her child to study in an atmosphere of high risk. In the last three years, we have witnessed the most turbulent of times as a people. I have seen very terrible incidents as a governor.
I have come across innocent citizens of Borno State killed in thousands, some slaughtered by fellow human beings who think they earn rewards from God by their brutality. ”I have witnessed high scale of destructions inflicted on us as a people in Borno by fellow human beings who again think they earn reward from God by their intentional and planned devastations.
I have in the last 36 days, also come across a situation where men abducted young, innocent schoolgirls, separated them from their education, from their parents, from their relations and friends and from their environment and more disturbing also, attempted to separate them from their own religion out of compulsion.
”To every other Muslim, worldwide, these men that kill, destroy and abduct, insult Islam by calling themselves Muslims. They have contradicted every single tenet of the Islamic religion. They have in some cases, tried to change the ordained translation of verses in the Holy Quran. To every Muslim, a verse of the Holy Quran has clearly said that there is no compulsion in religion.
But to these men of violence, there is compulsion not only in religion but even in Islamic ideology. To these men, any human who does not share their ideology deserves to be brutally killed. A Muslim that is not of the Boko Haram sect is condemned to death and so is Christian. To them, the human race should go into extinction for their doctrine to thrive.”
Shettima then approved N150 million for the rehabilitation of the 53 girls who escaped from the Boko Haram captivity and for the assistance of the traumatized parents whose daughters are still held in captivity, adding, “It hurts me, however, that there was no kind of politics that was not introduced into that unfortunate Chibok incident. Even religion was brought in, all for the purpose of the blame game. The politics did not help anybody at the end of the day.
Soon after that incident, we thought that our 53 daughters that either witnessed that attack or escaped from abduction be flown abroad for psychological counselling and some medical examinations. But then, with politics of doubt over the abduction, if the state government had flown these 53 girls abroad, the doubting Thomases would have used that to claim that the 53 girls were non-existent or they would have probably said, we were taking the girls away from the public, probably because we had something to hide.”
The governor who said the state government had spent N1 billion since the beginning of the year as palliative to victims of Boko Haram insurgency, added, “Unfortunately, we had to hold what we should have done for Chibok because of the politics brought in. If we had released some material support earlier, some bad elements would have said we tried to buy the people of Chibok. Unlike other communities in which private houses and markets were destroyed, public institutions like the school, council secretariat, the residence of the council chairman and some few shops were destroyed in Chibok.
”Communities did not suffer material losses. But then, from our immediate thoughts when the attack took place and also based on our recent discoveries, most of the parents of these abducted girls have nothing to eat, they are so traumatized that they have abandoned their sources of livelihood. No true mother would easily concentrate on any line of business when her daughter is in the hands of violent abductors. The same for most fathers.
“I have a girl-child; I know the psychological connection between the girl-child and parents. One can hardly even pay the required attention in prayers due to the perpetual trauma of having one’s girl-child in dangerous hands. So, are we going to continue to ignore these suffering parents and the 53 girls just because we are afraid of political accusations and false interpretations? The answer is no.
Sincerity of purpose
Governance is beyond the fear of accusations, governance entails making a decision with sincerity of purpose and for the good of the society.
”The Borno State government will set aside the N150 million to fund a rehabilitation programme for the 53 girls and to support parents in Chibok whose sources of livelihood have been truncated by their trauma, leaving them with little or nothing to feed while we continue to work immeasurably for the release of the girls being held.
Mr Chairman, members of this important committee, the Borno State government is committed to sincere and active collaboration with the Federal Government and all other support groups in our collective fight against insurgency.
”In continued collaboration, however, we must trust each other’s sincerity of purpose. I see misconception about those behind Boko Haram as one major hindrance to fighting the insurgency. So long we continue to look the wrong way on who is or are behind Boko Haram, there would be lack of focus on the part of most stakeholders and in which case, the victims would remain the accused.”
Earlier Brig. Gen. Sabo assured that the committee was ready to carry on with its task with absolute patriotism and fear of God.
He said they cannot but condole with the people and government of Borno State who have been traumatized as a result of the loses that have resulted from the Boko Haram insurgency over time.