From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna
Barring any dying-minute change of heart, the House of Representatives will soon conclude its plan to hold a special session in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as part of the lower chamber’s effort to restore peace to the troubled state, and to show the people of the North-East region that it shares in their grief and also sympathise with their present predicament, Saturday Sun can authoritatively reveal.
The move, Saturday Sun gathered, was more like a fall back position, suggested to Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, which he also bought into, following several failed attempts to visit Borno and Yobe States, in the wake of the insurgency, particularly in Borno State, since 2009. Saturday Sun recalls that apart from the incumbent National Security Adviser, NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), no other senior government official or political office holder, from the north and beyond, has ever visited Borno, regarded as the hot bed of Boko Haram.
But once the group launched its first major attack on the ancient city of Kano, early this year, from the President, to the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, prominent officials of the Federal Government, all took their turns to visit the state, to assess the level of damage and to sympathise with the people and government of Kano State, a thing that has since made the government and people of the state conclude that it was being given a “step-child treatment,” either because it is in the opposition or it is no longer part of the larger entity, called Nigeria.
Both Borno and Yobe are being governed by leaders, elected on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. “Now if Jonathan has abandoned us, why should the Speaker, who showed early enough in the life of this administration that he was going to be a pro-people leader, do the same? Apart from the fact that he is number four in terms of hierarchy, he is a northerner. So, he shouldn’t have abandoned us,” a senior government official from one of the north-eastern states queried.
Reminded that the Senate President, David Mark, who is the number three, is also a northerner, the government official said: “We can pardon him, because he is from the Middle Belt. But Tambuwal is from Sokoto. Sokoto, what you people in the media want to refer to as far north. So, there is no excuse, except of course if they are saying we are no longer part of Nigeria” the government official added.
Sources close to the Speaker’s office, however, told Saturday Sun that it would not be right to conclude that the House and the Speaker have abandoned the people and government of Borno. One of them, a serving lawmaker disclosed that but for the “so-called security report” the Speaker would have since visited Borno and Yobe states. “Look, I know that the Speaker made attempts to visit Borno. But each time he prepares to go, they will say the security report is not favourable.
And you know these are dangerous times. If he ignores the security report, those from where the report emanated decide to stage-manage the situation and something drastic happens, I am sure you will be among those that will blame the Speaker for ignoring the report, whether it is true or false,” one of the sources said.
Another National Assembly source said: “I am aware that there was a time we set out to go by road. We were just leaving Kano when we got information that attacks were going on in Potiskum, this was shortly after the attack on the cattle market in the area.