MAIDUGURI, North-East, Nigeria – Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Wednesday led three other governors on empathy and solidarity visit to Governor Zulum over last weekend Boko Haram attacks on his convoy in Baga at the shores of Lake Chad, killing over 10 policemen and volunteers.
Fayemi revealed that at many occasions, some Governors had expressed their concerns over Zulum’s safety and movements in tough terrains, but at all times he would reply; “what about my people?”
Other Governors in Fayemi’s entourage includes; Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, and Vice Chairman Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF); Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Chairman APC’s Progressive Governors Forum; and Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Chairman of NGF.
According to Fayemi, “This is not the first time you (Zulum) have been attacked, but you always said to me and to a lot of our colleagues that it is God that will protect. Even when we say to you, Prof, you have to be careful, you have to be vigilant, you have to protect yourself, you always reply by saying, what about the people? It is my duty, the primary responsibility I have as Governor is the security and welfare of our people and that is what you have been discharging.
“Your Excellency, we your brothers are here on behalf of all the 35 Governors of the Nigerian State. This delegation was carefully put together inspite of your own reluctance to let us come. We have been on this for two days, you said no, we should not come all the way here to commiserate.
“But we felt we were duty bound to be here in solidarity and in commiseration, and to let you know that you are not alone on this committed struggle to end insurgency in Borno State, and to stop the carnage that is daily afflicting our people here.”
The Ekiti Governor also said Professor Zulum, has as part of his obligation, been quite frank in high level engagements including with President Muhammadu Buhari over the problems facing his state.
“Not long ago, you and I had a meeting with Mr. President on these issues. You were very frank with Mr President about what is going on here, the difficulty that the military is experiencing, and the challenges that your people have in returning back to their communities.
“Your determination to ensure that the local population is returned so that they go back to their farmlands, in order to return to their normal lives.
“In spite of all your efforts, inspite of the work you continue to do, it is obvious that we still have a lot to do as a country. As your brothers, we shall not relent in also expressing to the authorities, the importance of nipping this in the bud so that calm and peace return to Borno and this can serve as a vehicle for peace and development in the rest of our country. That is what has brought us.
“It is to let you know that you are not alone, it is to commiserate with the families of the people who have unfortunately lost their lives in the line of duty. And it is to render our support, our country needs to do more,” Fayemi said.
He noted that all Governors consider the insecurity in Borno as a collective problem which should be addressed with renewed vigour and commitment.
“We do not see this issue of Borno as an isolated challenge, because if we do not tame the tide of the problem that we are seeing here, it will inexorably consume our entire country.
“That’s why we must associate with you, demonstrate solidarity and show concern so that not just at our own level but the leadership in the entire country that is already doing a lot to confront this challenge, will also do more,” he added.
Responding, Governor Zulum expressed gratitude to the Nigerian Governors Forum represented by his four colleagues for the empathy demonstrated towards the people of Borno.
He highlighted that Borno was facing serious humanitarian issues which was of great concern to him.
He noted that the solution lies with supporting a dignified return of willing IDPs to safe and rebuilt communities where they can return to making livelihoods.
“Continuous dependance on food aid from donors, was no longer sustainable given the huge population of those in need.
“Also, the Borno Government in its policy does not force any displaced to return to communities,” he said.