- Inside story of how Yobe strongman gallivants Abuja, Kano while his people grapple with damning insurgency
By Maryam Musa
“Leaders – true leaders and men of the people, more often than not stand out in times of crisis”, said the Russian essayist and activity, Gregori Norman. “The reason is self – explanatory: when all is normal and peaceful, virtually any one can be a leader or aspire to be) but when the situation becomes tough and critical, that’s when a true leader manifests by virtue of his courage, vision and self – sacrifice”.
Had Gregori Norman made that statement to the people of Borno State, it would have resonated with them in every ramification; for since the long – running Boko Haram terror antics heightened in the Northeast, Borno residents and indigenes alike have been immensely pleased with the leadership acumen demonstrated by the chief executive of their state.
Indeed, following the declaration of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States in 2013, Governor Shettima earned universal acclaim on account of the inspiring and motivational broadcast he made to the people of Borno State that day. And matching his words with action, the governor has been on the spot (so to say) in the face of the terrorists’ bombardment. Not only would Governor Shettima rush to the scene of any such tragedy, he would waltz to the hospital where the victims are being treated, and/or visit the families of the bereaved.
In the same vein the Borno helmsman would not only visit the camps of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), he would arrange for relief arterials to be distributed to them, so much so that as the correspondent of a Lagos-based daily poignantly puts if recently, “in Governor Shettima the people of Borno have not only found a veritable chief mourner but a leader who empathizes with his people to the extent of helping to assuage their pain and agony in practical ways”.
For the people of neighboring Yobe State, however, the contrast between their situation and that of their counterparts in Borno is quite significant. Whereas Governor Shettima by his hands–on leadership style epitomizes empathy, responsiveness and care, his Yobe State counterpart, Ibrahim Geidam, has been the very opposite of such virtues.
On a typical day when Boko Haram swoops on the hapless and defenseless citizenry, maiming, raping, and killing with abandon, the victims would be abandoned to their own fate. Reason? Unlike the Borno situation, the Yobe victims would learn that their governor was shuttling between his palatial mansions in Abuja and Kano completely unconcerned about the tears and blood flowing ceaselessly in Yobe.
Consider the latest mayhems, for example when on Sunday, Boko Haram operatives in a number of Hilux trucks and motorcycles over run Gaidam. This town, which is located about 187 kilometers from Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state incidentally bears the same name as the Yobe helmsman – in fact, it’s his hometown!
But as has become well known in Yobe and beyond in recent years, the governor was nowhere to be seen. The insurgents had killed the chief Imam of the central Mosque, the head of works department of the LGA, an ex-councilor, among others, and razed the LGA secretariat. They also plundered many residential buildings, even as thousands of the helpless residents fled to neighboring Niger Republic.
It would be recalled that prior to the latest terror alert medium had, through its now popular and pacesetting SMS Alert, reported that despite the heavy casanlty figures recorded in the series of Boko Haram attacks on Yobe, including the assassination of some medical doctors, Governor Gaidam remained unmoved – He neither sympathized with the bereaved and wounded doctora nor did he visit the internally displaced persons (IDPs) talk less of distributing relief materials to them.
Little wonder resident Doctors in Yobe recently embarked on an industrial action to protest the governor’s criminal neglect and insincerity. This is even as outrage reigns in the state over his seemingly endless escapades in Abuja and Kano, as well as the squandering of Yobe’s resources during his stay in these mansions.
“On average, hundreds of millions of tax payers’ money are squandered on luxurious living by the governor and his large retinue of aides wherever he stays in Abuja and Kano for even one or two weeks,” an official of the Yobe ministry of finance who pleaded for anonymity, revealed to our correspondent.
Evidently, Governor Geidam is, by such indulgence, emulating Emperor Nero who fiddles while Rome was burning. Emperor Geidam has obviously having a ball – filling like the prodigal son – while Yobe bleeds.