Schools in southern Borno faring well despite security challenges —Stephen

How are schools coping in your constituency in the midst of security challenges?
First, it will be good to understand that the issue of insecurity is a global phenomenon, and our state is not an exception. But to the glory of God, despite the security challenges, the level of school enrolment keeps increasing in my constituency and this is due to the fact that we don’t have any other preoccupation other than education. That is what our people in Hawul and even Southern Borno in general are known for. I mean our parents and fore-parents were brought up to appreciate education. As I am talking to you right now, there are community primary and secondary schools that are being constructed through the efforts of people in communities – all they need is our support, because they don’t always have to wait for government before their children get education. So as you can see, we don’t have problems related to insecurity that hampers the zeal we have for education. Despite the challenges and threats, parents are still willing to send their wards to school. It is a must for you to send your child to school in southern Borno; it is a policy deliberately created long ago by our people that every child must, at least, attain a certain level of education. Let me inform you that one of the reasons for successes of education in southern Borno is the kind of foundation our parents laid.
The Borno State government has introduced a policy of giving monthly stipend to any parent in the educationally –backward northern part of the state, who enrolls his or her child in school as encouragement. Did you make any case for similar gesture for your people in southern part of Borno State?  
Like I told you, we are already over stretched in terms of school enrolment in most parts of southern Borno and, especially, my local government, Hawul – what we need here is the infrastructure. We don’t need to pay anybody to enroll his child in school. No, we don’t, because we have long appreciated the values of education and we have been holding onto it tenaciously. So instead of waiting for government to give us stipend because our children are in school, all we need to do is to encourage government to help us with more schools and classrooms so that our pupils and students alike can have a better learning environment. The people are there and they are ever willing to learn and be educated.
As a legislator, what did you do to attract the attention of the state government to your area in terms of provision of infrastructures to support learning?
The job of a state lawmaker, just like any other, is all about legislation, though people tend to misconceive a legislator’s duty with that of the executive. As legislators, we are part of a system called government, and we work in synergy with the executive and even the judiciary to provide development for the common good of the citizens in the state and the country at large. But the politics now is for you to be able to succeed as a legislator and be able to lobby or legislate for democracy dividends to your constituents; you must be in good working relationship with the executive in the state to achieve this. That is why today I am a happy man and proud to say I lobbied for the building of Government Secondary school, Marama, Government Secondary School, Sakwa, and then Government Secondary School, Shaffa and Kwajaffa. These are alongside a list of other primary schools that are either built or renovated by the Universal Basic Education Board.
If a state legislator, as you mentioned, must have a cordial working relationship with the executive just to get democratic dividends to his people, does that give credence to the insinuations in town that Borno House of Assembly has been a rubber-stamp of the executive?   
The truth is that government is not all about confrontation amongst the three tiers. I think even in the definition of government, there is no word confrontation there; all arms of government have to work in synergy in order to achieve a common goal for the people they are meant to serve. So it is not all about fighting. We in Borno State are very lucky that we have a listening governor, who is willing to work for his people. Once you are able to approach him with anything that is developmental and beneficial to the people of the state, he will always gladly give his approval. Of course, you can confront a governor or even fight him when such a governor is not willing to do the right thing for the people. But it is not even in the character of Governor Shettima to turn down any good initiative advanced to him by the House of Assembly or any other stakeholder in the state.
There are allegations of poor implementation of projects in Borno State in the last three years, what is your take on this?
Thank you so much for this question, because I have long yearned to lend my voice on this issue. The truth is that we just have to give due credits to Governor Kashim Shettima because nobody under this circumstances in Borno State can easily achieve what this governor has achieved. We all know what is happening here; the unfortunate thing is that despite this situation in Borno, the federal government has not been supporting us. Yet this man here (Shettima) judiciously utilises the meagre resources at his disposal to do his best in trying to bring back peace, and even sustaining the military formations deployed here by the federal government to curb the insurgency. It is obvious that our main problem in Borno State is not the amount of projects you put up, but security! I think it is high time we gave kudos to Shettima for steering the affairs of the state all these years, despite the daunting challenges of insecurity. There are other states in parts of Nigeria where there is peace and yet the governors there cannot even boast of what Shettima is doing here. And throughout this period, the governors has never shied away from visiting any part of Borno State where there is a problem to either address the issue or commiserate with the people, even at times when it seemed dangerous and unsafe for him to do so. One thing we must appreciate is that there can never be any development without peace; but despite that the governor still strives to see that he measures up, even when he had the excuses of not performing by hiding under the guise of insecurity. People should not go accusing government of poor implementation of projects when if given the opportunity, they would not have done better. We can’t have budget for insurgency, because no one plans or hopes for it; even if you plan ahead of any unforeseen circumstance, you cannot predict the magnitude of the insurgency. As far as we are concerned in the state assembly, the governor has been doing well, given the circumstances that we find ourselves… So when you say poor implementation of project, I don’t think that is being referred to Borno State.
What is the way out of this Boko Haram insurgency?
There is nothing I would have said or advised that has not been done in the fight to curb the ongoing insurgency. But what we must do for now is to be firm in prayers so that God will have mercy on us and touch the hearts of those behind this. Other measures like improving quality of education, addressing poverty and joblessness would work out fine in the long run. But presently, we need prayers so that God will touch the perpetrators of these evils to repent because they had long crossed the Rubicon. We also have to call on God for His mercies upon those innocent poor girls  they have abducted so that harm do not befall them where ever they are now, because that is the worst of it all – kidnapping little girls and taking them into the jungle. Only God can answer our prayers.



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