Borno State is obviously challenged by insecurity. How do you assess the situation?
I came into the state last year at a time when there was a relative peace, and the peace has continued to improve.
Which areas do you think the state government needs to improve in order to impact positively on the lives of the people, especially the vulnerable groups?
Let everybody work for peace; let us understand that something has gone wrong; we need to stop shifting blames. Let us identify where the problem lies and solve it. And to the insurgents, we must appeal to them to lay down their arms because killing and destruction of properties is not the ideal thing; they must join us in the path of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. I also appeal to people who might have been hurt in the course of this insurgency to forgive, let us put behind what has happened and let us forge ahead. Without forgiveness, we can never progress. When we talk about peace, we are not talking about religion. In Islam they say ‘Asallamalaikum’. In Christianity we say ‘Peace be unto you’. What does that suggest to us? And in Judaism they say ‘Shalom’ which is peace; so peace is a concept of life and not something which is limited to religion. Even as a Muslim, if you say ‘Assalamalaikum’, it is not only to your fellow Muslims; it is to anybody you see around you that such person should have peace, meaning you are praying for that person to have peace and you want him to exist. So in these religions, peace is very important, and, honesty, I must tell you that I was really impressed when I came to Borno and I saw Muslims and Christians going to the same polling stations, recreation centres, markets; we use the same highways, weeat food in the same restaurants, we use the same hotels, banks, we do almost everything together. And so, how can you wake up and tell me that Borno is not peaceful?
This state was a peaceful state until 2009 or thereabouts when the issue of Boko Haram came up; so let us identify that something has gone wrong and let us address the problem irrespective of religion, ethnic or political inclination. When you go into history, the first three places of worship that were burnt were churches. And the last three places that were burnt were mosques. This insurgency crisis affected both Muslims and Christians. It is something that has come to disorganize us, and we should understand that and try to resolve it collectively.
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