The Media Aide to Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Mr Isa Gusau, has advised the Federal Government of Nigeria to involve people in the Borno communities, the Civilian JTF and the State Government in its activities if indeed it wants to solve the problem of Boko Haram.
“You cannot claim to address a problem in somebody’s state without carrying that person along, you will end up at nothing, that is the truth of the matter.”
He made this statement on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, while explaining that negotiations with the terrorist group should have been done with stakeholders like the Borno Elders and others who have had closer confrontations with the sect.
Although he admitted that the Civilian JTF couldn’t have been successful without the military due to their superior firepower, he maintained that the JTF have the edge over the military because “they know these people, they lived among us”.
Gusau also aligned with a statement credited to the Borno Elders who had been reported in the newspapers to have said that the Federal Government was dealing with bogus Boko Haram operatives in its negotiations.
“The Boko Haram members, like we have always known, they don’t even adopt common Islamic names. They want to go for names that are a bit sophisticated with a lot of Arabic background.
“Then all of a sudden there was somebody called ‘Danladi’ and this is not even a conventional Muslim name. Its a name attached to a date of birth, it is just like a jargon, in my opinion. So it is very doubtful for anybody to hear the name Danladi and say this guy is a Boko Haram member.”
He also cited an interview granted by the said Boko Haram member to an Abuja based FM station where he was “recognising the government of the day, saying ‘we are coming out, this is our government’.
“Boko Haram does not recognise constitutional authority, it does not recognise the Nigerian Government. The guy was also admitting the name Boko Haram (when) members of this sect hate to be called Boko Haram.”
He maintained that the Federal Government should have engaged in wider consultations for its resolution moves to be successful.
Ali Modu Sheriff’s Role
Mr Gusau was asked if there had been any consultation between the current Borno Government and the former governor, Ali Modu Sheriff.
“The former governor, I don’t think, has shown any serious concern about the Boko Haram issue, to the best of my knowledge.
“He said, when he granted an interview to the Voice of America, that there was a lot he was doing underground but from what I could tell, I have never heard him coming out publicly to talk about this until in recent times.”
In response to suggestion that the State Government could have invited him, Mr Gusau said, “Until now that he went to the PDP, he doesn’t need any invitation from the governor. The governor was his own boy.
“They were all in the ANPP, to the APC together. He doesn’t need any invitation from Governor Kashim Shettima to provide anything.”
On allegations against the former Governor of being a supporter of the Boko Haram sect, Gusau refused to make comments, owning to the fact that the matter was in court.
He recalled that the former governor had threatened to sue the Australian negotiator who accused him of being the sect’s sponsor and the matter was still pending.
Boko Haram Motivation
Gusau believes that the Boko Haram sect members are more motivated by their extreme religious beliefs.
Providing his interpretation of the Islamic belief about paradise, in connection with the activities of the Boko Haram sect, he posited that for the average Boko Haram suicide bomber, their act of terror is “a win-win situation”.
He, however, admitted the existence of economic motivation as there were people who are economically driven to be in the group. “This is why the Borno State Government has always developed an economic approach to it,” he said.
Explaining the rising strength of the sect despite the government’s approach, he added that there had been cases where people were forced to be part of the group and they would have to continue to do their bidding because they (the people) want to survive.
“These guys are good in their act…there is no doubt about it. Guerilla warfare is always a very difficult war. They know the act of getting people, seizing them and forcing them to do certain things and people want to survive.
“The reason why they are increasing is because they capture a lot of people. If it were for economic reasons, I think that has been, to a large extent, made unpopular in Borno State.”
Mr Gusau reiterated that the goal of insurgents is to suspend constitutional democracy and replace it with their own doctrines of violence, so Nigeria has an obligation “to ensure that elections take place in every part of the country”.
He said that if elections are suspended in any part of the country because of Boko Haram, it would amount to encouraging them, but added that this does not mean that the election in 2015 is more important than the life of any Nigerian.
Therefore, it remained a major task for the Federal Government to ensure that constitutional democracy is not hampered by terrorism and at the same time an enabling environment is created to ensure the lives of the people are protected.
The advise comes as the Borno State Governor has just been endorsed to contest for a second term in office.
He said that the Governor remained optimistic that there would be elections in Borno State in 2015, he would be standing for re-election and he would emerge victorious.
Finding Chibok Girls
Gusau restated the Borno State Government’s optimism towards the release of the abducted girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok.
Although he could not provide an update on the efforts to secure their release as he said that the Federal Government was in the better position to do this, he said that the Borno State Government had focused on the 57 girls that escaped.
“Government has done so much in rehabilitating them. There was a rehabilitation programme that was organised by Governor Kashim Shettima in June this year. After rehabilitation, schools have been identified for them in September and 36 of them so far have been sent to international schools. The Borno State Government is spending over 200million naira on that.
“We are very optimistic. Only a fool will completely rule out the recovery of a child,” he said.