Boko Haram members now multi-ethnic – Gov. Zukun

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Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has called for more military presence in areas exposed to insurgency while also disclosing that members of the Boko Haram insurgency are now from the various ethnic groups in the country.

He spoke with State House correspondents on Saturday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

To end the insurgency in his state and the entire North East, the governor called for urgent address of the factors boosting insurgency.

He said “One peculiar problem we have in Borno is that it shares borders with three countries – Republic of Niger, Republic of Chad as well as the Republic of Cameroon. You can understand these borders, this proximity to Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Libya. It is a sub-Saharan region, it is very difficult to man such areas.

Going back to the poverty index, you can recall that climatic situation in the region.

“We have three major climatic regions in Nigeria – the humid region, semia region as well as the areal region. Borno State is semia region, is an extreme region in northern Borno. Rainfall is usually less than 200 millimeter, crop can hardly do well without irrigation, you can understand what we mean. No rainfall means there is no employment. But by and large, the situation has been compounded for a long time because of lack of education. Education is also a veritable tool for fighting these insurgents.

“My predecessor has done well in terms of building more schools, recruiting more teachers but I think you are right that the entire problem about employment covers the entire country but because of the porosity of our borders among others, we have major problems in Borno State. Yes, Boko Haram started in our own place, yes I admit that most of them are from my tribe but I believe their composition now cuts across almost every ethnic group in Nigeria, most importantly including the expatriates.

“We have people from other countries that have joined them. I think that they are rebellious now and I think it is now a war economy, you can see them looting properties, carrying food items and what have you.

“I want to disabuse the minds of those saying it is religious, when they attacked Gubio they burnt down an Islamic school, they burnt down the house of an Islamic teacher, so that is all I have to tell you in a nutshell.” he said.

Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria
Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria

On his purpose to the Villa, he said he came to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the attacks in Gubio and Magumeri local government areas, and other issues.

Asked what he was doing to ensure normalcy is restored in his state, he said “Well, the President has assured the government and people of Borno State that he will do everything possible to ensure that properties, lives and citizens of the state are protected.

“On my own part as the governor, first of all I wish to call on the people of Borno State to be patient while we try to strengthen the civilian JTF as well as supplement the efforts of the Nigerian military as well as the Nigerian police.

“By and large, we must also address the root causes of the Boko Haram insurgency which is not limited to endemic poverty, pervasive illiteracy, financial and economic hardship, unemployment, environmental degradation, drug abuse among others.

“We must ensure our youths are employed. We shall support the Nigerian police and the Nigerian military, most importantly the gallant civilian JTF and the hunters to ensure that the remnants of Boko Haram are eliminated”

Asked why it was easy for the militants to operate in the latest attacks, he said “Well, the most important thing is that there is ongoing military strategy, according to the military authorities, what they called “Establishment of super camps.” That entails that all other smaller units in various villages and towns, shall be collapsed to form part of the super camps in some critical major local government areas.

“In our thinking as laymen not as military personnel, we thought this decision is not wise. We must ensure there is military presence in all the locations. We are very much aware of their numerical strength but nonetheless, their absence can create serious vacuum and that has informed the recent attacks.

“However, I heard that the military is now trying to re-establish the military formations in those areas and that they should not form part of the super camps,” he said.

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