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Shettima Visits Jonathan, Blasts Okupe

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima

For the second time in about 48 hours, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State on Wednesday met with President Goodluck Jonathan over Boko Haram attacks in his state.

Shettima told State House correspondents that he was at the Presidential Villa to update Jonathan on a fresh attack that took place in Bama on Wednesday.

The governor said although he had briefed the President on the development, he had yet to get the actual casualty figure.

“There was an attack on Bama. We have yet to get the actual number of casualties but I am told they have inflicted a lot of damage on the town,” he said.

Shettima declined to react to a comment by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, that the military was winning the war against Boko Haram insurgents when he spoke with State House correspondents in Abuja.

“I don’t want to comment on what he(Okupe) said,” the governor said, adding that his purpose in the Villa was “ to update the President on the goings-on in Bama.”

But he later reacted to Okupe through a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Mallam Isa Gusau. In the statement, Shettima noted that it was unfortunate that Okupe disregarded “the sensitivity of a highly traumatic people for no other reason but cheap goal of showing he is working.”

Okupe had faulted the governor’s claim on Monday that Boko Haram members were better armed and motivated than Nigerian soldiers battling to end insurgency in the North-East.

When asked why he would be meeting the President for the second time within 48 hours if he was not summoned, Shettima said, “Do I need your consent to come and see my President? He is the President of Nigeria and I need to update him adequately on the goings-on in my state.

“I came on my own. He is the President of Nigeria for God’s sake. Why can’t I come and update him? Is it wrong or is it a crime to do so?”

In the statement by Gusau, Shettima said it was an irony that while Okupe didn’t find the senseless killing of over 300 innocent Nigerians by the Boko Haram in February alone worthy of a press briefing, he found it urgent and convenient to attack an honest opinion expressed by him.

Gusau noted that the governor’s honest remark was a case of “one who wears the shoes knows where they pinch.”

According to him, most people can testify that he had over the years been very diplomatic, but has had to open up for Nigerians to appreciate the situation on ground.

The statement reads in part, “A leader must be bold enough to tell the truth so that solutions can be found to critical situations.

“Dr. Okupe should kindly note that; if he is finding a governor to drive any rift with the Presidency, he has not found one in Shettima, because those who know him (Shettima) know him to be honest, courageous, respectful, humble but also dogged.”

It added that the governor was optimistic that with continued commitment through sustained deployment of the right military resources and men, the Boko Haram insurgency would end.

Shettima’s counterpart in Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, the Northern Elders Forum, and the All Progressives Congress, also berated Okupe, for making false claims over the battle against the Boko Haram terrorists.

Nyako, through his Director, Press and Public Affairs, Mallam Ahmad Sajoh, said judging from Okupe’s comments, it was now clear that he and his employer knew very little about the nation they claim to be administering.

According to him, Shettima knew exactly what he was talking about.

He said, “They (insurgents) struck in Konduga for four hours in broad daylight on a market day. To tell you that the insurgents are organised, after the attack in Konduga, they went to the Girls’ Secondary School and carried some girls.

“You cannot tell me that they have been dislodged and that they are operating from remote villages. Konduga is not anywhere near Goza Hills, he (Okupe) is lying, it is nowhere near Goza Hills.”

Spokesperson for the NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, also backed Shettima’s comment, saying that the war at hand was unconventional.

He said, “The governor is right; this kind of war cannot be won using conventional tactics. Those denying it are denying it for public consumption.

“The point is that the governor is right. He also talked of motivation. In a war situation, there are two factors to consider: your reason for going to war and the weapons to fight the war.

“The governor is right by saying the insurgents appear more committed to their cause than we on this side and they are also able to procure equipment which our conventional army has been unable to match.”

In a similar vein, the APC asked the Presidency to stop being unnecessarily defensive and concentrate on providing the military with all the requirements to defeat the insurgents.

The party, in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described as counter-productive, unwarranted and ill-advised, the not-so-subtle attack on Shettima by Okupe for simply stating the obvious.

It noted that it was aware that several of the Presidency’s attack dogs needed to face the klieg lights time and again to justify the huge taxpayers’ fund being expended on them.

It said the truth was that they ridiculed no one but themselves and the Presidency whenever they had to bark at the victims of the deadly Boko Haram attacks from the comfort of their offices in Abuja.

Source: Punch

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