Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Thursday told acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, that he had thought the latter would put off his visit to Borno due to the Wednesday Boko Haram attack.
Shettima spoke at the launching of a presidential intervention in multi-billion naira food aide to victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast which Osinbajo chaired in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
His words: “Frankly speaking, after Boko Haram made another violent but failed attempt on a community in Maiduguri last night, I concluded in my mind that we were likely to receive a signal from the Villa putting this event on hold or sending a Minister to represent the Acting President. This was the practice we were conditioned to accept judging from our first term in office.
“For instance, in May, 2014, we had a time our entire security architecture was put in place for a Presidential visit to Chibok. Everything was in place; even parents of the Chibok schoolgirls were on standby. But that historic and golden opportunity to show leadership was cancelled at the last hour based on some imaginary considerations.
“I reminded some persons at the Villa, that within days after the unfortunate abduction, my wife had driven to Chibok from Maiduguri without me and I had gone a day after her visit. I said it was defeatist for us as a country to mark any part of Nigeria were citizens live as a place a sitting President cannot go.
“Unless where war is in motion, Nigeria has always had the security arsenals, with air and ground troops that should be able to secure the President’s visit to any part of this country. If we believe there is a no-go-area for a Commander In Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, then what message are we sending to citizens who live in that area or are compelled to pass through it.
“The very day that the Presidential visit was cancelled, we had sent Government officials from Maiduguri to Chibok by road not by presidential helicopter. They were safely in Chibok and had mobilized the entire community. Some people would accuse always making comparisons between the incumbent Federal administration and the past, but then, life itself is a combination of the past and the present. You can only appreciate the present or the past, when you compare them.
“Mr. Acting President, Sir, we salute your good sense of judgment, your courage, patriotism and passion for the northeast which must have shaped your wisdom tin proceeding with today’s event. As I believe the acting President must have thought, the fact that a community was traumatized and displaced last night is the more reason the event should hold.
“Your Excellency, Sir, this visit is a major psychological warfare that sends a mighty and raw signal to the remnants of atrocious murderers, that this time around, Nigeria has a Presidency that cannot be intimidated backwards. This is a progressive Presidency that is forward ever and backward never.
“We will forever remain grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for his enormous commitment to ending this insurgency. We are grateful to your dedicated self for the empathy and passion you have shown to us” Governor Shettima said at the beginning of his remarks.
Shettima also acknowledged support from private bodies and international humanitarian partners during his remarks.
“I will not be kind to those who have been of immense support to us if I fail to acknowledge their help before you. Only yesterday, the Dangote Foundation launched this year’s intervention in Ramadan food aide. They did same last year in addition to donating building materials worth two billion naira to support our ongoing reconstruction works.
“Sometimes, I forget to mention the support of international humanitarian partners from agencies of the UN to organs like the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the MSF and establishments of countries like Norway and the United States.
“The reason I sometimes forget to mention them is because they have become part of Borno. Food intervention from especially the ICRC, WFP, UNHCR, MSF etcetera have been so regular that they have become us,” Governor Shettima added.