Borno State elders and leaders yesterday made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to save the state from the devastating activities of Boko Haram.
They also presented 10 demands to Buhari on the security situation in State.
Governor Kashim Shettima, who led the elders to Aso Rock said: “We came with some observation and 10 requests for urgent presidential intervention. These observations and requests are products of discussion in the aftermath of our extraordinary security meeting held one week ago.
“We didn’t rush to come after the meeting. We felt the need to travel to northern Borno, interact with displaced persons and the military so as to strengthen public confidence.
Meanwhile, the activities of the Islamist sect, overwhelmed the governor, as he broke down in the meeting.
In the governor’s team were traditional rulers, elders, national and state assembly members, local government chairmen, women groups, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and labour unions.
Others at the meeting included the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd), Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; acting Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar and the Director General of Department for State Services, Yussuf Bitchi.
He said: “Between 2013 and 2014, we witnessed the most daring and vicious evil of the Boko Haram, losing 20 local government areas.
“We rushed here because of the recent upsurge in the activities of the demented monster called Boko Haram especially in northern Borno senatorial district. We are here because since 2015, Mr. President, you were able to restore our hope.
“You have demonstrated empathy for Borno and the overriding commitment to ending the Boko Haram. This is why we rushed here on witnessing some setback.
“We are here because we thought that Allah will use you to fully reclaim Borno traditional glory of being the home of peace. We are here as a people who worked, prayed and waited for your Presidency in the firm and under the belief that with you as the Commander-In-Chief, Boko Haram will become history in Borno.
“Mr. President, from 2013 to date, more than 20,000 youth volunteers amongst them young women, have offered themselves in fighting Boko Haram under the Civilian JTF. These youths are sons and daughters of the same people of Borno accused of undermining the fight against Boko Haram.
“From 2013 to date, our administration has been solely responsible for funding hundreds of successful operations carried out by the Civilian JTF. We have been have been responsible for their recruitment after thorough vetting by the DSS.
“Most importantly, these Civilian JTF are good in gathering local intelligence and they are experts in identifying Boko Haram members no matter how they try to conceal themselves.
“From 2015 to 2018, the Nigerian military was able to liberate all the 20 local government areas hitherto under the Boko Haram. The military even took control of Boko Haram’s main operational base in the Sambisa forest.
“Borno State Government was able to rebuild more than 30,000 homes in various communities with all public facilities restored. Many of our hitherto displaced brothers and sisters, including some of our traditional rulers, voluntarily returned to rebuild communities in 14 local government areas including Bama.
“I will seek the understanding of the journalists by not making public any of our observations and 10 requests. They are matters of security which we hope to discuss with Mr. President in a close door.”
Responding, Buhari promised to raise the standard of the Nigerian Armed Forces and get the resources to encourage them to do better in the fight against insurgents in the North East.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said in a statement that Buhari also told the delegation that the collective safety and security of civilians would continue to remain paramount in his administration’s strategy to restore peace and stability in the region.
He said: “Having been a former Governor in the North East, a GOC in the region and very familiar with the terrain, I assure you that as Commander-in-Chief, I’ll raise the standard of the Nigerian Armed Forces and get the resources to encourage them to do better than what they are doing.”
President Buhari thanked Shettima for demonstrating leadership during these difficult times.
“I have an idea how much you are doing and I very much appreciate it. I’m sure that has earned you more respect from the people,” he said.
Other stakeholders from the State who made comments included Bishop Mohammed Naga, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno State, Dr Bulama Mali Gubio, Secretary, Borno Elders’ Forum, Maina Ma’aji Lawal, former Governor of the State, HRH Muhammad Masta II bn Al-Amin El-Kanemi, Emir of Dikwa, representing the Shehu of Borno, Senator representing Borno North, Abubakar Kyari and Senator Ali Ndume, Leader, Borno Caucus, National Assembly.