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Borno: Zulum, A Weeping Governor

By Suleiman Umaru

Barely about 17  years  after the death of Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe, a one-time governor of Imo state, south  east Nigeria, described in political circles in the second Republic as a weeping governor , appears to have been replaced as Babagana Umara  Zulum, a Professor,  has emerged in Borno sate, north east Nigeria.

While the issue of  paucity of Funds to develop Imo  sate had prompted  Mbakwe, the late governor of Imo sate to cry out  to the then late President Shehu Shagari  of the ruling National Party Of Nigeria,  NPN,  government for financial support from the Federal government , Zulum’s  problem has nothing to do with paucity of funds to run his government.

 He  may have been labelled a weeping governor due the activities of the Abubakar Shekau led Islamic Fundamentalist group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province,  ISWAP,  in  the  state which had resulted in the killing of millions people and forced many others   to relocate to the  Central African country, CAR, of Cameroon  and the West African country of Chad.

Between May 199, when he received his first baptism of fire from the Insurgents in the state and now, there has never been any week  that one Community or the other in the north state has not been attacked by the insurgents and scores of people killed . On Saturday, January 2, 2021, suspected insurgents attacks  was the abduction of one Abubakar Idris, a Staff  of the United  Nations High Commission For Refugees, UNCHR  around Jakana village in Maiduguri, Capital of Borno state. There were indications that 20 ther travelers were abducted by the insurgents in the raid. The insurgents were said to have disguised  as soldiers  and mounted road blocks   along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road where they accosted the travellers. 

  Recall that governor’s entourage along the Bama-Maiduguri road  were   ambushed and attacked  by the insurgents. Eyewitness disclosed that there could have been  many casualties  but for the  intervention of the soldiers who forced the insurgents to run into  the bush.

  The mass burial of the  44 rice  farmers killed  in Zabarmari Community in Mafa local government area of the state by the insurgents actually exposed Zulum as a weeping governor .  Many see him as the most devastated governor in the north east  that  other  governors  from other  states of the Federation , particular, south and south east, south –south and Taraba in the north central geopolitical   sympathise with him.

An aggrieved Zulum had cried out that there is sabotate in the system, sabotage in the military and sabotage in the civil service, thus fueling the crisis in the north east region. The governor , who had never had any moment of rest over the last one  and half years, had on two different occasions mobilised the elders of the state  to the Presidential Villa, to have audience with  President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, and to seek for the removal of the service Chiefs, who they believe  have failed the nation. But that was how far he could go.

BokoHaram Insurgents: Turn Zulum Into A Weeping Governor

The frequency of attacks and killings in the Zulum  home state may have been too bad that in 2020 alone, that  the Katsina state born Nigerian President was never tired of  sympathising with the people and government of  Borno  ,over the killings  in the  state. The pitiable  situation in the north east  state was so bad in the  2020, that the ruling APC, governors in the  country had mobilised to pay a solidarity visit to the embattled  Borno state governor who may be praying  for his first term in office in elapse to quit honorably without seeking re-election in2023.

Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and APC National  Leader who is not happy over what  is happening in Borno state , which has turned Zulum into a weeping governor by the Zamabri killing in the state and what the Professor is may  be going through in the state in the hands of the BokoHaram and ISWAP insurgents , who  are out to take over the state that  because of the frequency of Boko Haram and IWAP attacks in  Communities in the state had  joined other Nigerians  to pay the north east   state  governor a solidarity visit last year.

The Borno state  governor , who is not happy that most of the Communities of the state have been deserted by the residents due to the  Insurgency attacks may have realised that it is giving the terrorists  undue advantage . This may  have  informed  why he has started making efforts to facilitate the repatriation of the people in various refugee Camps in Cameroon and Chad over the last six years  back to the state.

 The governor may have intensified efforts to facilitate the repatriation of the Born state born refuges in Camerron and Chad , when he had opportunity of visiting Minwao refugee Camp in Cameroon and  Baga Sola Camp within the Chadian territory. He may have been touched by the plight of the people , that no esponsible government  would allow its citizens stay in such a dehumanizing  condition in another country in refugee Camps.        

Zulum’s major worry was that of the over 60,000   refugees, in Minwao  camp in Cameroon, from the north east state of Adamawa and Borno states and other parts of Nigeria, the majority are from the Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General  and National Security Adviser, NSA, and Yusuf Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff,  home state of Borno.

