Devastated by the recent callous killing of 43 Borno farmers who had gone to their rice farms to work by Boko Haram insurgents, Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum, has suggested to the Federal Government six recommendations on how to tackle the insurgents.
Governor Zulum made the recommendations during the visit of the delegation by the FG to the state to commiserate with the governemnt and people of Borno State on the killings on Monday.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who led the FG delegation, in company of several other senior government functionaries, extended the condolences of the Buhari administration to the Borno people while also assuring the state government of the FG’s commitment to end the insurgency that has been ravaging the state and the northeast generally since 2009.
In his reaction, Governor Zulum, who is obviously tired of how the FG and the military have been handling the insurgency, listed six recommendations which he felt , if well implemented, will end the insurgency that has now made the state unlivable for the people.
He listed the recommendations as:
1.Ensure immediate recruitment of Borno youth into the armed forces to supplement the military.
2.Ensure the engagement of services of neighbours, Chad, Niger and Cameroon in clearing the remnants of the insurgents along the shores of Lake Chad.
3. Engage the services of mercenaries to clear Sambisa game reserve.
4. Provide mine-resistant armoured carriers and other equipment to the military and para military.
5. Support the state government in repatriation of refugees in Niger and Cameroon.
6. Increase the means of livelihood to the people of Borno.
Ever since the recommendations made it to the public, Governor Zulum has received both commendation and criticisms as well.
While some observers have hailed Zulum for the recommendations, even commending him for being bold and fearless in telling the FG what to do, some have picked holes in his recommendations, saying they won’t fly.
As for his suggestion that mercenaries you should be hired to clear out the insurgents in the Sambissa forest area, the consensus among most observers and commentators is that the same arrangement failed in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
An ex-service man, Oluwole Adesina, now resident in the United Kingdom, while commenting on the issue, said hiring mercenaries to fight the insurgents will cost the nation more and that by the time the war is over, the mercenaries may even turn against Nigeria as being witnessed in Libya.
Adesina said calling on mercenaries to fight at this time could demoralize men and officers of the Nigerian Military who have been battling the insurgents since 2009.
On cross border collaboration with Niger, Cameroon and Chad to deactivate the remnants of the insurgents, that’s been on for a while. The only thing left is for the FG to intensify its efforts in collaborating with the neighbouring leaders to clear the insurgents in the Lake Chad region.
Governor Zulum has also recommended that the FG should provide mine-resistant armoured carriers and other equipment to the military and para military. Well, it remains to be seen if President Buhari will consider the recommendation.
The President recently said he had given the military all the needed support and material resources to prosecute the war which suggests that he has got to the upper limit of what he can do. Besides, the military has its annual budget and there is no doubt that since the Buhari administration came on board in 2015, it has consistently raised its votes to the military every financial year. As analysts suggested, more can still be done though to make the Nigerian military a truly formidable one as it used to be in the past.
Recruiting more Borno youth into the Nigerian army won’t necessarily help in combating the insurgents as Governor Zulum suggested. Enrollment into the army is by choice and dependent on the criteria set by the military board for recruitment. Moreover, the army is a diverse institution which entails that there has to be some balance in its ethnic configuration. A situation where one group outnumbers the other won’t be good for the country and the army as an institution.
The crux of Governor Zulum’s six recommendations is that Borno State needs more resources and interventions in order to improve the conditions of living of the people, which is a very valid point.
The state needs rehabilitation, reconstruction and the people also need empowerment, having been displaced for too long and their means of livelihood taken away from them by the murderous insurgents.
In committing more resources to the state, and the northeast generally, however, analysts and observers are saying there has to be accountability and transparency on the part of the political leaders in the region who are in charge of resource mobilization and deployment. They want the leaders and office holders to use the resources committed to the region for the people and not misappropriate them as it often happens.
One particular observer said Nigerians should beam a searchlight on the activities of the North East Development Commission(NEDC) essentially set up for the holistic development of the region.
Since it came into being in 2017, what has it done in terms of actualizing its mandate of coordinating and aggregating development in the northeast?? Is NEDC living up to expectations? Are the people in the northeast feeling its impact? More and more questions begging for answers.