BORNO: Service in the face of daunting challenges

BORNO: Service in the face of daunting challenges
July 16 22:13 2017

By Nasir Kura


Some political office holders sweep into office on the back of their electoral triumph stoking expectations and promising to deliver heaven and earth on a platter of gold. But when it’s time to walk their talk, such folks would grumble, stumble and tumble theatrically. Conversely, others would mount the throne with little or no razzmatazz, but eventually surpass expectations in terms of their performance and the difference they make in people’s lives.

One of the latter breed of politicians is the Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state. As many political affairs commentators have had cause to point out again and again, Shettima had mounted the saddle six years ago with little or no pomp. His ascension to power was virtually devoid of the “sound and fury” that usually characterize the emergency of a new helmsman at government house. That was partly due to the gentleman’s quiet nature and partly due to his appreciation of the trying times facing his state in particular and the entire north-east region in general.

Even at that, Shettima hit the ground running in his characteristic quiet but effective style. To the surprise of his political opponents and supporters alike, the governor started implementing a series of visionary programmes and polices right from his first couple of months in office, despite the unprecedented security challenges confronting him and the long-suffering people of Borno state. So much so that when marking his first hundred days on the saddle, the government showcased a number of completed and ongoing projects that in terms of scope, outlay and socio-economic significance, towered above what many of his counterparts were doing within the same period.

Ask those who knew Shettima before he ventured into the political terrain and they would candidly confess that although they were pleasantly surprised by the manner of capability, vision and courage on display, they were not shocked in the least, given the sort of track record of performance and industry he had garnered over the years, and to the embarrassment of the traducers who had predicted that despite what they called “flash in the pain” he would falter as the years advanced, the reverse was the case, Shettima accelerated his performance in all directions.

Unarguably, one of his best moments in the national and international spotlight came in late 2012 when the government of then President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three states, including Borno, in the heat of the Boko Haram insurgency. In a style and manner reminiscent of a seasoned statesman and orator, Shettima addressed his people in a state-wide broadcast which elicited rave reviews across Nigeria and beyond. Calm, cool and courageous even in the face of the boiling crisis that forced the federal government to declare a state of emergency, Shettima in that speech tried to calm frayed nerves even as he inspired hope and assured his compatriots of the government’s determination to protect them by all means. For him, the war against insurgency may be tough and long-drawn but together, and with Allah’s blessing, we shall eventually triumph.

Indeed, in the area of security, Shettima has sparkled like a million stars in the past six years, given that Borno is unarguable the state most affected by the insurgency, reckless bravado.

Not only has his administration been given unalloyed support to the military security agencies like the army, SSS, police, etc., it has also been stoically shouldering the responsibility of sponsoring the activities of the youth vigilante called Civilians–Joint Task Force. Little wonder, normalcy is gradually returning to most part of the state, particularly the capital, Maiduguri.

In the area of job creation, the Shettima administration has also been second to none in the past six years, as evidenced by its string of achievements. In particular, its visionary initiative targeted at addressing the socio-economic challenges induced by the Boko Haram problem have been winning accolades of youths who have been engaged in the making of interlocking bricks that are used in landscaping Maiduguri. Under the aegis of Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA), a legion of young men and women has been hired as street sweepers.

In the area infrastructure, Governor Shettima upped the tempo of his giant strides with the creation of the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. Saddled with the Herculean responsibility of rebuilding all the public structures and homes of the displaced persons wrecked by Boko Haram, the ministry has been quiet proactive. For example, reconstruction works have been rounded-off in four villages in Kaga Local Government Area, while those in Askira Uba, Bama, Gwoza and Gamboru-Ngala Councils have reached advanced stages.

That brings to the fore the challenge of managing the camps of Internally Displaced Person (IDPs). With a somewhat stroke of genius, the government innovative household feeding system for IDPs is making a difference by eliminating the problem of duplication, wastage and hoarding/stealing in one fell swoop. At the same time, Shettima mounted an aggressive campaign which led to donation of billions of naira in cash and by both local and international agencies. This is even as the government has started relocating the IDPs to the communities liberated from Boko Haram.

Check out the laudable steps the action Governor of Borno has been taking in other sectors such as health, agriculture, education, ICT, etc and it would become apparent even to the blind that verily, verily a Daniel has come to judgments in the heart of the famous Kanem Borno Empire.