Before the 2011 general election, the activities of Boko Haram in the state had become much intense. Once he emerged the governorship candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2011, shortly before the election, he granted an interview to Daily Sun, where he among other things appealed to the insurgents to give him a chance “to prove that leadership under our constitutional democracy can be humane and people-oriented.”
He believed that “poverty and unemployment” were the root causes of the insecurity in the state, insisting that “except we provide jobs for our youths, more young men will see Boko Haram as alternative to living because idleness is a devil’s workshop.”
Explaining his mission and vision for the state at the time, the governor said “my main focus will be on comprehensive human capacity development. We intend to tackle the issue of unemployment basically through a grassroots socio-economic empowerment programme. The centrepiece of the programme will be agriculture and all other development initiatives will revolve round it. Insha-Allah, we are going to empower several farm families over a period of eight years. The programme will be anchored on 3 tripods. We are going to enhance the capacities of the Vocational and Trade Training Centres spread across the state and build new ones. This will provide us with the avenue to train our agro-based technicians such as mechanics, tractor drivers etc. Secondly, farming skills acquisition centres will be established in every LGA, where modern farming skills, specific to the agronomic circumstances of every locality will be taught. We ultimately aim at increase in yield; the government will buy into the 3R concept of the new management of the CBDA and bring about a quantum leap in the fortunes of our society.
“To be honest, a Borno man has no business with poverty. The total area of jurisdiction of the Chad basin covers 136,000 Sq km, which is about 15 percent of the land area of the country, a chunk of it in Borno State. The South Chad Irrigation Project, for instance, covers an area of 67,000 ha, out of which, less than 10,000 ha is currently utilised. The Baga Polder Project has the capacity for 20,000 ha and is equally grossly underutilised. The Gora Minor Irrigation Project is also suffering the same fate. We are going to complete the Biu Dam Project, which is also capable of providing irrigation facilities for at least 5000 farm families.”
On the prevailing insecurity at the time, the governor said “Yes, we have security challenges in Borno like we have in Jos, Bauchi, the Niger Delta and even the FCT, but we identify that there are threats and believe me firm measures are being taken and I know that Insha Allah before May 29, 2011 when there will be transition, the threats will be overcome. You see, security strategies are not for public consumption per se, because it will be like making offenders to prepare and develop ways of beating the security strategies.”
His passion for primary education
For those who may not know, Shettima, had long before he won his first election in 2011, nursed the ambition of revolutionalising primary education in the state.
“Primary education is the constitutional responsibility of the councils but I see it as the responsibility of the governor to ensure there is solid basic education not only at the secondary level which is the state government’s responsibility by law but also at the primary level because secondary schools rely on the primary schools for sound education for pupils. Some of our strategies will be to enhance the attractiveness of primary education and boost performance reward system. The same should apply to secondary schools. The idea is to identify and reward brilliant pupils so as to deepen academic competition. At the tertiary levels, we will be dealing with adults, so the emphases will be on using psychological means to raise their readiness to learn and supervising their tutors, taking them to task, rewarding them and sanctioning defaulters.”