Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
Elders and youths in Borno State on Monday warned that they would resist any attempt to replace the governor of the state, Kashim Shettima, with a military administrator.
The position was made clear after separate meetings of the Bornu Elders Forum and the Norther Youths Unity Forum, NYUF, in Maiduguri.
This is coming as a reaction to reports in the media that the Presidency is contemplating the action as a means to curbing the insecurity in the state which has witnessed so much killings since 2009, even in the face of an emergency rule.
According to a communique distributed at a press conference after an emergency meeting, the Borno Elders Forum, BEF, said they received news of the plan with shock and disappointment, adding that it was evasive, diversionary and an abdication of responsibility by the federal government in tackling the insurgency.
“The Elders Forum condemns in no uncertain terms this move which will lead to further escalation and complication of an already bad security situation on the ground. The Elders Forum is aware of the inaction of the Federal Government in bringing this conflict to a decisive end. There was no serious action or political will to deal with the problem of insurgency in Borno and the rest of the North – East,” the forum said.
Also speaking in the same vein, NYUF, North east chapter, said the intent of the presidency to suspend the existing democratic institutions in the state is a gross breach of the Constitution.
The NYUF which was led to the press conference by its chairman, Usman Mustapha lamented that the state governors as chief security officers play mere advisory roles that may not be considered by the military and police formations who exercise, manage and control security services.
He said that the state governor, in spite of the security challenges, has been working round the clock to deliver good governance to the people in line with the fundamental objective and directive principles of the state policy and that the people of the state have not lost confidence in him.
“We have not, as a people, lost confidence in our governor, whom we duly elected barely three years ago. From the foregoing it is discernible that the action, if taken, will not only amount to inflaming the psyche of the silent majority in this part of the country that is already over heated,” the Youth Forum said.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan during a Presidential Media Chat Monday evening denied knowledge of the allegation. He said he is not aware of any plan that is seeking to remove the governor and replace him with a military administration, saying the allegation was baseless.
Notwithstanding the President’s denial, the Borno Elders say the people of the state cannot hold on to his words as recent happenings have shown that any rumour emanating from the presidency should be taken seriously and tackled headlong.
“We call on the Federal Government to retract this infamous intended action. The Governor of a state is only the Chief Security Officer of his state but lacks any control over national security forces. States do not have lawful security outfits. Therefore it is an aberration and vindictive to remove the Governor over issues he has no control on,” the Forum said.
They also appealed to the National Assembly to quickly intervene in the matter.