Shettima on Borno insurgency: I haven’t criticised Buhari because he listens to me

Kashim Shettima, governor of Borno, says he is yet to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari over the insecurity challenge in the state because he is convinced that Buhari is devoted to the fight against Boko Haram.

Shettima said this when he convened an “extraordinary security meeting” to address the recent series of attacks on the military and deteriorating security in the state.

According to him, he has “unfettered access” to the president, whom he says listens and takes drastic measures when he raises issues concerning Borno.

This relationship, Shettima said, is contrary to that with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, whom he claims had hurried meetings with him.

In recent weeks, the Boko Haram insurgent group has renewed attacks on the north-eastern state.

The group recaptured some communities and attacked the military base.

The governor said while he is saddened by the situation, he would rather assume a “position of strength” so as to inspire the military and citizens.

He added that he is so optimistic about the insecurity situation in the state that he sometimes boast the state is safer than Lagos.

“Some persons have asked why I have not criticised the Buhari government or the Nigerian military over situations in Borno. My response to them is that unlike in previous years when I was treated as an enemy of the Presidency, I have from 2015 to date, gained unfettered access to the President,” Shettima said.

“I see the Commander-In-Chief at the shortest request and I tell him my concerns, he listens to me with keen interest and in most cases, he takes measures. I have not had reason to be frustrated with the Presidency, unlike previous years.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is without the slightest doubt, devoted to the fight against Boko Haram. I believe that service chiefs, the IGP, the DG of DSS and heads of all para-military agencies share the commitment of Mr President.

“Let me say that even under the previous administration, I regularly supported and defended the military.

“I prefer to inspire our military and citizens. I prefer to make security matters as discrete as possible. There were times I managed to see the former president but our meetings were always under rush. There were times I resorted to writing him for the record. I remember one specific instance I wrote a strong letter in 2013, over serious concerns raised by the Nigerian Air Force command in Borno State, and I have to admit that President Jonathan took immediate measures on that.

“Sometimes, I unconsciously find myself boasting that Borno is safer than Lagos. I simply feel very bad to sound pessimistic about Borno. I so much believe in optimism.

“My greatest wish was and still is, not to bequeath Boko Haram challenges and IDP Camps to my successor. We wanted to, and still want to get Borno fully back to normal days.

“As a state government, we have done and will continue to do everything humanly possible in support of the fight against Boko Haram.”

The security meeting, which held at the government house, Maiduguri, involved many sectors including security agencies, traditional rulers, media and legal practitioners.