By Husseini Mongonu
My Dear Governor,
When you were sworn into office on 29th May 2011, the Boko Haram insurgency had thrown your State of Borno into a state of war. Beginning from 2009 when the group started an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria, using your State as its base, governing Borno was a herculean task.
But you came to office as governor well equipped for that task. You were not a stranger to happenings in Borno and the challenges of governance in your State given your background. From 2007 to 2011, you served as Commissioner in 5 Ministries in Borno State.
You were Commissioner of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs (2008), Education (2009), Agriculture and Natural Resources and finally to the Ministry of Health from where you contested the Governorship in 2011 which you won under the platform of the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and was inaugurated on May 29, 2011. You won reelection in 2015 under the All Progressives Congress, APC and was unambiguously chosen as Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, an umbrella body of Governors in the 19 States located in northern Nigeria.
Even with this background, I do not envy you because of the problems that confronted you in 2011 because of the insurgency. Nobody adequately prepares for war, especially for an insurgency in which the government is pitched against the very people it has sworn to defend and protect. Consequently, I have always supported your efforts in the war against the insurgency. It is not only me but it is common knowledge that the broad spectrum of the Borno and Nigerian people support you.
In 2013, the youths of Borno mobilized themselves to defend your government and their ancestry. The National Security Adviser and Nigerian Army, for the first time in the history of Nigeria formalized this effort by establishing the volunteer effort known as the JTF. The volunteers have played very significant role in supporting the military in ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents.
You have approved salaries, kits and patrol vehicles for the civilian JTF while at the same time giving so much support to the Nigerian Armed Forces. You have led in mobilization of community based intelligence gathering and the provision of hundreds of patrol vehicles and material logistics to the military in particular and to all other security agencies.
Despite all these commendable efforts by your government, in September, 2014, Maiduguri, the seat of Government, became very vulnerable to being occupied by insurgents. The fear was so intense that notable residents relocated their families to Abuja. However, it the midst of such fright while you were out of the country for an official assignment you returned to Maiduguri in a show of courage and patriotism.
On your return, you mobilized residents towards rising up in defense of their ancestry. Although Maiduguri didn’t fall, the insurgents succeeded in occupying 20 out of the 27 local government areas of the State before the Nigerian Armed Forces liberated them between 2015 and 2016.
With the insurgent group on the defensive, you have made commendable efforts at peace building. You have championed Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of victims. You have also focused much attention on expansion and remodeling of existing schools and the building news boarding primary and junior secondary schools to cater for over 50, 000 unaccompanied orphans whose parents were killed by insurgents across the 27 local government areas of the State.
These you have done, aside from your other responsibilities to the Northern Governors Forum where you have been been driving key changes in the affairs of the forum with focus on promoting northern unity and reviving ailing industries belonging to northern States.
These efforts have been appreciated by the Nigerian public and have also attracted positive recognition within and outside Nigeria. You emerged the 2014 Governor of the Year (Leadership Newspapers), Governor of the Year, 2015, (Nigeria Union of Journalists, national body); Governor of the Year, 2015 (NewsWatchTimes Newspapers); Governor of the Year, 2015 (Vanguard Newspapers); Governor of the Year, 2016 (Tell Magazine); 2017 Zik Prize for Leadership; Kaduna NUJ Award for courage and exceptional leadership (2017), FCT NUJ Merit Award for exceptional Leadership, 2017.
But I hasten to remind you of some answered questions. In doing this, I do not harbor any malice against you and your government. I only wish to remind you that we are in a democracy and that in this system of ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’, accountability is key.
I have heard from the grapevine that your predecessor, Governor Modu Sheriif, for all his shortcomings left N75 billion in the kitty for you to inherit and that he left no debts whether internal or external. Is this true? The people will like to know what you inherited in 2011.
The people will also want to know how much came into the state kitty from the Federation Account, what was generated internally and what the international donors gave to the state to take care of the humanitarian problems created by the insurgency.
There is also need for you to quantify what the state gave to JTF, police and the army in her contribution to fight the insurgency.
As commendable as your efforts are in the area of reconstruction and rehabilitation, the people have a right to know the details of these efforts. It is not enough to pick a few select journalists and show them gleaming new Mega Primary Schools, Borno’s Industrial Park and the Specialist Hospital which your government has built. How much did these projects cost the government? What benefit will they bring to the state? How well trained are the personnel to manage the state of the art facilities installed there?
There is also widespread speculation that pensioners in the state are owed huge amounts of money. Is this true? It is not just the pensioners alone. When you handed over on 29th May, how much did the state owe? These and many other questions that cannot be accommodated in the space of a newspaper article are questions you should endeavor to answer.