Shettima Lists Ways Of Combating Boko Haram


…Sends 50 Borno Indigenes To India For Agric Training

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, (THEWILL) â€' Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has listed ways of combating the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country.

He maintained that the war on the five-year-old insurgency can only be won through a combination of three-pronged strategy of military, socio-political and economic solutions, saying all the solutions must be accorded equal importance.

And stressing that poverty and unemployment are the main factors fuelling the insurgency, the state government has sent 50 Borno indigenes to India for a course on irrigation agriculture.

A statement by the governor's Special Adviser on Media, Alhaji Isa Gusau, said the training of Borno indigenes in agriculture is part of the three-approaches to fighting the insurgency in the State.

According to the statement, the 50 beneficiaries of the foreign training left Nigeria aboard an Ethiopian Airline in Abuja on Saturday after they were formally sent forth by the governor at a farewell ceremony held at the Ogbeh Farms in Kuje area council of the Federal Capital City (FCT).

The Farm is owned by the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh, who incidentally is a honorary adviser on agriculture to Governor Shettima and a key member of the Borno State Agricultural Transformation Team.

Shettima disclosed at the ceremony that he has since discovered that in addition to the indoctrination, Boko Haram insurgents have over the years been recruiting foot soldiers whom they pay salaries.

These foot soldiers, according to the governor, accept the offers because they are unemployed, saying the challenge can only be tackled by providing employment opportunities for the jobless youths through massive investment in agriculture.

He lamented that Boko Haram was paying vulnerable and jobless youths in the state as little as N5,000 to set schools ablaze or spy on soldiers due to absence of job opportunities.

'Besides those driven by spiritual motives, there is also the economically induced Boko Haram. This can be seen where some youths were paid as low as N5,000 to burn schools and spy on our security men. So that goes to show that Boko Haram is not only propelled by evil spiritual motive but also by economic motives,' he said.

According to Shettima, 'Boko Haram can best be contained through a combination of military, socio-political, and economic solutions,' adding 'none can be effective without the others.'

Shettima disclosed that the 50 beneficiaries, who were selected across the 27 local government areas of the State, are to undergo a three- week train-the-trainers course on Irrigation equipment installation, effective utilisation and maintenance and will be expected to train farmers across the state upon their return to the country.

He disclosed that an Indian company, Jain Irrigation of India, which is currently installing drip and centre pivot irrigation equipment in the state, will conduct the training as part of a contract between the state and the company.

Shettima said in addition to Indian irrigation equipment, an American company from Nebraska State, which is the world headquarters of irrigation equipment, will install 50 units of centre pivot and sprinkler irrigation equipment along Maiduguri -Konduga farm areas as a pilot programme.

According to the governor, 400 units of such equipment from U.S, India and China are expected for installation across private farms in the state with a view at increasing cropping to revolutionise agriculture and create millions of jobs so that 'Boko Haram would not find easy recruits as they have been enjoying.'

The governor promised that his Administration will continue to support the military and volunteers as a coercive unit, saying the focus must also be accorded to social re-orientation to de-radicalise citizens as well as provide jobs for majority of them.

He noted that unless this is done, Boko Haram would hardly be addressed in the immediate, medium and long term because 'so long as people can be recruited, the group can always grow.'

Shettima expressed confidence that if the 67,000 hectares of irrigation land in just one corner of the northern part of the State is properly harnessed, the Boko Haram insurgency in the state will be brought to an end.

He disclosed that the state had earlier trained 50 unemployed graduates of agriculture in different train-the-trainers courses for three months in Thailand, while some others had been trained in Sobore Farms in Adamawa and others in Benin Republic.

Shettima announced that the state is currently taking delivery of 400 containers of agricultural machinery following an earlier delivery of 500 mobile rice mills and groundnut processing units .

He disclosed that the newly- established micro finance bank in the state will soon be capitalised to provide loans to farmers and finance agricultural activities through policies that will be friendly to farmers.

'Land rather than oil is the most precious of all natural resources. Borno is the largest state in Nigeria even though some records say Niger is bigger than Borno. Borno is 20 times bigger than Lagos. Nigeria spends nearly $20 billion annually on imported food stuff. We are the greatest food importing nation. Borno has the singular advantage of diverting so much of the funds Nigeria spends on food importation, we are the only State bordering three countries and this makes agricultural trade easier. We can use that to take people off the streets and fight insurgency,' Shettima said.

He therefore urged the beneficiaries of the training not to betray the trust the government has in them in the effort to tackle the Boko Haram crisis through knowledge-based agriculture.

In a short remark at the ceremony, Ogbeh urged the beneficiaries to bring back good lessons from India even as he hailed Govenor Shettima for what he described as his steadfastness in developing knowledge-based agriculture in Borno State.