- Maiduguri nearly fell to Boko Haram -Shettima
From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
THE military has opened a major highway in Borno State which was closed for over two years in the wake of Boko Haram attacks.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, who opened the Maiduguri- Gamboru Road yesterday, said security was vital to national development and sustenance of democracy. “I assured you, when I came in as army chief, that we will first clear Boko Haram from Dikwa and Mafa and, subsequently, open the road which is very important to the Nigerian economy,” he said.
Buratai said terrorists understand the importance of the road as a major link with some African countries including Cameroon, Niger, Sudan and Central African Republic.
On his part, Governor Kashim Shettima said Borno is most strategically located of all states in Nigeria and added that the economy of the state has also impacted on the economy of other states in Nigeria, including Kano, Lagos, Onitsha in Anambra.
He said the Maiduguri- Gamboru/Ngala highway records the highest economic activities of the state as goods are transported from different parts of the countries to other African nations through the 235 kilometre road.
Meanwhile, Shettima recalled the deadliest attacks on Maiduguri by Boko Haram over a year ago.
He said the city would have fallen into the hands of the insurgents save for the intervention of the military, other security agencies and the Civilian JTF.
Shettima, who hosted Buratai and other top army officers for Eid-el-fitr celebration in Maiduguri Government House yesterday, said Boko Haram courted the capital late 2014 and early 2015 to prove to the world it was capable of capturing the state.
“Boko Haram would have taken over Maiduguri a year and half ago but for our gallant troops, who checkmated the lunatics,” he said.
He commended Buratai for helping residents celebrate the Eid-el-fitr without curfew or restriction of movement.
Shettima also said Borno people would be eternally indebted to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Buratai, adding that the coming of the new military chiefs changed the face of the war against insurgency.
In his response, Buratai said the presence of army commanders and senior officers from the army headquarters in Borno to mark the Eid-el-Fitr, away from their families shows that bringing insurgency to an end soon was dear to the heart of the leadership of the Nigerian Army.
“We’re here because bringing the war against Boko Haram insurgency to an end is dear to our hearts.
He also said their presence was also to celebrate the Nigerian Army Day.
He said the visit was to assess and consolidate on the successes recorded by the military in the counter-insurgency operations in the North East.