By Ochimana Abutu
The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, has been in the news for various reasons. Some positive while some negative. It becomes challenging to place which side of the divide the governor is with his media tirade against the Nigerian Military’s operations in Borno state.
The governor’s recent posture indeed brings to fore some of the dynamics of the Boko Haram insurgency in the state and why Borno state has remained the only state in North East that still experiences pockets of Boko Haram activities.
In some of my previous writings, I recall that I had aligned with some civil society organizations that stated that the issue in Borno State is the refusal by the political authorities in the state to extend their support to the Nigerian military for extraordinary reasons. And the governor has indeed confirmed this position with the inconsistency in which it has praised and criticized the military’s operations in the state.
This minute he praises the Nigerian Army to high heavens. The next minute he lashes out with such carelessness that would make even the dumbest individual smell a rat somewhere. He gets erratic and composed at the state time. His body language indeed tells that he knows the truth about the prolongation of Boko Haram’s activities in the state. His conscience is probably fighting him, which is why he says contradictory stuff within minutes.
It is no longer a secret that indeed the governor of Borno State is under tremendous pressure to do the bidding of his political masters who do not want the Boko Haram crisis to end. From all indications, the governor is fighting a battle of extreme consequences from two fronts; one is from his benefactor and former governor Kashim Shettima. The other is from the warlords from his Kanuri ethnic stock.
We must agree that these two factors indeed place the governor in a very tight corner regarding the prosecution of the war against insurgency. He gets bashed whenever he speaks the truth about the happenings in the state from two ends. The most painful one is always from his benefactor and former governor who from all intent and purposes is still wanting that political relevance at the national level hence his often misguided tirade against the government’s efforts in the prosecution of the war against insurgency.
I am not convinced that Kashim Shettima has any moral right or authority to want to teleguide Babagana Zulum or to comment on national issues in this country because in the eight years he held sway as governor it was established that he was comfortable with the ferociousness of the Boko Haram group so much so that the group advanced and gained control of territories in the state.
This is indeed the situation of things in Borno State and why Babagana Zulum has been speaking from both sides of the mouth in recent times. This is the problem. He knows the truth. He is a man entangled in Godfatherism’s web at one end and his ethnic stocks who have refused to tackle the Boko haram problems.
In my candid opinion, Babagana Zulum’s actions are merely grandstanding in a bid to paint a picture of a workaholic governor who has the interest of the people at heart. And I beg to ask what good is such grandstanding when you elect to turn the truth on its head? In whose interest is it for the governor to continue to issues disparaging remarks about the Nigerian Military operations in the state?
All of the above-stated points to the direction of the political heavyweights in Borno State feeding fat from the Boko Haram crisis. As such, it must not come to an end because that would mean taking away butter from their bread. So it should not be surprising that of all states in northeast Nigeria, only Borno state is still experiencing pockets of Boko Haram attacks.
I am also of the considered opinion that the posture of Governor Babagana Zulum is nothing but the voice of Zulum and the leprous hand of Shettima who hates to see peace return to Borno State. I am also constrained to believe that part of Zulum’s problem is that he knows the issues, and he has dared to demonstrate a commitment toward addressing them, which remains his greatest undoing.
And for daring to be different, the warriors of Kanem Bornu Empire would have none of it. They have threatened to withdrawn political support for him should he credit the Military for its exploits in the state. Little wonder that today he says the Military has done well and the next day he says otherwise.
This is indeed sad and a reminder to all that the bulk of the challenges in Borno State are orchestrated and perpetuated by those that during the day pride themselves as concerned citizens while at night they are demons that feed fat on human blood. This is the starkness of the reality on the ground in Borno state.
Nigerians must consequently be aware that the criticism of the Nigerian Military in Borno State is well orchestrated to cause a distraction of the troops in its efforts at ridding the state of remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents. This was what Kashim Shettima entrenched while he held sway as governor for eight years. He expects Babagana Zulum to toe the same line.
How this would turn out remains to be seen as the truth is gradually coming out and Nigerians are beginning to see that indeed Borno State remains under that attack of Boko Haram not because the military are not doing their job, but essentially because of the internal conspiracy perpetrated by those in high and mighty places in the state. This is indeed a shame.
Abutu is a public affairs analyst writing from Yola.