Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State has noted that the dreaded Islamist sect, Boko Haram, are better armed and better motivated by their backers to continue to wreak havoc and unleash terror in the North East region than the Nigerian security forces.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents on Monday after meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on the latest spate of killings by the terrorist sect at Izge in Gwoza Local government on Saturday, Gov. Shettima said it was high time political leaders are held accountable to bring an end to the wanton destruction of lives and property.
According to him, the Northeastern part of the country was in a state of war and it was high time political leaders stepped up to the occasion before it becomes too late.
“Well, in a nutshell what we are being confronted with is that we are in a state of war. It is what I came to update Mr. President, the sooner we stop playing the ostrich and rise up to the challenges of the day, and marshal all resources towards visualizing the antics of Boko Haram, the better for all of us”, the governor said.
“But the bottom line is that we need more resources, more vote on ground. In all fairness to the officers and men of the Nigerian Army and Police, they are doing their best given the circumstances they have found themselves in. But honestly, Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops.
“And believe me, I am (an) eternal optimist as I have always said. But I am also a realist. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram”, he said.
Asked if he made his position that members of the sect are better armed, known to President Jonathan, the governor said, “I made it emphatically clear to Mr. President that the Boko Haram are better armed and better motivated, anybody who is following events in this country can attest to the fact that they have a very smooth sail overrunning communities, killing people.
“Have we ever succeeded in thwarting any of their plans? They went to Konduga and did what they wanted to do; they held sway for several hours before they left. They were in Kauri, Izge.
“And I don’t blame the Nigerian military honestly, we the leaders should be held responsible for our failure in leadership”.
At the last count, the casualty figure from weekend’s separate attacks in Baga and Izge villages of Kukawa and Gwoza Local Government Areas of Borno State by suspected members of Boko Haram sect has risen to about 120.
When asked to place a precise figure of lives lost in attacks by insurgents, the governor said, “In Idzge alone we lost 106 people and they raided eight other communities so until I get back home, today or tomorrow I cannot give you the exact figure. But some were hospitalized with very great injuries so I am afraid the figures might climb”.
On the purported threat by members of the insurgent group to launch attacks on Cameroon if it partners the Nigerian government in the fight against the sect, Mr. Shettima said, “I am not privy to such an information but the President has assured us that he will put in his best to see that the unfortunate tendency of the Boko Haram overrunning communities and butchering innocent souls is brought under control”.
When asked about the implication the Boko Haram attacks will have on the 2015 elections following threats by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to boycott the Northeast states currently under emergency rule until the security situation improves, the governor said he did not care about the elections as his major preoccupation was the return of peace to the Borno and the northern region as a whole.
“It’s too early for anybody to talk about election when human lives are involved, power comes from God and He gives power to whom He will. I don’t care a hoot whether elections are here but I do care that peace is restored in Borno and the North East sub-region, so people should stop playing politics”, he said.