Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has been urged to match his passion and emotions with strategic action if at all he wants a lasting end to the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism. 

This was contained in an open letter addressed to the governor on Thursday by a certain Alhaji Sherif Bulama, who simply described himself as a concerned native of Gubio Local Government Area of the state. 

Alhaji Bulama, while admitting that the governor has exhibited a “burning zeal and eagerness to confront terrorism and insurgency as evidenced by your passion and commitment” noted that a lot more needs to be done, one of which is a change in strategy. 

According to the Borno indegene, a stakeholders’ dialogue involving Kanuri elders, elites and top government officials is crucial as youths would be educated after such session.

Instead of portraying the military as adversaries, he further charged Mr Zulum to sustain his earlier efforts of cooperating with troops and desist from castigating President Muhammadu Buhari at the slightest instance. 

Alhaji Bulama, however, advised  the governor to restrain from ” impulsive outbursts as every word you say is potent and has far-reaching implications”. 

Read full letter below:

Permit me to, first of all, felicitate with you on the occasion of the Eid-el-Kabir which was peacefully celebrated in our dear state.

Your Excellency, I dare say that nobody who has followed your activities since you became governor in May 2019, would be enchanted by the passion you’ve shown in not only developing the state but in ensuring the security of lives and property of citizens. 

Sir, your escape from harm after an attack on your convoy on your way back from Baga where you had gone to distribute relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, has further confirmed that our affections for your charisma are rightly placed.

Your Excellency, as an indigene of Borno State, Gubio to be precise, I felt ashamed that my governor would suffer the kind of embarrassment you went through in the course of ensuring the distribution of relief materials to IDPs and I wish to assure you of our full support in the course of providing good governance to fellow natives and inhabitants of Borno.

Sir, for you to achieve the goal of developing and securing our state, permit me to as a well-meaning citizen, offer my candid advice and suggestions on some of the ways the security challenges in our dear state can be better eliminated. 

Why Passion Alone Cannot Suffice

Your Excellency, much as you have shown burning zeal and eagerness to confront terrorism and insurgency as evidenced by your passion and commitment, permit me to say that these emotions alone cannot be sufficient to take us to the promised land.

I have noticed also Sir, that in the course of trying to prove you’re on the side of the masses, that you’ve thrown caution to the wind and have been attacking the military and even the President.

This, Your Excellency, is a path that you must avoid despite the initial cheers you’re receiving as it is both uncharitable and counterintuitive for you to continue on the route given the level of sacrifice the military has put to protect citizens and defend the territorial integrity of our nation.

Like you stated in one of your speeches, the efforts and sacrifice of the military since the insurgency began in 2009, cannot be overemphasized.

At the risk of sounding pedagogical, let me remind Your Excellency, that the military has achieved a lot in the fight against insurgency and terrorism and are largely responsible for the current normalcy in the state. This is a well-known fact that no one on earth can ignore.

Why the Military Should be Appreciated

Apart from what they have achieved in the past, the military since the coming of the current administration has been able to overrun the operational base of the Boko Haram terrorists at Sambisa forest and recaptured not less than 11 local councils in Borno State alone. This is why it is possible for many of our people to return home again.

The Nigerian military has made it possible for many IDPs to return to their communities and opened up roads that were hitherto made too dangerous to travel on by the insurgents such that between 2015 and 2018 people do not need to cross-check before setting out on any journey within or outside the state.

Your Excellency, between April and July this year, the military also intensified its operations in Borno with the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a proud indigene of Borno, to the state and in the process, killed more than 1500 of the terrorists including 30 of their top commanders while also arresting more than 40 of their informants. This is also another fact too glaring to ignore.

The Nigerian military had this year also been able to ward off attacks in so many locations in the state including the latest attempt to penetrate Maiduguri, the state capital. 

The Peculiarity of the Borno Situation 

Much as these have been achieved through combat operations, Your Excellency must have observed that while the activities of the terrorists have been curtailed in other Northeastern states of Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi and to a large extent, Yobe, it has continued to worsen in Borno.

At first glance, this may appear to be so because of the proximity of Borno to Chad, but on a second look, this reason appears untenable as some of the states mentioned equally share large swathe of their borders with other Boko Haram infested countries. 

What makes the case of Borno peculiar is that there are certain factors that exacerbate and fuel the crisis. 

The Real Problem 

Your Excellency, after more than a year in office, you must have noticed that the Boko Haram issue is not religious as it was initially made to appear. 

The truth Sir is that there are people who are making money off these terrorist activities and there are top politicians from our state who for selfish interests, do not want the insurgency to end. 

The elites, elders and stakeholders from our state are perpetrating this violence and benefitting financially from it and that is why this group of people hardly condemn the atrocities committed by these terrorists. 

Sir, I’m sure you are well aware that our people know these terrorists but have for reasons best known to them, failed to take the necessary actions against them.

Other factors militating against the successful clean up of terrorism in our state include the thriving but illegal smuggling along Bama axis, the turf war at the fishing business in Baga and other places and due to high wired politics. 

Need for Change in Strategy 

Your Excellency, I make bold to say that if we desire to see the end of this insurrection as quickly possible, then you must change your strategy due to the following reasons.

As you must have noticed, the majority of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists are our Kanuri brothers and sons.

Due to that, I will suggest here Sir that you should initiate a stakeholders’ dialogue and invite our Kanuri elders, elites and top government officials to discuss frankly among ourselves and find ways of getting the message across to these youths.

I’m sure Sir, that once this is done, the youths will see our seriousness and sincerity in ending the crisis and would have no problems withdrawing from their turfs.

Secondly and very important Sir, you must sustain your earlier efforts of cooperating with the military and desist from castigating Mr President which you started in the early days of your administration and discontinue this attitude of portraying them as adversaries. 

Your Excellency, you must as a leader restrain yourself from impulsive outbursts as every word you say is potent and has far-reaching implications.

Let me in conclusion, Sir, remind you that the Boko Haram conflict is in its 11th year now and has claimed the lives of several thousands of people, displaced more than 2.3 million and has left at least 7.7 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and created deep social and psychological wounds which cannot be allowed to continue. 

It is my belief and that of many indigenes of Borno, that given your track record, these measures are not beyond you to take to achieve complete elimination of terrorists and insurgency activities in our state and Nigeria as a whole. 

I thank you and trust this will get your desired attention. 

May Allah guide you on the right path.


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