The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, has recommended the recruitment of foreign mercenaries by the federal government to help in ending the Boko Haram war.
The previous Goodluck Jonathan administration utilised foreign mercenaries, including South Africans, against Boko Haram; mainly in the build-up to the 2015 general elections. The mercenaries are believed to have contributed to the successes the military recorded in the few weeks leading to the 2015 general election. The Buhari administration, however, jettisoned the use of mercenaries, promising to equip and empower the Nigerian military to defeat the insurgents.
Mr Zulum made his suggestion when he received a federal government delegation that visited the state to commiserate with the people of Borno over the Saturday killing of 43 farmers by suspected members of Boko Haram.
PREMIUM TIMES reported Saturday’s mass killing of rice farmers in Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. The victims were buried on Sunday.
On Monday, the federal government delegation was led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who was accompanied by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and other ministers.
Mr Lawan conveyed the sympathy of the federal government over the killings in Jere even as he reiterated the commitment of the Buhari administration to end the 11 years old insurgency.
But Mr Zulum seemed unimpressed with the depth of the federal government’s commitment towards ending the decade-old war.
The governor, therefore, made six key recommendations to the federal government to resolve the insurgency.
“One of our recommendations as possible solutions to end the insurgency is the immediate recruitment of our youths into military and paramilitary services to complement the efforts of the Nigerian forces,” he said.
“Our second recommendation is to engage the services of our immediate neighbours, especially the government of Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic, in clearing the remnants of Boko Haram hiding in the shores of the Lake Chad.
“Our third recommendation is for him to engage the services of the mercenaries to clear the entire Sambisa forest.
“Our fourth recommendation is for him to provide the police and the military, with armed resistant armoured personnel carriers and other related equipment.
“We are also soliciting the support of the federal government to support the Borno state repatriation of out displaced persons currently residing in Cameroon and Niger Republic,” he said.
The governor also called on President Buhari to increase federal support for residents of Borno State.
The governor said though the insurgency had dragged on for 11 years, it was persistent because efforts have not been well coordinated. He described Saturday’s killings and many others as avoidable occurrences if adequate support and infrastructure had been provided for the Northeast and military.
The governor said one of the major reasons the insurgency persisted was due to a lack of critical infrastructure like good roads in the region. He said the federal government-owned ministry of works had not constructed or rehabilitated roads in the last 25 years “in Borno State and most parts of the North-east.”
“If the federal can fix the bad roads in Borno and the North-east, the insurgency would be reduced by 60 per cent,” he said.
Earlier the Senate President said his delegation was in the state to commiserate with the people over the gruesome and barbaric killing of the farmers.
He said the president was told that some other farmers in Zabarmari were yet to be accounted for at the time of the visit.
“No efforts will be spared, as the government will do anything and everything until we take the fight against insurgency to their enclaves.
“In this regard, the government will continue to provide resources to our armed forces and other security agencies and also intensify bilateral and multilateral operations with our neighbours, particularly to ensure that the insurgents have nowhere to fight when they are chased out of our country.”
The federal government delegation later paid a visit to the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Elkanemi, who also called for more support from the federal government.
Governor Zulum later led the delegation to the attacked community in Zabarmari where Mr Lawan and his co-visitors met and sympathised with the bereaved villagers.