By Abdulkareem Haruna
The Speaker of Borno state House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan, has called on the federal government and the military to salvage two local government areas of the state from the control of Boko Haram insurgents.
The local government areas are Guzamala and Kukawa local government areas in the northern senatorial zone of the state.
The speaker is from Guzamala local government, an area he has been representing for nearly 20 years. Guzamala shares close boundaries with Kukawa local government area.
Speaking with Humanitarian Times after the recent budget presentation by the Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum, Speaker Lawan said his constituency has persistently been left out of the scheme of things for the past three years. He worried that budgetary provisions for the state government projects don’t capture the needs of his local government area and others like Kukawa due to lack of access.
“There is no peace in Guzamala local government because no there is still no civilian or military presence there.
“I have consistently pleaded to the federal government to deploy security there so that the civil population can return there. This situation is not restricted to my local government alone. The situation applies in Kukawa local government as well.
“The state government had relocated the IDPs from Kukawa back to their community, but the place remains a no-go area for public officers like me or even the local government chairman and his councilors.
“The military is not protecting the civilians there. We don’t know what is going on there in Kukawa local government because there is no access there since the civilians were returned. That’s why we keep calling on the FG and the military to consider the safety of Nigerians there, and provide security to these people.”
He said the situation in Kukawa is slightly different from that of Guzamala, a constituency he has not been able to enter for many years due to insecurity.
“In the case of Guzamala, there hasn’t been a single military presence in the entire geographical area of the local government,” he noted.
“This means the local government is still under the control of Boko Haram! The local government headquarters is deserted, no sane human being lives there, because the entire place is being controlled by Boko Haram.
The Speaker recalls that last year, the Governor of Borno state, Babagana Zulum inaugurated a committee on the reconstruction and resettlement of Guzamala people to safe locations – Gudumbali and Mailari villages within the LGA. But due to lack of security in the general area, the committee has not been able to access the places.
“What we are saying is that two local government headquarters – Gudumbali and Kukawa towns are no-go areas for civic activities because Boko Haram are in control, and this should worry the federal government,” he said.
“We the people from those local government areas are being affected by this set back because we have been left out for many years in the massive development projects that the state government has been deploying to other local government areas. These two LGs have received nearly zero developmental projects under the able leadership of His Excellency Professor Babagana Zulum in the last three and half years.
“Okay, for example, His Excellency said during the presentation of the 2023 budget that township roads construction would be carried out in local governments like Monguno, Nganzai and Hawul among others, but places like Guzamala and Kukawa are not listed due to lack of security. This is affecting us adversely and it tells more on what the future would look like for us even when the insurgency finally comes to an end.
He said the federal government has to be worried by this negative development in two of the 773 local government areas that make up the country called Nigeria.
“We need permanent security presence in these hotbeds of Boko Haram; we hear the military setting up super camps and forwards operational bases in various locals of Borno state and other states of the northeast that have security challenges; but ours is worse and we don’t understand why that is not being considered for us.
“I feel sad that the situation has not been improving security wise in these locations. In 2015 we conducted elections partly in IDP camps, and in 2019 all electoral wards of Guzamala had their polling units in IDP camps, and sadly the same thing may likely be the case for us going into the 2023 election because we don’t even know where we are going to cast our votes because more than ever before our electorate are scattered everywhere now. Some are camping in Monguno local government, some in Nganzai, some in Maiduguri and many in Niger Republic. If you ask me I’ll say we don’t know exactly where we are to conduct our elections because there is no specific location where we can say this is where the people of Guzamala are being camped.”