Boko Haram: Zulum and the new direction for peace in Borno State

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By Richard Murphy  

It was American author and philosopher, John Fuhrman who once stated that “Successful leadership comes from the willingness to, at first, do something incorrectly, face the consequences, make adjustments, and do it again – until you get it right.”

Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, as a good leader, has demonstrated a belief in dynamic leadership that learns from experience and brings out the better in him.
The governor may not have heard of the Fuhrman philosophy but going by the current cooperation he is giving the Nigerian military it could be said that Zulum may have decided to make adjustment to his earlier stance in order to bring quality leadership to his people.

Those who did not understand the dynamics of leadership had thought that going by the comments of the Borno governor on the military in the past, that he is one who sees nothing good in the institution and would always prefer to confront the military.

The governor had on few occasions challenged the military in what many have interpreted as his disposition to antagonize the institution. 
He had for instance accosted military men on check point  duties in Maiduguri in January and accused them of extorting commuters.
He also accused troops of abandoning the people and fleeing when there was an attack on Auno, near Maiduguri.

The height of it all was when he blamed the attack on his convoy on the military and threatened that after Sallah that he is going back to Kukawa and that if the military are not ready that he will use hunters to recapture Baga.

But lately,  the governor has shown remorse for his hot air vituperations on the military and has been accommodating and extending hands of cooperation with the troops.
His words at the Nigerian Army University Biu launching of the Buratai Centre at Buratai was captivating enough to show that he is a dynamic leader who wants to solve problems.
He was bold as a leader to apologize to the military at that occasion and even went ahead to praise their efforts. 

Zulum on another occasion at Ajiri village of Mafa Local Government Area while addressing hundreds of the newly returned IDPs,  called on unrepentant members of Boko Haram to lay down their arms saying  his government is doing everything possible to return all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their ancestral homes. The governor said the Boko Haram members should know that the IDPs who have returned or willing to return to their communities are directly or indirectly parents or relations of the insurgents that are eager to pick up their pieces and continue their normal lives.

He said, “I am using this medium to call on Boko Haram sect to lay down their arms for peace to reign in our dear state and the country at large.
“I am appealing to all of you to continue pray for the restoration of peace and cooperate with the security agencies in the fight against terrorism.” By these submissions, the governor can be said to be charting a new course for peace in Borno State.

His call on the terrorists to surrender and lay down their arms for peace to return is one of the ways experts have suggested for peace to return to the troubled state. This is because, as troops engage the insurgents in combat, there is the need to appeal to their senses of reasoning and persuade and convince the youths about the stupidity of their actions by people they know and respect. 

This is a genuine call that must be matched by actions and all the stakeholders in Borno State must come together to support him. 
The truth is, if every family in Borno State is calling their own to order and every elite in Abuja is calling out the terrorists, while every stakeholder is denouncing the terrorists as the governor has done, it will mark the end of the terrorists as they will also know that  Borno like other states in the Northeast east is no longer available for their evil ways. 

Experts have posited that once the terrorists are ideologically disarmed, the citizens will see the need to support the military and in less than no time the war would end. As the governor now accepts that the military is working and commends their efforts, it is sure bet that they will be encouraged to do more.

This is preferable to the earlier position of the governor that seeks to undermine their efforts. To be sincere, the military has given much to Borno that they deserve nothing less.

Between April and July this year, the military liquidated over 2,000 of the insurgents including not less than 20 of their top commanders while many of their informants were arrested. 
The military also made many of the terrorists to surrender and lay down their arms having come under superior fire power.

The efforts and sacrifice of the military since the insurgency began in 2009, cannot be over emphasized. The military since the coming of the current administration has been able to overrun the operational base of the Boko Haram terrorists at Sambisa forest and recaptured not less than 11 local councils in Borno State alone.

 The Nigerian military has made it possible for many IDPs to return to their communities and open up roads that were hitherto made too dangerous to travel on by the insurgents such that between 2015 and 2018 people do not need to cross check before setting out on any journey within or outside the state .

The Nigerian military had this year also been able to ward off attacks in so many locations in the state including the latest attempt to penetrate Maiduguri, the state capital. This is apart from the many interventions on the socio economic sphere like the building of universities. 

Of no less significance, is the call by the Borno State Governor on the terrorists to surrender. This is a big initiaitve coming from the governor as it would send the right signal to the insurgents that the political class that they are wary of is ready to accept them. This is Something that the political class in Borno have failed to do over many years ago. 
As Zulum has taken that initiative, it is not too late for others to follow as that would complement what the military is doing .

All Borno and Zulum’s kinsmen that want to support his administration must wake up to this call made by Zulum. They must support the Governor as he leads this politico-diplomacy engagement to end of Boko Haram in not only Borno State, but Nigeria as a whole.

Murphy is a security expert and wrote from Calabar.

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