Govt Economical With The Truth In Insurgency Fight- Gabassa

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  • Against the background of conflicting positions on the
    true situation of the fight against Boko Haram in the
    North East; MBURSA GABASSA; Deputy Chairman of the
    Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Borno State, believes
    that, while the Federal Government may have genuine
    intentions towards ending the mayhem, the Borno State
    Government is deliberately shielding it from the truth for
    obvious political reasons. He spoke with nationalTRAIL
    editors in Abuja. Excerpts:

 

MBURSA GABASSABriefly sir, may
we know you?
My name
is Mbursa
Gabassa, a
town planner by training;
I worked with the FCDA
before retiring to join
politics. I am currently
the Deputy Chairman of
the Peoples Democratic
Party, PDP in Borno State.
I am from Gwoza Local
Government Area, one of
the areas worst affected by
Boko Haram in Southern
Borno. Greater numbers
of my people are today
displaced, including my
own mother who stays
with me.
Insecurity and the
economy are the biggest
twin problems of
government, which of
them takes precedence in
your view?
Security is paramount in
everything. The economy
may be the superstructure,
but security is the
guarantee for its success
or failure. Under the
present circumstances,
every Nigerian will tell
you that our greatest
headache remains
insecurity, whether Boko
Haram, Biafran struggles,
Niger Delta Militancy,
Kidnapping, political
assassination, rape or arm
robbery. They are inter
related in term s of how
they affect our lives as a
nation. For me, security
is first, security is second
and security is third until
people can go to their
beds and sleep with both
eyes closed, the main
concern is security. You
have to be alive to talk
about the economy, but
you can be poor and still
seek to remain alive.
We understand your
area was amongst those
worst hit by Boko Haram,
what is the situation now?
Well, the situation has
not changed much from
the time we were displaced.
The Government says
they are on top of the
situation, and they went
and brought back some
of our people from the
IDP camps in Yola, and
they are living there. The
truth is that, the peace
that they say has returned
to Gwoza is the peace of
the grave yard, so to say.
Here are people brought
back to the town against
their wishes, and living in
constant fear as Gwoza is
still surrounded by Boko
Haram terrorists. From
the hilltops of Mandara
down to Limankara there
are routes directly linking
Sambissa, and we know
that they follow these
routes and attack villages
in the process. They are
still visible and still cause
problems once in a while
in Gwoza East, behind the
hill, in Barawa, Ngoshe,
Wara, Arboku and other
places that soldiers
don’t go. Gwoza town
in particular is highly
militarized as you see
soldiers everywhere, but
we are not oblivious of
the fact that Boko Haram
still lurks in the dark all
around d us, and it only
takes a small walk away
from the soldiers for
one to be either killed or
captured by Boko Haram.
Unfortunately nobody
talks about us, all the
noise you hear is as if it
is only the northern and
central parts of Borno
that are affected. Let me
place it on record that, in
the southern part, Gwoza
is virtually empty, as even
those who are there are
virtually hostages, Chibok
has been virtually sacked,
Damboa is a ghost of its
former self, Askira /Uba
has been scattered, parts
of Hawul is still under
siege, and people only
talk about the north and
the central as if our own
people are sub humans.
We have been watching
the governor, Kashim
Shettima speaking always
about his own people at
the neglect of the people
of the south. We take
exception to some of the
comments of his Special
Adviser on Press affairs,
one Isa Gusau, who does
not seem to understand
what is going on, because
he is not from the state.
He talks as if he is drunk
or is concerned with the
welfare of the people
of his paymaster. All
these are politics. The
Governor and his people
have been deceiving the
President that is why
the president sometimes
makes statements that do
not reflect the realities on
ground. Let me tell you,
that, that Senator who
said Boko Haram is still
everywhere was telling
the truth. The Governor
denied him because of
political considerations,
if not, that was the truth.
The senator is Governor
Kashim Shettima’s friend,
and they are always
together, so how can
he say what the senator
spoke was not what he had
in mind? He merely made
a u-turn when he realized
that the President or the
Military will be angrier
with him than they have
been before, so he decided
to disown the senator. All
these are politics and we
know the truth. If Boko
Haram are not there,
where did the attacks on
Dalori, Chibok, Dikwa,
Mafa, Beneshiek and other
surrounding villages to
Maiduguri coming from.
They are only playing
politics with the issue
and they are succeeding
in diverting attention
from the truth. Too much
politics is affecting the
war against Boko Haram
and they know it and yet
they don’t want to do
anything.
What is your take on the
conflicting claims about
Boko Haram by people in
the same Government?
There is no sincerity
amongst them and that
is why they contradict
themselves. The President
should look beyond the
statements credited to the
senator and the reactions
of the governor. It looks
curious to me that people
who are hardly separated
could disagree on the same
issue, knowing the truth
to be hidden between
their two positions.
Nigerians are being taken
for a ride, but those of
us who know the truth
cannot be fooled. We may
not be listened to, but we
are being ignored at a very
high cost. There may be
no more flags hoisted on
poles, but that does not
mean they are gone, they
are still lurking around.
They removed the flags
for strategic reasons,
and it is a matter of time
before you hear them
again. I may be wrong,
but what I know and what
I hear are different from
what the Government is
saying. Why can’t we even
ask ourselves this simple
question, like, Why can’t
one drive from Mubi
through Gwoza passing
Bama into Maiduguri if all
these areas are liberated?
Why are the roads leading
to Damboa, Chibok and
Biu form Maiduguri
still blocked if Damboa
and chibk have been
liberated? Again why is
the route from Maiduguri
to Gamboru Ngala or
Maiduguri to Mobar still
closed if Boko Haram
have been pushed back? I
think Government should
