Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state, has disclosed that his administration has been able to facilitate the return of about 100,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their ancestral homes. This is even as he declared that a political solution would be required to end what he called “madness,” afflicting the state.
Zulum spoke to State House Correspondents after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday to brief him on the current security situation in the state.
According to him, the kinetic measures currently being applied would not be enough to solve the security problems. Zulum said the youth of the state must be empowered by all levels of government to be able to live a meaningful life.
He called for the creation of jobs for the youth and the provision of enabling environment for citizens to return to their homes to resume their normal lives.
The governor urged EndSARS protesters to be careful, recalling how Boko Haram insurgency started from the youths of the region protesting the use of helmets on motorcycle before it was hijacked by terrorists.
Speaking on the purpose of his visit, Zulum said: “I’m glad to inform Nigerians that there is gradual return of peace to the northeast region particularly in Borno State. Government has started resettlement of people to their ancestral homes. We have received tremendous support from the Nigerian military, the paramilitary, Ministry of Finance, Humanitarian Affairs and its agencies especially NEMA, North East Development Commission and others.
The gradual return of people to their respective localities is a symbol of peace, so far so good we are doing well, we need continuous support from the Nigerian military, we need sustainable support to ensure that this madness is brought to an end.”
Asked what exactly will it take to end what he called “this madness”, the governor said: “The kinetic measures only will not solve the problem, there must be certain political solutions. Among the political solutions are the issues of supporting the Nigerian youths with means of earning their livelihood. As I have earlier said, there is need for us to address the root causes of the problem. One of the greatest root causes of the insurgency is poverty. So government at all levels must provide job opportunities to the youths, enabling environment for the poor to have access to their farmlands. That is what I have been advocating since I assumed the mantle of leadership as governor of Borno State. We want to ensure people return to their communities, people have access to their farmlands, to their livestock farms, to their aquaculture farms. I think this is the only solution, military solution alone will never solve the problem.”
Asked about the president’s response, his reaction to EndSARS protests and panels that have been set up, he said: “The issue of transparency, good governance are very important. Whatever we are doing in Borno State, we are ensuring that the entire public are well involved. Fortunately, Borno State received the palliatives early enough and within two weeks of receiving them we had distributed to the deserving ones.
“On the issue of EndSARS, I am calling on all Nigerians especially the youths to be very careful. The whole Boko Haram saga started as a result of the protest by some youths in Maiduguri against the use of helmet by motorcycle riders, you have seen the situation now. Over one million people have been displaced and the most affected population are the vulnerable, the youths. Some of those that led the protests have left Borno State, they are either staying in Abuja or Lagos or abroad. We have to be very careful.”
On how many IDPs have been successfully resettled, Zulum said: “Within the last one year, we have returned 100,000 IDPs to their ancestral homes. The President was happy and has given his commitment to support the entire northeastern region and in particular the government of Borno state in ensuring permanent peace reign in the region. Most importantly we must comment his efforts.
“Let me also use this opportunity to condemn police brutality in other parts of the nation, the killings at Lekki Tollgate. But I must also condemn the excesses of some of our Nigerian youths in taking the laws into their hands by destroying some of our infrastructures in attempt to support the legitimate demands of EndSARS protesters.”