Borno state was Boko Haram’s major theatre of despair. The terrorist group was able to operate a wack-a-mole strategy in the area- attacking the region and withdrawing across the border.
It soon gained confidence to extend its activities to other states in the northeast of the country. And began taking territories.
A few days ago, Governor Kashim Shettima said in an interview with NAN that the state capital, Maiduguri, is more secure than Abuja and Lagos. Saying that the Nigerian army’s push against Boko Haram paid off.
“Maiduguri is more secured than even Lagos or Abuja. There are 2 million people living in Maiduguri. We celebrated Sallah without any incident. By the grace of God, we are poised for a great change. Believe me, in the next couple of months, you will see changes in the fortunes of the people of the state,” he said.
The Nigerian army, on its part, earlier said they had technically defeated Boko Haram.
Part of the premise the governor based his conclusion on is that they “celebrated Sallah without any incident”. And overtime Nigerians have known the group to strike during festive periods. Seeing that there was no incident, the technical defeat is resounding.
So the statement by the governor reflects a huge leap for the state. But won’t this be an overkill considering that Lagos has not experienced insurgency or any major upheaval and Abuja also hasn’t, in recent times?
A look through the timeline shows the extent of insecurity that bedeviled Borno state.
Boko Haram’s activities in the state began in 2009.
In 2013, former President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in northeast Nigeria part of the country (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe) due to the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the region. Twelve areas of Maiduguri were Boko Haram strongholds at the time.
And in April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 219 secondary school girls from Chibok.
In July 2104, the Governor said “176 teachers had been killed and 900 schools destroyed [by the terrorists] since 2011.”
Boko Haram’s reign of terror is a dark period in the Country’s history and the communities affected are still reeling from their losses. The after effect led to over 3.3 million internally displaced persons and cases of malnutrition and poor management in the IDP camps.
The Nigerian army reclaimed territories from the insurgents. And the people of Konduga in Bornu State, for instance, returned to their community earlier in September after fleeing two years ago.
With the Governor’s statement, we can now put the Nigerian army’s victory in proper perspective. The people can return to their communities. And these communities have to rebuild from ground up.
Baari Mustapha, one of Konduga returnees puts the position of the returnees best “We plead with our leaders to have pity on the poor ones going back to their homes; because we are today as naked as a new born baby”.