Elections must hold in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe - Northeast Governors insist
The Adamawa, Borno and Yobe governors rose from an expanded emergency security meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, saying that elections must hold in the North-East next month.
There have been fears in many quarters that the general elections may not hold in the zone because of Boko Haram insurgency.
Jonathan had on May 14, 2013 declared a six-month emergency rule in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states and renewed it twice at the peak of the Boko Haram activities.
His attempt to further extend the emergency rule in November 2014 was rejected by the National Assembly.
At the end of the Tuesday meeting which was also attended by security chiefs and relevant ministers, the governors argued that if elections could be held recently in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn places, the North-East should not be an exception.
Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam, told State House correspondents that the governors told the President to deploy more troops in the North-East ahead of the general elections.
Geidam said the troops on ground in the affected states were not enough to handle the security situation.
The governor said, 'We have come to brief the President on the security situation in our various states; we came to greet him and we told him the challenges we have been facing.
'We are appealing to the Federal Government to deploy more troops in addition to what we have on the ground to arrest the situation in our various states.
'We need more troops; the troops that we have on the ground in our various states are not enough to contain the situation. So we have appealed to the Federal Government to deploy additional troops with full equipment to contain the situation.
'Elections will hold in the states. Election will hold; that is the position of the electoral commission and definitely in all those areas where insurgency exists, elections will hold.'
His Borno State counterpart, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said elections must hold in the affected states to send a strong signal to the Boko Haram insurgents.
He said by not holding elections in the states, the government would be seen to have given in to the antics of the militants.
The governor argued that elections could be conducted in Internally Displaced Persons' camps.
He said, 'Elections, as I told you was conducted in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other war-torn places that are even more devastated than the North-East.
'Elections can be held in the Internally Displaced Persons camps. It is human beings that conduct elections, not spirit or anything.
'My take on this is that, are we giving in to Boko Haram? Are we giving in to their antics by not holding elections?
'We have to tell them to their face that you can kill, as Malala Yusuff said, but you cannot kill our spirit.'
Shettima described the meeting with the President as a fruitful one, saying he was optimistic that enduring peace would be recorded in the troubled areas very soon.
He said although he would not give a time frame during which peace would be restored, he was confident in the ability of the nation's military to rise up to the present challenges.
The governor said as an 'eternal optimist,' he was hoping for the best against whatever odds staring the people in the face.
When asked about the number of local governments under the control of the insurgents in his state, Shettima said he did not want to boost their egos by quoting figures because they thrive in publicity.
He however said that there were some councils that are partially under the control of the insurgents and some others under government's control.
The governor assured Nigerians that with 1,000 years of recorded history, Borno would rise again in spite of all its challenges.
When further asked if he believed that security agents were properly motivated, Shettima said he did not want to pass any negative comment.
He said, 'They (security agents) are making efforts. I want to leave it at that. I don't want to pass any negative comment. They are people with blood running in their veins facing the insurgents and so I have to be respectful of the institution.
'Insha Allah, we don't have any option but to win this war, we shall; we must; we have no option. Elections will be held by the grace of God.'
On the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Shettima asked journalists to direct their enquiry to the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Mike Omeri, whom he said, was in a better position to answer questions on the matter.
A former Governor of Yobe State, Senator Bukar Ibrahim, who accompanied his governor to the meeting, expressed doubt about the possibility of closing a border of 1,500 kilometres from Borno to Kebbi State as a way of curtailing the insurgency.
He however said government at all levels should continue to work hard to end the violence.
When asked whether he envisaged insurgency during his tenure as the state governor, Ibrahim said he did.
He however stated that it was former President Olusegun Obasanjo who 'crushed the Yobe Taliban over a period of just few weeks.'
He regretted that about 13 councils were currently being controlled by the insurgents in the state.
He said, 'We went through this, they came to Damaturu and killed people, burnt policemen, doctors, nurses and so many others but within a short time, Obasanjo was able to crush them.'
He however said the current challenges could not be blamed on leadership.
'This one is a more terrible one than the earlier one. The earlier one I think was a small one; it was a small insurgency. This one is very huge with some international connections.'
In attendance at the meeting were Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Governor Bala Ngilari of Adamawa State and the Secretary to the Government of Borno State, Abba Gida.
Others were the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu; the Director-General of the State Security Service, Ekpenyong Ita; the Inspector-General of Police, Sulaiman Abba; and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN); the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Gusau; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, also attended. - Punch.