Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima
By Chuks Okocha, Ahamefula Ogbu, Senator Iroegbu and John Shiklam
Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, Thursday raised the alarm over the state of insecurity in the north, saying the region faces a possible extinction within five years if urgent steps were not taken by the leaders to address the Boko Haram challenge in the area.
He was speaking at the Government House, Maiduguri, when some national officers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) visited him to sympathise with the state over the attacks on North-eastern states by the sect.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo also said Thursday that the Federal Government was ready to dialogue with militants, a position also canvassed by Governor Ibrahim Dankwabbo of Gombe, who specifically mentioned Boko Haram.
Shettima told the team led by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha: “For now, we have to do it in our enlightened self-interest, because nobody would stay in Northern Nigeria, believe me, in the next five years! Believe me, nobody!! None of us here is prepared to.”
Narrating the encounters some his relatives had with some hoodlums, the governor said: “Somebody was telling me that he went to greet the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll... when he came out, the area boys came and knocked on his car and were asking for money. If you refuse to give them, they will scratch your car.
“Another friend was telling me that his wife and driver were driving in his Prado SUV in Kano. Some boys came and broke the windscreen and said, ‘You bastards, you are enjoying the comfort of an air conditioned car and we are suffering!’ So, you can see the bottom line is poverty."
The team also paid a similar visit to Dankwambo, who told them that following the increasing attacks, his administration was ready to dialogue with the sect for the sake of peace in the country.
Dankwambo said it would be imperative to dialogue with Boko Haram to guarantee peace and development of the state and the zone.
“A lot of lives were lost which are irreplaceable, property was destroyed and many more challenges. I want to thank you on behalf of the good people of Gombe State for the concern and to assure our party, the PDP, that we will do everything possible to shun violence; we will do everything possible to tolerate dialogue and call on whoever is ready to dialogue with us in line with the principle of PDP, to bridge the gap of misunderstanding, so that there will be peace, there will be progress and there will be development.
“I also want to assure you that we have taken measures to ensure that some of the victims that lost their property are supported, but those who lost their lives, it is most unfortunate, lives are irreplaceable. But those who lost their property we have taken some remedial actions to ensure that they didn’t lose, completely," he said.
Mustapha, in his response, restated the call for dialogue with the sect to find a lasting solution to the violence threatening peace in the north.
In Kaduna State, the 33rd International Trade Fair which held between April 27 and May 6, suffered serious setback as corporate bodies, prospective investors and exhibitors stayed away from the event as a result of the security challenges in the city.
The fair was initially slated to hold in February, its traditional date, but was postponed following the series of bomb blasts that rocked the city within the period.
The fair came and went without the usual fanfare and bustling business and commercial activities at the Complex.
Only a few exhibitors and some corporate organisations were seen during the event which was deserted by residents including journalists for fear of bomb explosions.
Except for some few corporate organisations such as Unity Bank, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigerian Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC), and Dangote Group, many other major organisations which used to be major players at the fair were absent, especially the telecommunications companies.
Although the organisers, the Kaduna Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCIMA), took adequate security measures to ensure that the fair was hitch-free, it was learnt that many exhibitors had no confidence in the ability of the security agencies any more.
The Federal government Thursday waved an olive branch once more to all militant groups in the country to declare ceasefire and embrace dialogue instead of making the country look insecure before the comity of nations.
Sambo assured any group that embraces peace that the government was ready to enter into dialogue since even in wars, parties still resolve them on the round table.
He spoke at a symposium organised by Nasirul-Lahi-Faith Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) with theme, “Islam and Peaceful Co-existence in a Contemporary Multi Religious Society”.
“Islam is a religion of peace; it is a way of life. It cannot promote senseless killings and wanton destruction of property. I am not aware of any religion in the world that encourages unprovoked and relentless attacks on other people,” he said.
Also, the Minister of Defence, Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed, disclosed that the Federal Government was making fresh efforts to bring the Boko Haram to negotiating table through both traditional and official channels.
Mohammed gave the hint Thursday while receiving an Italian military delegation led by its Ambassador to Nigeria, Roberto Coleminem, in his office in Abuja.
“Government wants to listen to the group's grouses or concern because it is the duty of the government of Nigeria to attend to the concerns of every Nigerian,” he said.