The claim by the Buhari administration that normalcy has been restored to the north east of the country is a “lie”, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Humanitarian Affairs, Sani Mohammed, has said.
The lawmaker, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said the region has “failed”, and he feared such failure could affect other parts of the country.
Mr Mohammed spoke while briefing his colleagues on his experience after visiting some states in the region. A video of the speech was published by Oak TV.
“We just returned from an oversight function from Borno and Yobe states and I can say that the description that the northern part of Nigeria is under siege by Hon. Chika is an understatement,” the lawmaker said in a rare frank comment about the situation in the region still facing a deadly Boko Haram crisis.
“The Northern part of the country is failing. Actually, it has failed in so much part of it. My fear is that this grave situation will have a contagious effect on other parts of the country.
“On Thursday when we went to Maiduguri. Upon arrival, Boko Haram insurgents launched an attack on an IDPs camp called Dalori 2 which is just opposite the University of Maiduguri. They burned down a substantial part of that camp, killed eight people and abducted women and ran into the bush unchallenged,” the lawmaker said.
“We went to Bama. The second most important town in Borno state which is also the exit point to three other countries; Chad, Niger and neighbouring Cameroon.”
Apparently referring to the ruling government’s positive references on the war, Mr Mohammed said the statements that stabilisation has been restored to the region was only a lie.
The Buhari administration has consistently said that Boko Haram insurgents had been “technically defeated” before saying they have been “degraded.”
Stepping up the rhetoric, Mr Buhari in his 2018 New Year speech said the armed forces “have since beaten Boko Haram.”
Addressing troops in the garrison town of Monguno in July, Mr Buhari said Boko Haram fighters were surrendering “willingly”.
“It’s evident that we are in a post-conflict stability phase, which has been made possible by the good work of our armed forces,” he added.
The president and his aides have several times received backlashes for such claims as Nigerians question why a defeated group keeps perpetrating deadly attacks.
Recently, mulitple attacks by the group has cost the lives of over a hundred soldiers.
Like many other Nigerians, Mr Mohammed believes the government’s acclaimed defeat does not reflect the true situation on ground.
“There are no 200 persons in Bama today. The talk of safety being restored, the talk of normalcy and stabilisation being restored in part of North-East is a farce, is a ruse. It’s not correct. It’s a lie,” the lawmaker said.
He recounted the experiences he and other committee members had in Borno and Yobe states.
“Before you will be escorted to any of those parts I’m talking about, you need almost a platoon of soldiers. Even the soldiers themselves, in spite of the encouragement we give them, the truth of the matter is that they are not confident.
“On Saturday, we travelled to Gashua in Yobe State. On our way back we were at Damaturu at exactly seven o clock, we could not move to Maiduguri which was just a distance of one hour. By six o clock, up till now there is no movement into Maiduguri. I wonder that my colleagues are not painting this picture on the floor of this parliament.
“So, we had to stay back in Maiduguri (Damaturu) with the only clothes we had. No towels, no brushes, until the following day when we were allowed by the security forces, including our escorts.”
Mr Mohammed said the committee could not go to Chibok due to security situation in the town.
“Part of our assignment would have been to travel to Chibok. Chibok is a no-go area. Only three days earlier, they raided a village where the Chief of Army staff comes from, killed people and went back unchallenged. The fact of the matter is that these insurgents are also in control of some territories,” he said.