Stories from TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri
Vice President Namadi Sambo yesterday in Maiduguri said neither the Federal Government nor President Goodluck Jonathan hated the government and people of Borno as being speculated because of political differences, noting that the president could not visit the state to identify with the people in their critical period of Boko Haram insurgents due to exigencies of office.
Speaking during a visit to the Shehu of Borno as part of the activities marking his one-day official visit to the state, Sambo accused politicians of politicizing the president’s failure to visit the state especially since the president and vice president toured flood ravaged states last year. He said the Federal Government was concerned about thousands of lost to Boko Haram insurgency.
Some elders of Borno under the auspices of Borno Elders Forum led by the country’s first petroleum minister and elder statesman, Shettima Ali Monguno and the Borno State government through its information commissioner had accused the president of being incentive to the plight of Borno over the insecurity and flood disaster, saying the state and its people were neglected and abandoned by the Federal Government.
But Sambo yesterday said rather the exigencies of office had delayed the president from visiting the state, which has been ravaged by persistent bombing and killing by the Islamic sect. “We are part and parcel of Borno. The president does not hate Borno people for whatever reason and the inability of the president not to visit you is not an issue of politics.
We are proud of Borno people and we identify with them at this critical period; we hold Borno dearly not because of its historical relevance but due to its strategic importance to national development. This visit was supposed to be last month but I couldn’t make it but I’m here now, that’s the way God wants it,” the VP said. He also disclosed that the FG spent $75 million US dollar on oil prospecting in the Chad area of the state. He added that the president had approved another sum of US$100 million for oil exploration this year.
He said already three oil blocks have been discovered even as he expressed hope that full exploration would soon kick off. The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai El-Kannemi had earlier in his address urged the Federal Government to accept the cease-fire offered by Boko Haram with honest intent, stressing that Borno people have suffered enough.
The Shehu also appealed to the Federal Government to extend national grid to the northern part of the state. He said it was sad that a vast area that shares borders with two African nations do no enjoy the benefit of basic social amenities while communities in the neighbouring nations were serviced by their countries. Meanwhile, social and economic activities were grounded in Maiduguri yesterday as residents were barred by security agencies from going to markets, business premises and other economic centres due to unannounced restriction on movement of people on the major roads and highways in the metropolis.
There was heavy presence of military personnel, police, SSS and other security agencies while armoured tanks were stationed at strategic locations.