Friday, September 25 2020, marked a third attempt by suspected Boko Haram insurgents to kill Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum through an ambush in Baga town. The attack reportedly claimed the lives of eight policemen and three soldiers. Weeks after crying out for being shot at by gunmen on his way to visit Internally Displaced Persons with relief materials, governor Zulum was attacked again by terrorists near the town of Baga in Borno.
The Nigerian Tribune reports that Zulum escaped death after his convoy was ambushed on Friday, September 25, by Jihadist insurgents loyal to the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group. With sophisticated weapons, the militants opened fire at the convoy close to the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force consisting of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
In the attack, not less than 15 security operatives were killed. Sources claim that Zulum was on an assessment tour of Baga in preparation for the return of IDPs who left the town due to the raid by jihadists back in 2014. A few months ago, it was reported that at least five persons including three policemen were killed in Borno when the governor was on his way to some internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the northern part of the state. “The governor went to Kukawa, and on his way to Baga, his convoy was attacked. Nobody was injured,” the source was quoted to have said.
Borno state commissioner for information, Baba Kura Abba Jato spoke briefly on Wednesday at the launching of Lagos studio of Kennis 104.1fm where he revealed why the insurgents have continued to attack the governor and how he has managed to turn the state around despite the enormous challenges he is faced with.
City People’s DAMILARE SALAMI 08155134152 brings you an excerpt from the talk, enjoy.
“First and foremost, Zulum is a professor of Agric Engineering. Before he became the governor, he was the commissioner for reconciliation, reconstruction and resettlement so he was all over the state. In fact there was a time he lived in Bama which was one of the first places that was captured by the caliphate. It is the second headquarters after Gwoza. He stayed in that town for 180 days and kept changing rooms and places where they lived because the insurgents were coming virtually every day. He was there to rebuild Bama, he said this is an assignment that was given to me and I have to carry it out even if it will take me to die, then, it will be a honorable death. Most Kanuris have that believe if they die for a course they believe in, they believe that they are not dead. That’s why they have been able to spread all through Kanem Borno Empire, Libya, Nile Valley and even Chad.
“The second thing is that he also has a programme that looks at his shortcomings. Some of those things that needs to be done will be itemized and looked into, in this programme for execution. And when he was to select his cabinet members, he made sure that his cabinet had about 85 percent of non-politicians. We have 16 engineers in that team and it is not difficult for them to come up with a project and with little or minimal cost because they have no political ties.
“Thirdly, he wants to be at the forefront. If he is to distribute palliatives for example, this is what we do every month; in every local government in Borno State, between 15, 000 and 20, 000 households are given palliatives on a monthly basis and a card is going to be distributed the day the before the palliatives will be shared. And because it’s done on a monthly basis, nobody wants to cheat, that is hands-on management.
“In addition to that also, at the end of every two or three months, every commissioner must present what he has done in his ministry and then the exco meeting is a must, you don’t have any reason not to attend unless you are representing the state in an assignment or there is a very serious problem that will make you not to attend, and everyone must contribute. The fact that you are the information commissioner does not mean that you will not contribute to discussions about agriculture if you have a useful information. That is why we have been able to execute 120 projects in 100 days with the little that we have. After one year, we have 326 practically completed projects. I will show you the pictures of the type of schools that we have built in the state. All the primary and secondary schools we have built in Borno are three storey buildings, and the places are well lush with interlocks and grasses. Each class must have an air conditioner with three sources of electricity; solar, a stand-by generator and our almighty PHCN. We also have functional teaching aides and when we went into lockdown, it was not a problem for us because all radio and TV stations could hook up to any school. There is what we call Kian technology it was introduced by an Indian company, about 1000 teachers were trained so every single subject that is taught in primary and secondary school is loaded into that system. Sometimes you don’t need a teacher to appear in the classroom, the teacher will stay in his house, log on to his laptop and then communicate with his students. That Kian technology has almost all the subjects and those subjects are well crafted and then tailored to suite our own house.
“For instance in in terms of agriculture, we trained about 1000 people on irrigation farming like drip irrigation, vertical irrigation, horizontal irrigation and then pivot irrigation. The pivot irrigation (sometimes called central pivot irrigation), also called water-wheel and circle irrigation, is a method of crop irrigation in which equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers. This is why there is nothing that doesn’t grow in Borno despite the weather. Like the stage two of the Chad basin, what we did because of that problem was that 20,000 hectares was seeded to produce rice, produce maize, guinea corn and millets but you wonder how people can go to the farm because of this problem. So, the governor came up with what we called farm merchants in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Defence who are specially trained farmers. They were given fast-moving vehicles and communication devices that can talk to each other at whatever angle, whether or not there is GSM service. These farmers are also selected based on households because we cannot sustain feeding all the people who are in this problem on a monthly basis, they have to produce the food that will be bought by the government and subsequently distributed into the areas where farming activities is slow in the basin.
There are obvious security challenges that the governor is faced with as the leader of the state. How does he cope with these challenges, Baba Kura has this to say… that is why he is pushing hard to ensure that people are returned to those locations. Whilst there is no human activity, you have seeded that very place to the insurgents. That’s why he was attacked three times in the course of resettling people at Baga. Because Baga is one of the most vibrant and economic nerve center of Borno State, the fish that is produced in the Chad Basin is not only consumed in Nigeria but also in almost the West African region, they are the largest producer of rice, wheat and maize. So if you don’t allow these people to get back to that place, most of them are rich, they are not poor and they don’t work for the government. Their kids will go to school, get university degrees but they will say they can’t sit in the office to be collecting handouts, so they go to their farms. One small farm can get you 50kg of rice and if you have 1000 of it from your farm, it is more than enough for you to eat, get money, buy the vehicle that you want to cruise. However, they don’t even need all that because they don’t like it.
That is why he has to ensure that people are returned to Baga and Koka and he really succeeded. Even at the risk of being attacked three times, he was able to take them there. What he now does is that if you have a house and your house is down, the government will provide you with building materials and some money for you to build your house to your taste. And in addition to that, in every local government area where there is destruction, 1000 housing units are being built completely by the state government. We have resettled Kauri along Bama road, we have resettled Alanjiri along Ikwa road, we have resettled Nimankara in Gwaza local government, Ngwoshe, and the next area the government is now concentrating on is to resettle is the Abudanfuti’s border with Niger Republic and then Matche where you have the largest agricultural scheme in Nigeria, the Chad basin and south irrigation scheme. And in that place, you also have an electricity generating plant that can produce 30 megawatts of electricity which is more than enough to take care of the entire Borno State and its environs.
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