2 June 2014

Nigeria: Travelling to Gwoza Takes More Than Courage - Governor Shettima

Borno State governor Kashim Shettima has described his recent trip to Gwoza for the burial of the late Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Shehu Idrisa Timta, who was killed by Boko Haram gunmen on Friday, as most petrifying. He said travelling through such a perilous route where insurgents attack at will on a daily basis demands more that courage.

"If I say I was not petrified travelling through that 135km of road to Gwoza, I would be lying because that road had been designated a no-go area for about two months now due to the incessant attacks and killings that occur there," said Shettima. "But leadership requires courage and sacrifice. Courage, I believe, is not only about the absence of fear but the belief that there is something greater than that fear."

For Governor Shettima, it was a duty to attend the burial of the first-class monarch who was murdered in the most gruesome manner on Friday. He was accompanied on the trip by about 150 soldiers and police special squads and they travelled through the most dangerous route in the state to get to Gwoza.

Even family members of the deceased monarch who had either relocated to Maiduguri or were living there could not travel on their own to pay their last respects to their murdered monarch. They had to wait at the outskirts of Maiduguri until the governor's convoy came to lead the way before they too trailed behind.

LEADERSHIP reporter who was among the few journalists allowed to be on the trip to Gwoza counted more than 16 towns, villages and hamlets that were completely deserted along the 135km trip to Gwoza. Most of the communities had suffered continuous attacks until the villagers had to flee to other towns and villages.

Shettima said: "The sight of those deserted villages was very pathetic; it was devastating. But we believe no matter how long the night tarries, it must give way to the light of the dawn. Yes, stormy the weather might be, but it won't rain for ever; in the no distant future, we will have an enduring peace in Borno. My consolation lies in the fact that we have over 1,000 years of recorded history. We strongly believe that from the ashes of this destruction, Borno shall rise again."

LEADERSHIP can authoritatively report that despite the choking presence of the military and the police, the trip to Gwoza could not have been possible had the Civilian-JTF not taken the lead by moving ahead of the convoy in a bid to "clear the road" as they said.

The journey even became more terrifying when at some point after Bama town one of the armoured personnel carriers of the military escort team had to break down, and then it had to be towed by the second APC on the trip.

The journey that was supposed to take about one hour ended up taking three hours as the soldiers had to periodically stop even in a flashpoint area to do what they described as procedural checkings during such VIP trip.

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