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CPC, Others Say Jonathan’s Visit to Borno, Yobe a Wasted Effort

News » Politics

Date: 11th, MARCH, 2013

Image: President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday came under attack for his last week’s state visit to terror-stricken Borno and Yobe States.

The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) said yesterday that there was no benefit that accrued to the people from the visit.
There were also concerns in government circle in Borno and Yobe States following Jonathan’s non-commitment to ease the burden of peacekeeping of the governments of the two states ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency.

Jonathan who paid a two-day state visit to the two states between last Thursday and Friday left without any promise of financial aid to the two states to reduce their funding of the special anti-terrorism squad code named Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to the two states to check Boko Haram terror activities.

Reacting to the visit yesterday, the CPC described the presidential trip as another meretricious expedition, which has left unanswered many questions and brought no succour to the people.
CPC in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said it was obvious that the visit was a knee-jerk response of the presidency to the visit of opposition governors to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, a week earlier.

“Undoubtedly, the president’s visit would serve no useful purpose and indeed very meretricious if there is no cogent plan for rehabilitating the displaced and bringing normalcy to the socio-economic life of the people. After all, the constitution is unambiguous in aptly declaring that the purpose of government shall be the welfare and security of the people,” he said.

It said in the last three years, hundreds of Nigerians living in Northern states had been killed, with many more suffering different degrees of disabilities as a result of the terrorist attacks.
According to the party, many Nigerians in these areas have also been caught in the crossfire of the war that have dispossessed them of their means of livelihood.

It said all these were people desirous of succour from the leadership but they got nothing during the president’s visit.
“It is left to be seen how the president’s visit, which was mainly about flying above the heads of the Nigerian residents in these areas, would help to solve the intractable issues on the ground, “the party said.

CPC wondered what might have changed  between the serial postponements of the president’s visit to the two states in the last two years because of the predictable reason of unfavourable security reports and the decision to visit last Thursday.

It said it was not difficult to believe that the real reason for the visit was to match up the opposition governors’ visit to Borno State.
“Was it the feat of the progressive governors in freely interacting with the people on the streets of Maiduguri (with minimal security presence) that made the president believe a trip to these hotbeds is possible, albeit with the aid of a 3,000-strong police force ably led by the Inspector General of Police (IG)?

“The antecedent of the president in courageous crisis management leaves much to be desired. It would be recalled that after the bomb blast at the precinct of Eagle Square – the venue of the Independence anniversary on 1st October, 2010 -  a timorous presidency shifted the subsequent celebrations to within the barricaded walls of the Aso Villa!

“The question is: with a supposition of a bomb blast around the Aso  Villa, would the president’s official residence be shifted to Otuoke in Bayelsa State? It is our belief that the power of the president/commander-in-chief comes with the responsibility that transcends mere adornment with the epaulette of a field marshal at national ceremonies. The president, like the ancient centurion, should never be lacking in nobility, honour and valour,” the party said.

A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Shuaibu Gwanda, also yesterday said the president was not serious about tackling the security challenge facing the country, following his refusal to grant amnesty to Boko Haram members.
He described the president’s  visit to Borno  and Yobe States as political aimed at scoring cheap points.
He told journalists in Sokoto that Jonathan was not sincere in ending   the security challenge that has ravaged the North by refusing amnesty for Boko Haram members that would have facilitated dialogue with the Islamic group.
According to him, the Boko Haram debacle is a manifestation of poverty and unemployment, hence the need for the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the militants in order to restore peace in the beleaguered region.
He said: “As you are aware, the Boko Haram members are agitating because of marginalisation and injustice. So, if President Jonathan is sincere about tackling the security challenge bedevilling the country, then he should grant amnesty to the members of the sect.
“If the Federal Government  has listened to Niger Delta militants by granting them amnesty, what will stop the Federal Government from doing same to Boko Haram so as to ensure peace in the North?” 

Gwanda described Jonathan’s recent visit to Borno  and Yobe States as belated, pointing out that it would not change people`s perception about his administration.
“As far as I am concerned, Jonathan’s visit to Borno and Yobe States is just to score political gains and not borne  out of genuine concern for the suffering being faced by the residents,”  he added.
A former Lagos State Police Commissioner,   Mr. Abubakar Tsav, also said Jonathan’s visit to Yobe and Borno States without granting   amnesty to Boko Haram members had no r significance.

“President Goodluck Jonathan can only beat this by granting general and unconditional Amnesty to the sect members just as the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did to the Niger Delta militants .
“Anything short of general amnesty will mean nothing but a visit to mock the traumatised governments and people of the two states,” he said in a statement.

There was disappointment also in government circle in the two states that the president during his visit ignored their suggestions and request on the  crisis.
The president, at a town hall meeting with stakeholders in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, last Thursday, rejected the clamour by Northern political and traditional leaders  for amnesty for Boko Haram members.

During the Borno leg of the tour last Friday, Jonathan criticised Borno elders for their tacit support for Boko Haram, which has led to the proliferation of violence in the state and rejected their request for the withdrawal of troops from the state.
THISDAY findings revealed that both the governments of Borno and Yobe States were left dissatisfied that Jonathan’s visit to their states left them with little or no gain  but tongue lash.

  The governments of both states and their people had believed that the president’s visit would bring some relief, with the people looking forward to the relaxation of the militarisation of the troubled states and the governments expecting that the Federal Government would lift the burden of keeping the soldiers off them.
But their dissatisfaction stemmed from the fact that the president did not make any notable commitment on how to ease the difficulties arising from the state of insecurity in the two states.

  Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, while receiving the president who paid him a courtesy call, had urged him to assist the state government with an intervention fund to be able to bear the heavy security burden.
According to him, the state spends N200 million monthly on the troops and had committed a total of N4.8 billion to their welfare since their deployment.
  He said: “ Your Excellency (Jonathan) may wish to note that the accumulated expenditure of the Yobe State Government is about N4.8 billion from the beginning of the insurgence to date.

   “Mr. President, considering the colossal sum being expended on maintenance of the security personnel in comparison with the meagre resources at our disposal, its telling effect on the economy of the state cannot be denied. Funds that could have been used for provision of social services are being deployed to the fight against insurgency. It is in this regard that I made a special appeal to Mr. President to come to our rescue by allocating intervention funds to the state government to enable it to cope with the current security challenges.”

The president at the town hall meeting in Damaturu only offered to assist in rebuilding the state but did not make a commitment on sharing in the financial burden of maintaining the troops.
Although, Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, did not publicly appeal to the president for financial intervention, one of his top aides told THISDAY he never expected anything less from the president than what Yobe State governor expects as the burden was more telling on Borno State than Yobe.  

The aide, who preferred anonymity, said: “No matter the amount Yobe State is spending, Borno will send nothing less than twice as dictated by the size of the two states and the military operations in the two states.

  “The people are not happy that the president just condemned the attitude of the people to the insurgent in Borno, but never said anything about lifting the heavy burden of keeping the soldiers off the state government which has started taking its toils on everything in the state.”

Article Credit: Thisday News

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