BY MAHMOON BABA-AHMED
The recent visit to Borno State by Vice-President Mohammed Namadi Sambo is extremely crucial especially in its expected effects on the future course of events in the beleaguered area. The visit was paid at the most critical period when the state was recovering from the outcomes of terrible situations that resulted from disastrous events. Earlier, so many bad things had happened to the state and its people without any high ranking federal government official offering to mitigate the diversely adverse consequences, either through helpful suggestions or playing a positive role in forestalling the unrelenting threat to lives and properties.
The perennial insecurity that spread throughout most part of the Northeast Zone was rampant in Borno and Yobe states and became a major source of concern for everybody. As a result, politicians and social critics had a field day expressing serious disapproval and dissatisfaction with northern elites whom they perpetually accused of either complacency in the escalation of the crises or for utter indifference about getting involved in many co-ordinated attempts to contain the situation. However, contrary to the contention of these critics, the northern leadership had bent over backwards, albeit fruitlessly, in relentless efforts to ensure quick return to normalcy and speedy resolution of the difficult situations.
In that case it was generally believed that the apparent failure by federal government officials to visit the area, when it was absolutely necessary to do so, must not be unconnected with the mistaken notion that it was solely an affair of the northerners which must be exclusively addressed by them. So, therefore, when a faction of the dreaded Boko Haram sect waved an olive branch, signalling its desire for a ceasefire, the area was considered moderately safe, and a high ranking official of northern extraction then hurriedly visited the area to prove to the world that peace had indeed been achieved and normalcy was in actual fact restored.
The Vice Presidential visit was therefore highly significant because it opened up a vista of prospects for the federal government to venture into hitherto unexploited opportunities to make life meaningful for the already despondent populace. It also kindled passion for fresh hopes to the people that longed for peace and progress. It was against that backdrop Vice President Namadi Sambo dropped hints of imminent moves to revamp the already battered economy of the area through measured assessment of the situation on the ground.
Vice President Sambo consulted Governor Kasshim Shettima and a cross section of stakeholders in the state with a view to evolve strategies similar to the United State’s post-war aid programme, otherwise called Marshal Plan, to help the state rebuild after the devastating crises. He assured that the federal government would always carry Borno State in its development projects and will constantly extend its maximum support to the state government’s laudable efforts in restoring peace. Correspondingly, Governor Shettima earnestly solicited timely commencement of the rehabilitation works on almost all the federal government’s highways in the state which he hoped would greatly supplement poverty alleviation projects currently embarked upon by the his government to eliminate one of the major causes of unrest and insurgency in the state.
The Vice President gave Governor Shettima an encouraging pat on the back for his commendable efforts in actualising the ceasefire by Boko Haram within a short period of time, through masterly sessions of dialogues with the obliging insurgents. For that reason, the Vice President said, the federal government, would as a matter of urgency, commence proper drilling of petroleum crude before the end of March this year, at the three major oil blocks discovered at the shores of Lake Chad, where the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is currently carrying out exploratory missions.
Engrossed in excessive ecstasy while revealing his glad tidings to the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Namadi Sambo talked excitedly about the exact locations of the three oil finds, out of which one is within Maiduguri municipality; and that even the Royal palace of Shehu could be sitting atop the vast expanse of the ‘black gold.’ That was indeed a joyful piece of news not only to the good people of Borno State but the multitude of expectant northerners whose pleasure with that development is illimitable. This is more so because they will now hold their heads high with pride and will henceforth be saved the anguish of being branded unproductive parasites and scroungers by oil producing southerners.
However, to make the exploitation of the oil possible, the government must sustain the emergent peace by taking urgent and adequate steps to safeguard its vulnerable and porous borders with its neighbours in that region and to also employ meaningful and practicable strategies to wipe out the relics of the insurgency and obstruct all possible avenues for a relapse.
With that done, the federal government will then assist and encourage all states in the North, wrecked by the nefarious activities of insurgents, in whatever form, to breathe new life into their moribund industries and bring about the speedy recovery from the multiple problems that caused economic stagnation and social dislocation. This will surely revive the embattled North and restore its lost glory.