By Adamu Itodo
Since 2009 when Boko Haram terrorist took up a violent campaign against the state, not many of us thought it would drag till this very time. Not many of us also believed that those politicians that initially seemed to be advancing the case of the people would be the ones taking advantage of the crisis to the detriment of the people of North-East Nigeria.
The situation in Borno state is indeed a sad tale of how politicians have entirely hijacked the system and turned it into a money-making machine. I stand to be corrected, the very day the Boko Haram crisis comes to an end, the politicians in Borno State would relocate from Nigeria because of the way and manner they have exploited the system to their advantage.
While this position has been stated in numerous forums about the activities of Borno politicians and how they have been engaging in acts that would ensure that the crisis in the state does not come to an end, it must be expressly stated that with the position of things, there ought to be some level of connivance or conspiracy between Borno politicians and the Boko Haram group.
It is evident that with the return of peace to Borno state, lots of questions would pop up as regards the usage of funds meant for the people of the state by those who occupied political offices. To put it modestly, since 2009, I doubt if the monies intended for local government areas in Borno state could be accounted for. I also doubt if whatever it is that is on the ground in these local government areas would indeed reflect the quantum of monies that have been released in the past 11 years of the Boko Haram Insurgency in the state.
This, in my opinion, might be responsible for why in some quarters it has been stated that the war against terrorism in Borno state might not come to an end soon because of how the politicians are busy smiling to the bank while the people are cramped in IDP camps all over the state.
This in a way could also explain the hue and cries that usually greets the introduction of new operational strategies by the Nigerian Military in the sense that the end of Boko Haram might be around the corner, and this isn’t always the wish of those politicians that are neck-deep in the embezzlement of the collective wealth of the people.
The question of who is indeed afraid of peace in Borno state can be best answered by the political class that is hell-bent on seeing to the fact that the crisis continues unabated so that they can continue to enrich themselves to the detriment of sustainable growth and development in Borno State.
This is indeed a sad tale and one of the factors why there seems to be some level of resistance to the operations of the Nigerian Military in the state. For one, whenever these merchants of death notice that the Military is gaining grounds in the war against terrorism, they devise means and strategies to thwart such efforts, not minding whose ox is gored.
This is the state of affairs in Borno state today as it stands, and it is such a pity that these individuals would be so mean to the extent of feasting on the blood of innocent people all in the quest for pecuniary gains. They hide under various nomenclatures to siphon monies meant for infrastructural development. They even go as far as embezzling monies earmarked for the resettlement of IDPs back to their host communities. If this is not wickedness, I don’t know what else to call it.
In some quarters, it is also speculated that some Borno politicians have been covertly sponsoring the activities of the Boko Haram sect so that there would be continued instability in the state, which provides that conducive environment for them to continue with their nefarious activities.
This is indeed a serious business endeavour that has cost the state billions of naira. A very good business that yields dividends for as long as bombs continue to detonate and gunshots are heard from near and far. In exact terms, the local government funds are worst hit by the activities of those I have labelled as the Borno merchants of death.
They don’t care about the number of lives that have been lost in this crisis that has engulfed the state. They don’t care about the number of years it would take in rebuilding the state from the present ruins which they are by extension part and parcel of. I dare say for the politicians in Borno state; it is good business and as far as they are concerned nothing in this world, not even the efforts of the Nigeria military should come in between them and their goldmine.
But at some point, they should also remember that nothing stays the same forever. They must come to the realization that monies that were meant for schools and hospitals that they ended up diverting would one day run dry, and the same infrastructures they refused to build might end up being their greatest undoing in the lives of their children and great-grandchildren.
I am, however, consoled by the words Mahatma Gandhi, who stated that our greatest achievements in life are not to change the world but to change ourselves. This words of wisdom by Mahatma Gandhi is directed to the politicians in Borno State because the rational thing for them to do now is to change their ways in the interest of peace in Borno state. This they must understand as a matter of urgency and in the interest of peace and tranquillity.
Itodo is a researcher in conflict resolution and wrote from ATBU, Bauchi.