The recent visit to Borno State by President Goodluck Jonathan should be applauded by all wellmeaning Nigerians. The visit took him to camps for displaced persons and the military hospital where he saw firsthand soldiers wounded in battles while fighting Boko Haram insurgents. Following this, a lot of comments and insinuations have been made for and against the surprise visit. For all its symbolism, there is no denying the fact that such visits by the country’s leaders will go a long way in reassuring the people of their safety and wellbeing.
Even when it was long in coming, it still did not detract from the moraleboosting impact it would have on those caught in the conflicts. Four years into the Boko Haram insurgency, the North east of the country is facing a crisis of monumental proportion that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
The humanitarian catastrophe has not only tasked the country’s human and material resources, it is threatening to create a chasm and cleavage along religious and ethnic lines. With less than 30 days to the general election and the insurgents still on rampage, the question is whether there will ever be election in the Northeast in February For, whatever the answers are, there is need for government to assure Nigerians on its measures and strategies to secure the peace in that geopolitical zone. This is why the President’s visit should be a matter of importance and national interest. Shorn of any political motive, especially now that elections are fast approaching, President Jonathan’s visit is a way of restating to the citizens the duty of government to protect their lives and property in spite of all the shortcomings.
The visit could not have come at a more auspicious time, given that the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima,has been lamenting that about two-thirds of the state is under the control of Boko Haram, and with citizens of the affected areas fast losing faith in the ability of the Federal Government to protect them. It would be recalled that it was in Borno State that Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped over 260 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok. Till date, the fate and whereabouts of those girls brutally separated from their families remains unknown.
It is our considered view that President Jonathan also pay a visit to Chibok community, if only to make emphatic the pledge of his administration to rescue those innocent girls and bring them home. The reality of the Nigerian situation is that it is a country at war. In a situation like this, it behoves the President to be a rallying point for the country in surmounting its distress. Definitely, this is not time for the administration to keep its distance from Borno and other states in the Northeast.
*this was published in the Daily Times dated Monday, January 19, 2015