 He may have been exposed to the plight of the refugees  because  he had visited the Minwao camp  in Cameroon  with  social protection relief materials to the people.  He was said to  have also  supervised  the distribution  of food items  and cash relief  to  thousands of families , he had  helped in the past  to cross  to the Lake Chad  waters  border between Nigeria and Chad border,  to  reach  the Baga Sola refuge camp within the Chadian Border territory. There  are indications that  the Zulum led  APC, government in Borno state in the last three weeks had spent  over N50 million  to settle some 5,000 families in the refuge  camps.

The Borno state governor  may have been carrying along with him relief materials and food items to the camps to solve the food needs of the refugees. Aware that the state  government could not bear the burden alone because of its lean financial situation  may have informed why   he has reached out  to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA,  under the close watch of Muhammed Alhaji Munguno, a  retired Air Vice Marshal, AVM,  to demand for  food supplies to the  over 800,000 , Internally Displaced  Persons, IDPs,  in the state.

 The Borno state  governor  was said to have, informed Munguno  the NEMA , Director General, Munguno,  a retired Air Vice Marshall, AVM, that the refugees in the IDP camps in Munguno, Bama, Damboa, Gwoza, Dikwa Gamboru, Ngala, Damasak, Banki,  Pulka and Gajiram,    urgently needed  food supplies to support  the efforts currently being made by the state government  for  theprovision of basic  needs across the state.

The  governor,  was said to said to cited  he intervention efforts of the Agency,  the Northeast Development Commission, and the Hameed Ali, a retired Army colonel led Nigerian Customs Service, NCS,  following the Katsina state born Nigerian Pesident  directive  some two years ago, that contraband  of foreign rice seizures from smugglers  across the country be used  for humanitarian support  in these crisis areas in the state.

He noted that the food interventions in the crisis areas had  sustained  majority of the those at the IDP Camps at Munguno and other Camps in  other parts of the state  who basically  rely on Agriculture as their means of livelihood  as they could no longer   access their farm lands  due to the activities of the Insurgents.  

Onyeama: Minister Of Foreign Affairs And Zulum Hold Closed Door Meeting For The Repatriation Of Borno State Refuges In Cameroon And Chad

   Given that the insurgents are losing ground in the state, Zulum, according to informed sources has intensified  efforts  to facilitate  the repatriation of the Borno citizens  in refugee Camps in Cameroon and Chad.The Borno state governor  was said to have  met with Geofrey Onyeama , the minister of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, December 31, 2020, to plead with him to expedite action on the  conclusion of   intergovernmental  efforts for  the voluntary  repatriation  of the thousands of the Borno citizens  currently taking refuge in parts of Cameroon, after fleeing the   BokoHaram and ISWAP, attacks in batches in the state over the last six years.

The meeting was said to have  been held  at the Federal ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory , FCT.  A source told The Magazine that  the Borno state governor’s meeting with Onyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs was a follow up  to the   meeting with Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, the minister of Humanitarian Affairs , Disaster Management , Social Development, and top officials of  the National Commission of Refuges, migrants and internally displaced persons, NCRMIDP as well as  the United Nations High  Commission of Refugees, UNHCR, and other relevant stakeholders in order to  facilitate the repatriation of the Borno state citizens taking refuge in  Cameroon and Chad refugee CCamps. 

The meeting between Zulum, the Borno state governor, and the Foreign Affairs  minister, was said to have been held behind closed doors. The duo were said to have  discussed  extensively  the role of the ministry  which  has a mandate ‘’to facilitate  the repatriation  of the Borno refugees in Cameroon and Chad through Diplomatic channels, with hope to undertake it in this first month of January, 2021.

Given the importance attached to the meeting by the Borno state  government,  Bbaba Ahmed Joda, Nigeria Ambassador to the Asian country of China  was said to have participated in the meeting  in his capacity as a statesman from the north east state.

It would be recalled that  the Borno state  governor  had  also  had a meeting  with  President Idris  Derby  of Chad to discus the repatriation  of the  thousands of Nigerians , particular, Borno Citizens, who are  refugees in the country. Bukar Kolo, the country’s Ambassador in Chad , was said to have participated  in the high-powered meeting  at the Chadian  Presidential Palace. The outcome of the meeting remain shrouded in secrecy.

 Meanwhile, Zulum, the Borno stat governor, who is determined to  re-settle the  citizens who  are refuges in Cameroon and Chad refuge camps, was said  the  approved  the Construction  of thousands of houses which are still ongoing   in the deserted Communities. The governor is optimistic that housing projects would be completed soon. This  may have informed  why he has taken  up the matter with Onyeama, the minister of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the repatriation of the refugees from the state who have been in these two African countries for the past six years that the insurgents took over their Communities, with little or resistance from the army.      

Stephen Ubanna

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