Focus on Africa: Nigeria governor in impassioned plea as Boko Haram regroups
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Borno State Governor Kashim Ibrahim Shettima has broken down in tears at State House Abuja while briefing President Muhammadu Buhari about worsening security conditions in the northeastern region.
Vanguard reports that at the meeting, Shettima, who was accompanied to Aso Rock by a large bipartisan delegation of Borno State elders and religious leaders, pleaded with Buhari not to allow Boko Haram insurgents to reverse successes achieved by the army and the people.
The Borno State Governor’s appeal came on the same day that the jihadists launched a daring attack on Kukawa, one of the 20 administrative districts where they set up local secretariats between 2013 and 2014.
Several Nigerian newspapers also carried reports that the Islamist group had raided the village of Auno, about 20km from the state capital Maiduguri, along the strategic Damaturu-Maiduguri highway.
Tears of Frustration
Sony Daniel, Vanguard’s regional correspondent for the northern region, says Governor Shettima’s tears expressed the frustration felt by the Borno people, regarded by some Nigerians as the problem rather than the victims.
According to the veteran journalist, the large delegation of Bono State dignitaries presented a 10-point plan to Buhari, which they believe will prove their commitment to peace and boost the war effort against the insurgents.
“We are here because we knew you would warmly welcome us without suspicion or contempt," Shettima told the President.
The Vanguard correspondent in the war-ravaged northeast told RFI that the role of 20,000 youth volunteers recruited and funded by Shettima to spear head his civilian Joint Task Force was likely discussed during the summit.
He claims that while the military has demonstrated reluctance in working with the civilian vigilante group, the young men and women have been very good at gathering local intelligence and identifying Boko Haram members, despite their efforts to conceal themselves.
Daniel says it would be a big mistake to do away with them because they understand the local environment more than any other.
The presence of National Security adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, by President Muhammadu Buhari's side may have helped in a giving a renewed sense of urgency to the high-level audience, according to Daniel.
Hunger and misery
Tens of thousands of Nigerians have been killed since the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009. The UN High Commission for refugees has documented more than 2 million people displaced by the conflict, with more than seven million at risk of starvation.