North-East should get presidency if Buhari isn’t running – Ex-dep gov Dibal
Alhaji Adamu Yuguda Dibal was deputy governor of Borno State during the tenure of Ali Modu Sheriff between 2003 and 2011. In this interview, he bares his mind on Borno politics, Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast and the performance of Governor Kashim
Daily Trust: As a former deputy governor during the tenure of Ali Modu Sheriff, to what extent would you say the rift between him and the current governor has impacted on the development of Borno State?
The question of rift between the former governor and the current one is not an issue now because the state has outgrown that. In other words, there were issues, but the state is in the hands of God and Governor Kashim Shettima has gone beyond that level and is faring very well. Recall that Sheriff left the state to the federal level and played some politics on the platform of the PDP. Since then, God Almighty has been using the current governor to provide the needed leadership for the state. After he left, there has been peace in Borno, and the state is now a one-party state. We do not have any other party in Borno apart from the APC as we speak.
DT: Are you saying the rift between them has not caused any form of setback for the state?
I thank God that we have President Muhammadu Buhari at the federal level and Governor Shettima in charge in Borno State. The first four years were very challenging, no doubt about that. That was when the challenges of security, among others, were at their peak under a different government at the national level - a government that was trying to disown us. There was no help or intervention from the federal government to the state. Rather, things were being done to undermine the efforts of the governor. More so, in those days, we used to have bombing incidents all over the place. As you may be aware, the Boko Haram sect was in charge of 20 to 21 local governments in Borno State. That tells you that more than half of the LGAs were in the hands of the terrorists. Most of them were inaccessible. Had the national government at that time supported Shettima, I am sure he would have had to face the challenges squarely and it wouldn’t have gone bad the way it went. But they turned it into politics. Thank God, we were able to square it with them in 2015 and we drove them away. The APC produced all the three senators and all the members of the House of Representatives, including 28 members in the Borno State House of Assembly. Yes, there was some setback at the time, there were some rift, but God has taken charge, and has given Governor Shettima the wisdom and strength with which to move the state forward. There was a time this rumour of trying to remove him (Shettima) and to plant a sole administrator was making the rounds, but God took charge and saw us through. So, we thank Almighty Allah for giving us Governor Shettima, for restoring security and the leadership being provided for us.
It is now left for students of history to come and read about what happened between 2011 and 2015. Right now, Borno is one of the few APC states that are without any rift, there is no faction, no division. We are a full APC state with Governor Shettima as the leader.
DT: Having served as deputy under Sheriff, what is your take about insinuations that he was instrumental to the emergence of the Boko Haram sect?
I was deputy governor from 2003 to 2011, and I think, by and large, I am in the picture of all that happened. The issue of Boko Haran has nothing to do with politics. We inherited part of it. The problem is that there were some aspects of the issue that were neglected at the initial stage, and that gave room for Boko Haram to thrive. They were having a field day, and nobody cared. They started from a small group, grew large and gained ground. Boko Haram is an imported segment of Al Qaeda. They broke out from Nigeria though and have gone beyond Nigeria to become a global issue. Be that as it may, now that President Buhari has forged seamless collaboration among the various security agencies who now work together as one in the area, things have improved tremendously. Though we still experience pockets of attempts at attacking, especially in the suburbs by the terrorists, we thank God for what is happening.
DT: There have been agitations from different quarters in the country. But the North has remained calm. What do you think is responsible for this?
Well, one good thing that you cannot take away from the North is the fact that no matter your ego, you have somebody to urge you to leave what you are doing. No matter who you are in the North, you belong to a family. There is no way you can go solo. We thank God that the current political leadership we have in the North is very responsible, and that is because we have collaboration with our elders and all stakeholders. All of this makes it possible, but above all, God has been in charge. I know that at a time, an ultimatum was given, but Governor Shettima, who is the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, took charge by inviting stakeholders to a roundtable discussion, including elders and traditional rulers and the ultimatum was withdrawn. That shows the leadership being provided by Governor Shettima is not only being felt in Borno, but also beyond. I am sure Mr President is happy about that.
I think it is not out of place to say that the leadership being provided by Governor Shettima is worthy of emulation by other governors so that peace can reign across board. We know that some of his colleagues came to see him when the issue of IPOB was very serious, but they seem not to have come up at the appropriate time. So, like I said, no matter who you are in the North, you must listen to the voice of the North. The North is made up of different ethnic nationalities as in the South, it is not only about Hausa Fulani as people think, but we listen to one another. The teachings of our forefathers such as Sir Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa and Kashim Ibrahim are still in us. So, there is no way you can come up with an unnecessary agitation.
DT: Did Boko Haram not start as an agitation also?
The issue of Boko Haram has gone beyond that level. This is because they have international affiliation and have no price-tag. They are people that don’t want to accept that they belong to a particular country called Nigeria. They are undermining Nigeria and her neighbouring countries. Don’t forget that Borno is the only state in Nigeria which borders four other countries including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and all those countries have been politically unstable so to say. So, Boko Haram took advantage of the porous borders with such countries to perpetrate their evil.
DT: There have been some political permutations from the Northeast in recent times that, should President Buhari decline going for second term in 2019, the presidency should go to the region. What is your take on that?
We are praying and we will continue to pray for the health of Mr President. We can see that he is improving every day and we give glory to Almighty Allah. 2019 is still far off. Our major challenge now is how to rebuild the entire Northeast and resettle the IDPs in their respective homes. That is the focus for now. Once that is achieved and 2019 comes, and Mr President looks at his health and says I can make it, then so be it. But all that is in the hands of God. And if at that time, he says otherwise and would want to go and rest and be a kingmaker, then the Northeast can be considered.
DT: Should that be the case, who would you recommend?
With the kind of leadership being provided by our governor, even in the face of daunting challenges and limitations, I am sure he would be recommended by many. The leadership of Shettima has been commended by people, not only in the APC, but across parties. I know that the current government under President Buhari is working on three major pillars: security, corruption and economy. That is exactly what is being replicated in Borno and indeed the entire Northeast by Governor Shettima. Honestly, I have no doubt that he has the qualities to give the entire country a befitting leadership. I know there are other people in the North who are equally capable of doing it, but we believe that Shettima is a good material who can deliver.
Alhaji Adamu Yuguda Dibal