The tears of Kashim Shet­tima

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

The re­cent visit to the Pres­i­dent by a team of el­ders and com­mu­nity lead­ers of Borno state led by Gover­nor Kashim Shet­tima where a ten point de­mand was sub­mit­ted, as the search con­tin­ues for a way out of the Boko Haram in­sur­gency has, not sur­pris­ingly at all, elicited an­gry and some­what des­per­ate re­ac­tions from, quite ex­pect­edly, the same quar­ters of peo­ple whose in­com­pe­tence and ap­par­ent com­plic­ity in the mis­man­age­ment of the gains recorded ear­lier, is be­gin­ning to at­tract global con­dem­na­tion and calls around the world for a shakeup.

A num­ber of news­pa­pers have, in the last few days pub­lished what ap­peared to be opin­ion ar­ti­cles by sup­pos­edly con­cerned cit­i­zens who have picked holes in the sub­mis­sion made to the pres­i­dent and which they sought to twist and skew in or­der to, not just to ma­lign Gover­nor Kashim Shet­tima, but to pitch him against both the Pres­i­dent and the Nige­rian peo­ple. His of­fence, in the view of the pay­mas­ters of the hack writ­ers, was his bold­ness to host a sum­mit of all seg­ments of the Borno so­ci­ety in Maiduguri where far-reach­ing ob­ser­va­tions which ad­dressed the re­cent resur­gence of Boko Haram ac­tiv­i­ties as well as the ur­gent need to make sub­mis­sions to the Pres­i­dent were unan­i­mously and in­no­cently taken.

Al­though al­le­ga­tions have cease­lessly been made and fin­gers pointed at the di­rec­tion of these peo­ple on the grow­ing sus­pi­cion of the ex­is­tence of a car­tel that is feed­ing fat on the ‘’spoils’’ of war, none of the ten point de­mands ever made ref­er­ence to that to war­rant the dec­la­ra­tion of war on Shet­tima. So, why are they up in arms against gen­uine ef­forts to bring the war to an end? What ex­actly are the ar­gu­ments they put for­ward that would in­val­i­date the points raised in the de­mands?

What are the points any­way? It seems to me that the au­thors of the ar­ti­cles had worked hard to get a leak but ended up ei­ther not get­ting it al­to­gether or de­lib­er­ately twist­ing it to serve an ul­te­rior mo­tive of cash­ing in on the sit­u­a­tion to wage a war against the peo­ple of Borno state to cover up for their glar­ing in­com­pe­tence and their de­sire to swim out of the cur­rents of world­wide calls on the Pres­i­dent to re­jig the com­mand struc­ture at all lev­els of the war in or­der to ar­rest the man­i­fest slide back to the era of the in­sur­gents tak­ing land and keep­ing it. So much noise, in the ar­ti­cles, was ded­i­cated to Kashim Shet­tima’s shed­ding of tears while mak­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion to the Pres­i­dent as if that was the first time he ever got over­whelmed by the emo­tions and re­al­ity of the blood­bath, de­struc­tion and loss of lives as a re­sult of the ac­tiv­i­ties of the in­sur­gents.

At sev­eral places and events where the Boko Haram is­sue was ei­ther a sub­ject, or at in­stances where he was on con­do­lence vis­its to vic­tims of the count­less at­tacks on com­mu­ni­ties, the Gover­nor had been awed and bur­dened by the enor­mity of de­struc­tion that tears nat­u­rally flow freely from him. It is in his na­ture and it is un­for­tu­nate that in­stead of see­ing the pos­i­tives and the mes­sage it sends to those in power and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, the en­e­mies of Borno state de­cided to make jest and mock the sit­u­a­tion and dance on the graves of the thou­sands who lost their lives over the years. It is rather sad that while peo­ple of good­will are busy com­ing up with sug­ges­tions of how to end it, those who make cap­i­tal out of it are defin­ing it in Naira and Kobo even when lives of in­no­cent peo­ple are at stake.

Those who mis­in­ter­pret Shet­tima’s de­sire to have more of the young men and women who have sac­ri­ficed their lives as much as any soldier even with­out the arms to ef­fec­tively fight, to mean that the Gover­nor wished to es­tab­lish a pri­vate army have in­deed not worn their think­ing caps. Was it at the point when he was con­test­ing to be­come Gover­nor for a pos­si­ble eight year reign that he will need a pri­vate army or at the nadir of his quit­ting the of­fice when no army will be of any use to him? Gover­nor Shet­tima is a let­tered per­son and one of the egg heads in the group of state gov­er­nors in his­tory. To quote him as sug­gest­ing that only ser­vice­men of Borno state ori­gin should be de­ployed to fight the war on ter­ror­ism is to say the least very un­com­pli­men­tary to a man who has, since as­sum­ing of­fice, worked un­der the stress of hav­ing to deal with, al­most on a daily ba­sis, a fre­quency of bomb blasts, gun at­tacks, blood spilling and mind­less de­struc­tions on a large scale through­out his state.

The last as­sign­ment he per­formed be­fore he led the el­ders to the pres­i­dency was to visit Monguno where he spent a night try­ing to com­fort the thou­sands of dis­placed peo­ple who were forced out of Baga by the in­sur­gents days ear­lier. It is cu­ri­ous that the pos­i­tives and the courage of such visit were lost at a time ev­ery­one was wary of Boko Haram’s likely dare­dev­ilry at­tack from Baga, some forty kilo­me­ters away. The story of the Gover­nor risk­ing his life to be where many gov­er­nors dare not tread has been le­gion. It was on record that he of­fered much more help to the armed forces in the pros­e­cu­tion of the war and this had been ac­knowl­edged by al­most ev­ery ser­vice chief and ev­ery war com­man­der since he as­sumed of­fice.

It is dis­heart­en­ing that an in­no­cent act of sug­ges­tions on how to change the nar­ra­tives of the war in or­der to stop a reen­act­ment of the Jonathan era of los­ing grounds to the in­sur­gents has been mis­in­ter­preted, politi­cized and need­lessly mis­un­der­stood. It is more heart­break­ing that this cam­paign to re­duce it to pol­i­tics is com­ing from quar­ters that should be held ac­count­able for the mis­man­age­ment of the war.

Ahmed-BK, wrote this piece from Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.

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