Borno Gov Convenes Commissioner’s Retreat In Damasak, Boko Haram Enclave

…..Reclaimed Boko Haram ‘Caliphate’

‎…’Why I Chose Uncomfortable Venue For Our Retreat’,  Zulum Explains

Borno’s Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum is currently chairing his administration’s first retreat for commissioners, special advisers and more senior government officials like the secretary to the state government, head of service and chief of staff in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area in northern Borno State, which has remained a shadow of Itself since it was occupied by Boko Haram as a caliphate.

Damasak, hitherto a major agricultural community in the fringes of the Lake Chad that is less than 10 kilometres away from Diffa in Niger Republic, was occupied and administered by Boko Haram from November, 2014 to 2016 before it was recovered by multinational forces.

Damasak had come under repeated attacks including early this year. Thousands of citizens who live there mostly depend on food aid and skeletal businesses.

Zulum, told commissioners in opening remarks on Saturday evening, that the choice of Damasak, was to bring top government officials “face to face with the realities” on ground and to remind them their appointments were not opportunities for luxury but for the serious task ahead of them.

“By tradition, retreats are held in the most serene and oftentimes, luxurious environments‎. However, holding retreats under serene atmosphere is reserved for those who live and operate under normal circumstances.

“Fellow members of the state executive council, I will like to remind us very strongly that our circumstances in Borno State are not normal. If we decide to hold our retreat in Maiduguri, Abuja or perhaps at Obudu Cattle ranch in Cross Rivers state, we may not totally true to ourselves and sensitive to the plight of our people. The wisdom of convening this retreat in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area in the most troubled northern part of Borno State, is to bring all of us, face to face with the realities of our challenges in Borno.

“Driving from Maiduguri to this place, we have passed major towns like Gubio and Kareto which have become near ghosts of what they used to be. We have seen villages that are without human occupation. We have seen on the road, soldiers at different points, clearly indicating that all is not normal with Borno”

“Damasak, where we are today, used to be one of Borno’s agro-economic centres. Damasak used to be a large scale producer and exporter of farm produce like tomatoes, pepper and other vegetables.

“Thousands of wealthy farmers and transporters, other fellow citizens have been killed, displaced to Niger Republic and forced to become beggars. The story of Damasak siness persons and fellow  have become poor due the We are here to remind ourselves that the oath of offices we differently took in May, June, August and September, 2019 is not for luxury. Borno has serious challenges and we have individually sworn with the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible to do whatever we can in trying to address the challenges facing Borno State” the Governor said.

Zulum also tasked the commissioners, advisers and other participants to see Damasak as an example that tells the realities of the 27 local government areas in the state. He also said time-lines were going to be created for the attainment of goals determined at the retreat.

“At this retreat, ladies and gentlemen, we shall not only come up with ideas that are achievable but insha’Allah, we shall be setting for ourselves time-lines within which we are to achieve every goal we aim.We are here to spend only few days in Damasak but there are thousands of our fellow brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, who live here on permanent basis. We are here to feel their stay and to remind us of their needs for continued safety; their needs for shelter; their needs for medical care; their needs for water; their needs for schools; their needs for means of livelihoods. When we drove into this lodge, we saw hundreds of our young sons and daughters welcoming us happily. We saw wives, sisters, mothers and fathers joining they welcome us. Whereas they all wore happy faces, we know that majority of them are in distress. We should therefore regard Damasak as an example of the realities facing all of our 27 local government areas, particularly those in northern Borno.” the Governor charged.

 

Before the Governor’s remarks, secretary to the state government, ‎Usman Jidda Shuwa said the retreat for which he commended the Governor’s ingenious choice of location, was meant for top government officials to cross fertilize ideas towards better service delivery in line with Governor Zulum’s vision and approach to governance. The retreat had resource persons who discussed topics peculiar to the challenges facing the state and suggestions on ways to solving them.

 

Full text of Governor Zulum’s opening remarks on Saturday, October 19, 2019.

