The Coalition of Friends and Supporters of Buhari has described as absurd several attempts by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State and his aides to blackmail the Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents.
The group said the two instances where Zulum tried to ridicule the Nigerian military but turned out that he was wrong on his assumptions and was compelled to eat back his words are well documented.
It also recalled another recent instance where Borno Governor accused the military of abandoning their posts at Auno, where travellers were killed, only for him to find out that the military had not abandoned the travellers to their fate, but had only gone on another operation when the incident happened.
Audu Atumeyi, Director of Media of the coalition, in a statement on Thursday, said Zulum’s aides were following his footsteps to demonize the troops with disparaging comments, a development he described as “very uncharitable.”
The statement, therefore, called on the Borno State Governor to stop all the baseless allegations and collaborate with the military to find solutions to the problem of terrorism ravaging his state
His statement read below.
His histrionics done in full public glare, however, failed to elicit the kind of attention the Governor was craving for because of the way it was poorly stage managed.
But the Borno Governor it seems was not embarrassed enough with his failed attempts to ridicule the military, and has decided to hand over the task to his deputy, aides and his other appointees to carry on from where he had failed.
For instance, the Commissioner for Information in Borno State, Alhaji Babakura Jatau, came on national television weeks after his principal made the unsubstantiated allegations against the military, to allege that Nigerian troops are now involved in fishing business in Baga, Borno State and for that purpose have refused to let the war on insurgency end.
Before the commissioner crafted that allegation, the Deputy Governor of the state, Usman Kadafur, also acted his own part of the script by engaging in an unnecessary squabble with the military over the insistence of the Covid-19 team which he heads, to screen commuters at the point of entry into Maiduguri.
To give the allegation by the commissioner a modicum of integrity, a similar claim was planted in a national daily in the guise of a news story, to say that troops have abandoned the fight against insurgency to trade in fish.
Part of the report reads, “The real problem is that some top officers and troops have turned Baga into a cash crow by engaging in fish and livestock business. It is from the business that they are getting a lot of money.
“Baga produces 45% of the dry fish being consumed in Nigeria. It also has one of the robust fertile land in the country where tomatoes and vegetables are grown.
“Some of these officers have bought all the livestock in the area.
“Directly opposite the military barracks in Baga is a huge farmland which a top military officer admitted belongs to him.”
Why the allegations do not hold water
But as the discerning could see, this is the most asinine, callous and infantile allegation that anyone can make against the military.
It is disheartening that whilst the troops are in the trenches, having sleepless nights and giving their all to secure the country, some vested interests in the comfort and luxury of their homes should be concocting wicked tales against them while trying to demonize these patriots.
To imagine that these allegations would be coming from the Borno State Government however, is the height of insenstivity, ingratitude and wickedness, as no state in Nigeria has ever benefitted from the sacrifice of the Nigerian military like Borno.
Several times, the military has come to the aid of Borno State right from the 80s, when some Chadian soldiers killed some Nigerians on the border community with Chad; to the Maitatsine uprising when soldiers moved and liberated Bulumkutu, to the Col. Buba Marwa anti-crime operation which cleansed Borno of high calibre criminals to the ongoing operation to fight Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorism in the state.
While hundreds of soldiers and their families bear the marks of these sacrifices, what has the Borno State Government done in all these years to end the terrorism on citizens?
Apart from being unable to nip the violent group in the bud, a former governor of the state even appointed a known financier of the Boko Haram as a commissioner in his cabinet.
The terrorists were also paid N100 million said to be compensation for the kiling of their leader and an unreserved apology was tendered to them by the former governor.
The Boko Haram were also used by some politicians to eliminate the governorship flag bearer of the then ruling party in the state.
The Borno State Government was also the first to deride military operations against the terrorists when the then state governor said the Boko Haram were better equipped than the Nigerian military.
The current Governor who from all indications, craves publicity more than strategic planning has however decided to push the stake in the heart of the military with fiercer meanness than his predecessors hence most of his actions seem tailored towards achieving that.
The allegation about troops engaging in fishing business is totally untrue as no military top commander control their postings and therefore cannot afford the luxury of investing in ventures like fishing when they know not when they’ll be removed from such stations.
Secondly, only a foolish officer would abandon the task of fighting Boko Haram with all the inherent danger, and engage in buying and selling when he knows that going by the callousness of the Boko Haram members and their desperation to hit at Nigerian troops, they could spring surprises at any time if guards are lowered.
Thirdly, most of the officers and military men posted to these stations are from other battalions whose knowledge of the fishing terrain are technical but not to the extent of taking over the businesses of residents and indigenes.
There are for instance, said to be about 200 permanent and semi- permanent fishing communities in Baga town and over 40,000 fishermen on the Nigerian side of the Lake Chad which is shared by Nigeria, Chad, Niger republic and Cameroon.
How the military can take over the business of dealing in not less than seven fish species with over 40,000 participating interests who have been involved in it for years remains a puzzle.
The truth that Zulum is trying to hide
That Boko Haram activities has lingered only in Borno State while it has abated in other states should serve as the worst point of curiosity.
The simple answer is that while states like Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe and Bauchi have been serious about ending the insurgency the political leaders and elites in Borno State are not sincere.
The truth is that many politicians from Borno State do not want the insurgency to end because they are making money as the terrorists activities linger and it serves their political interests to sustain their nefarious activities.
The elites, elders and stakeholders in Borno are perpetrating the violence because they are benefitting from it and that is why they never condemn the atrocities commited by these terrorists.
These elites are also involved in big time smuggling across the border and take advantage of the absence of paramilitary forces to up their games.
Rather than the military, it is this group of people that engage in the fishing business in Baga where they have supplanted both the middlemen and wholesalers.
These are some of the factors that have made it difficult to stamp out terrorists activities from Borno State.
We, as well as other well meaning Nigerians therefore totally reject the attempts by the Borno State Government to ridicule the military.