Nigeria’s VP, Namadi Sambo Declares Oil Drilling Shall Commence In Borno State Within A Year
Nigeria’s VP, Namadi Sambo Declares Federal Government Ready To Dialogue With Boko Harm
It was the first official visit of the Presidency under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to the troubled Borno State since the Boko Haram Islamic sect began its onslaught in 2009.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo who Saturday paid a visit to Maiduguri, Borno State capital, on behalf of the presidency since the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency said the federal government was ready for dialogue with the sect.
The VP said government was exploring the ceasefire declared by Boko Haram and after due consultation would come out with a stand.
Sambo said: “We are happy with the ceasefire, the president has always advocated for dialogue. Even after a long drawn war combatants still come to the roundtable to discuss peace.
“We are happy that this has been achieved in a short time and the federal government is ready for dialogue.”
Boko Haram had last week declared unilateral ceasefire, saying it was now open to dialogue with the federal government.
Two persons who claimed to represent the major faction of Jama’atul Ahalis Sunna Lida’awati Wal Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram, led by Sheikh Abubakar Shekau, addressed a press conference in Maiduguri on January 28, where they announced the ceasefire.
One of them, who identified himself as Sheikh Abu Mohammad Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, the commander of North and Central Borno sector of the sect, said the ceasefire came after meetings with Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima and was declared to end the suffering of the people.
He had said then that the group agreed to put down arms on the condition that its members were freed from prisons.
But a day after the cease-fire was announced, the Joint Military Task Force, backed by helicopter gunships, raided two Boko Haram camps in Borno and killed 17 of their members in gunfights, while one soldier was killed in the clashes on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30.
Information Minister Labaran Maku had said the federal government would watch how the ceasefire declared by Boko Haram is observed before government would accept the offer of dialogue.
Saturday, Sambo also said the federal government was in support of the efforts of the state Governor Shettima to get the sect to agreeing to a ceasefire and government cannot but work hand-in-hand with him to ensure that peace is finally restored to the state and country.
The vice-president claimed the presidency had at no time left the people of Borno to their fate, insisting that the state had always have the deserved attention.
Sambo said: “People want to politicise the issue that the president and myself have not visited Borno, but I must say the state and its people have been in our heart.”
He added: “In fact this visit should have been made a month earlier but due to the exigencies of office, but here we are today, God’s time is the best.”
He told the people of the state that he brought them condolences of President Jonathan, stressing, “he directed me to come and commiserate with those that have lost their lives and property in Borno.”
The vice-president also said he brought the condolence of the president to the Shehu of Borno on whose life an attempt was made by Boko Haram and to victims of last year’s flood in the state, whom he promised federal government’s assistance.
Sambo equally promised the people that oil exploration would soon start in the state, noting that $75 million was spent on the exploratory study last year alone and $100 million has been budgeted for the same purpose this year.
The vice-president disclosed that three oil blocks had been found in the state and that before the end of this year or during the first quarter of next year, drilling of oil would begin in the state.
According to Sambo, government will need to spend $10 billion on regenerating the receding Lake Chad even as he said $5 billion has been spent so far on consultancy on the receding work on the lake.
The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Ibn Garbai El-Kanemi and Shettima had after Sambo had commissioned some projects during the visit including roads, hospital and housing projects brought the demands of the people of the state to his attention.
Among the demands are federal government’s assistance on oil exploration and Lake Chad Basin, improvement of National grid and security at the borders.
While in the state the vice-president also had a closed-door meeting with Borno elders where he is believed to have also discussed the Boko Haram offer of dialogue.
In a statement last night by his Senior Special Assistant on Media Umaru Sani, the vice-president said President Jonathan is committed to ensuring that total peace and normalcy is restored in Borno State.
According to him, Sambo stated this at the Government House, Maiduguri when he paid a courtesy call on Shettima.
Sambo expressed delight with the improved security situation in the state commending the efforts and resilience of the state government, its people and the security agencies on the achievement.
“Borno State is noted for tranquility and peaceful co-existence. We are glad to note that life is gradually returning to normalcy. I want to seize this opportunity to assure you that we hold all our brothers and sisters in Borno State with high esteem,” Sambo said.
He also condoled with the people of Borno over the loss off lives and property due to the unfortunate incidences, while also commiserating with the victims of last year’s flood disaster.
“With the current efforts of the government and good people of Borno State to broker peace and to ensure peaceful co-existence, I assure you that the Federal Government is consulting on the best approach to the peace process.
“We are happy with this development and we are glad that the cease-fire offer is coming at a time when all hands must be on deck to address safety and security challenges toward a peaceful and prosperous nation,” he added.
Sambo urged the people of Borno to continue to support President Jonathan administration in its quest to deliver on the laudable programmes contained in the Transformation Agenda.
He enumerated several projects being executed by the Federal Government to improve the socio-economic status of the people of Borno, which cut across power supply, agriculture, transportation, education, arresting desertification and exploration of hydrocarbon in the Lake Chad Basin.
Shettima who was excited by the visit commended the efforts of the federal government at restoring peace in the state.
He attributed the security challenges in the state to poverty and social exclusivity.
Highlights of the visit were the commissioning by the vice president of projects, which included 144 heavy-duty trucks, four kilometer Maduganari Bye-pass and Muhammed Shuwa Memorial Hospital.
Sambo also laid the foundation of Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno Teachers Village.
Meanwhile, the people of Maiduguri had a bitter experience of having the vice-president in their midst as they were prevented from going out on the streets by stern-looking policemen and soldiers while the visit lasted.