do more action and less
talk, and stop playing
politics with the issue of
Boko Haram if we hope to
get out of the problem.
How do you think the
Government should go
about the issue?
You see, there is no
sincerity in saying
everything is ok when
we know it is not true.
The President should
stop believing what the
Borno state Government
is telling him, if he
hopes to deal with Boko
Haram. They are not
telling him the truth,
because there is too much
politics associated with
their position. They just
want to attract financial
patronage and donations
from across the world in
the name of resettlement
or reconstruction. They
have never planned for
the matter to end, and
they seem to be dragging
the federal Government
along in this journey of
deception. They have
never properly utilized
all the money they got for
the people, most of it is
going into their pockets.
They are playing pure
politics with the lives of
people. How can they say
everything is ok when
they know it is not so. I
have always used Gwoza
and Chibok because
Boko Haram have been
attacking these places
and nobody is talkin g
about it. As we speak, you
cannot go to Talala from
Chibok, or Mbulakuduka
or Yimirkila or any of the
areas that were bubbling
with life before, because
Boko Haram are still there
surrounding these places.
It is sad that, when things
happen in Maiduguri,
Bama, Konduga, Dalori,
Dikwa, Mafa or any area
in the North or South, so
much noise is made and
prompt attention is paid,
but when it happens in
any area in the south, they
are being deliberately
suppressed for political
reasons? May be because
they perceive the South
as being a PDP area.
There were incidents
that did not reach what
have been happening in
the south, but because
they are in the north or
central, politicians and
government officials
fly in from all over and
sympathize and make
donations for the upkeep
of victims. We never saw
it happening in any of our
areas, because we do not
belong perhaps. A first
class emir from southern
Borno was killed by
Boko Haram, besides so
many prominent people.
Villages were razed
down; take the example
of Kimba, in Biu Local
Government, and other
villages in Hawul and
Askira/ Uba, yet nobody
gave us a mention when
it comes to resettlement
or reconstruction. We
have been left at the
mercy of God. We are
proud that inspite of
all that happened our
emirs remained with the
people, for example, the
emirs of Biu and Shani did
not go anywhere outside
their palaces, they stayed
back with their people
and we are proud of that.
All others have relocated
to Maiduguri.
What would a PDP
Government have done
differently in the current
circumstances in Borno
State, since the matter is
political?
The issue is not whether
APC or PDP, the matter
is about human lives that
are being toyed with. We
have good people with
conscience in the PDP
that cannot do what this
Governor is doing. I
cannot imagine being a
party to stealing money
meant for unfortunate
victims of disaster. I
cannot be telling lies
to the Government at
the center, knowing
that there is the need
for synergy to end the
sufferings of people.
We cannot be seen to be
aiding the retrogression
of our own state and our
own people into more
than thirty years of under
development. I know that
a PDP Government could
have done better. But the
matter is beyond party
considerations. Even the
stigma of being regarded
as Boko Haram by fellow
Nigerians is enough to
push the average Borno
person to strive towards
ending the crisis. We have
a situation where they
seem to take pleasure
in what is happening.
We must work towards
peace and everything
else will follow. I tell you
the eyes of the president
will open one day and
he will see the realities
on ground, For now, we
can only pray that god
gives him the wisdom
to differentiate between
truth and falsehood.
What hopes do you
have of giving the people
better programmes in
Borno when the PDP
does not seem to be on
ground?
We had the opportunity
to take over the state
during the last elections,
but we had some moles
amongst us who sold
out. We had a candidate
that was coasting home
to victory only for some
people to be sponsored
using the judiciary to
scuttle our chances. You
can imagine getting your
candidate substituted
with only ten days to an
election. In any case, what
took place in Borno was
not an election. There
is no word in political
lexicon to define what
took place, as people just
conspired and cooked
up figures, and because
there was an intra party
conspiracy, everything
went on unchallenged
to date. We have learnt
our lessons and we know
those to avoid next
time we go out. You can
imagine the candidate of
your party driving to the
government house in a
convoy to congratulate
his supposed opponent in
an election. No wonder,
some people nearly beat
up some of our candidates
for being sell outs. To
be frank with you, we
knew that candidate that
was eventually foisted
on us was not going
anywhere because he was
compromised. It was not
surprising that he fizzled
out immediately the
election ended and the
eventual senatorial bye
election was a testimony
to our efficacy, even with
what happened in 2015.
Given the crisis in
the PDP, do you think
the PDP can revive and
make impact by 2019?
I remain confident
that we shall overcome
the present challenges.
It is not only the PDP
that has problems, APC
is also having crisis. Let
me tell you that most
of the people you see
parading themselves as
APC, they are actually
PDP and they will return
at the appropriate time. I
assure you the PDP will
bounce back.
What is your take on
the agitation for power to
rotate in Borno, so that
the southern part which
has never produced a
governor could have a
shot at the governorship?
I am an advocate of
equality and justice and I
believe that our brothers
from the other zones
will support somebody
from Southern Borno in
2019. We are all one, and
it is just and fair that all
sections have a shot at
the Governorship. We
are in times of changes
nad we need to embrace
that in Borno so that our
bond of brotherhood will
be further strengthened
when all sections are seen
to be equal and enjoy
equal opportunities. We
are hopeful and we shall
continue to push for it to
happen. It has happened
in Koigi recently, it has
happened in Nasarawa
and it can happen in
Borno God willing.
All that we need to do
is to close ran ks and
appeal for reason and
conscience

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