 

Fellow members of the Borno State Executive Council, I am sure most, if not everyone of you here, may be wondering why I brought us to Damasak, of all places, to hold our first retreat. Damasak, as we know, is one of the liberated strongholds of the Boko Haram insurgents. It was one of the areas they controlled as a sovereign caliphate using laws that were violent and alien to Islam and humanity.

 

Damasak as we know it, is still a shadow of its era of prosperity. Many citizens, including those from here, rarely visit. But we are here and we are here for a very important, and for me, a historic retreat. The first under my leadership.

 

If we are to go by traditions in both public and private sectors, retreats are held in the most serene and oftentimes, luxurious environments. The reason is for a corporate logic, that retreats are mixtures of formal and social gatherings used to review and strategize ways to attain organizational objectives. Retreats are meant for participants to contribute beautiful and outside-the-box ideas.  For participants to think outside the box during retreats, they need to be under serene environments.  This is the general practice.

 

However, ladies and gentlemen, holding retreats under serene atmosphere is reserved for those who live and operate under normal circumstances.

 

Fellow members of the state executive council, I will like to remind us very strongly that our circumstances in Borno State are not normal. If we decide to hold our retreat in Maiduguri, Abuja or perhaps at Obudu Cattle ranch in Cross Rivers state, we may not totally true to ourselves and sensitive to the plight of our people.

 

The wisdom of convening this retreat in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area in the most troubled northern part of Borno State, is to bring all of us, face to face with the realities of our challenges in Borno.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, driving from Maiduguri to this place, we have passed major towns like Gubio and Kareto which have become near ghosts of what they used to be. We have seen villages that are without human occupation. We have seen on the road, soldiers at different points, clearly indicating that all is not normal with Borno.

 

Damasak, where we are today, used to be one of Borno’s agro-economic centres. Damasak used to be a large scale producer and exporter of farm produce like tomatoes, pepper and other vegetables. Thousands of wealthy farmers and transporters, other fellow citizens have been killed, displaced to Niger Republic and forced to become beggars. The story of Damasak siness persons and fellow  have become poor due the We are here to remind ourselves that the oath of offices we differently took in May, June, August and September, 2019 is not for luxury. Borno has serious challenges and we have individually sworn with the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible to do whatever we can in trying to address the challenges facing Borno State.

 

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, we are here to spend only few days in Damasak but there are thousands of our fellow brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, who live here on permanent basis. We are here to feel their stay and to remind us of their needs for continued safety; their needs for shelter; their needs for medical care; their needs for water; their needs for schools; their needs for means of livelihoods. When we drove into this lodge, we saw hundreds of our young sons and daughters welcoming us happily. We saw wives, sisters, mothers and fathers joining they welcome us. Whereas they all wore happy faces, we know that majority of them are in distress.

 

We should therefore regard Damasak as an example of the realities facing all of our 27 local government areas, particularly those in northern Borno.

 

Fellow members of the Borno State Executive Council, it was unusual that you were probably not aware that our coming was meant for retreat. I know that preparatory to retreats, participants normally consult their own minds and the minds of others, to prepare some written contributions they will make. I deliberately did not inform you because I want all of us to make contributions that will come from our hearts. I want us to make contributions that will be driven by the realities we see in Damasak and which is the case in many of our communities. Some people normally say that good thinking better happens under serene environments.

From my personal experience in life, however, I do share the thought, that sometimes, good thinking happens better and even faster, under an atmosphere of discomfort. Being face to face with challenging realities, tend to reveal the best in those that are determined.

 

I want everyone of us to think outside the box. I want everyone of us to think from the heart; to freely and honestly, make suggestions that are realistic. I want everyone to contribute on how we can be more accountable; more prudent; more productive and more focused.

 

At this retreat, ladies and gentlemen, we shall not only come up with ideas that are achievable but insha’Allah, we shall be setting for ourselves time-lines within which we are to achieve every goal we aim. We shall all reaffirm our purposes of holding public trust and re-dedicate ourselves to the selfless and fearless service of the good people of Borno State.

 

Thank you.