The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, says his criticisms of the Nigerian Army are aimed at improving on its successes and not out of lack of appreciation.
Mr Zulum said this on Thursday while commissioning the Institute of War and Peace located at Buratai town in Biu local government area of southern Borno, the country home of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.
The institute, which is named after the Army Chief, is an off-campus section of the Nigerian Army University, which has a campus in Biu town.
Mr Zulum, in recent times, has been an ardent critic of the military and its operations in the state, blaming it for the recurring Boko Haram attacks in its communities.
In February, he blamed Nigerian soldiers for the attack by Boko Haram which claimed the lives of over 30 stranded travellers.
“I am being pushed to the wall to say the truth,” the governor said. “Since my inauguration as the governor of Borno State from May 29th to date, Auno town has been attacked for about six times now. And the reason is that the military has withdrawn from Auno town.”
Also, he accused the military of being responsible for the attack on his convoy earlier this month in Baga, a town in Kukawa Local Government Area of the state.
Mr Zulum survived an ambush by suspected gunmen while on a trip to Monguno and Baga towns to distribute food to internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Speaking at the venue of the commissioning on Thursday, Mr Zulum expressed appreciation to officers, and men of the Nigerian military for their counter insurgency operations in the northeast.
“I am not unaware of where we were before the inception of the Buratai’s leadership and the successes recorded by the military in the war against terror. We appreciate the sacrifices of lives and deaths of our gallant officers; we shall continue to support our armed forces. When we occasionally criticize, we do so with a view to improving on our successes and not out of lack of appreciation,” Mr Zulum said in a statement shared on his social media page.
The governor further stated that the institute will promote research on contemporary issues such as terrorism, insurgency and all forms of conflict, with a view to attaining peace.
“This is a very welcome development. I can assure you of the absolute support of the Government and people of Borno State for such a noble venture. We appreciate the foresight of the Nigerian Army University, Biu and indeed the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai for this initiative. The Government of Borno State shall work with Tukur Buratai institute to design a template of programs for peacebuilding, reconstruction and development of our communities. Count on our support,” Mr Zulum said.
He added, “You are all aware of the depleting effect of Boko Haram insurgency in Borno, neighboring States, and indeed adjoining countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Our dear state, Borno is the worst affected, with many of our citizens living in the IDPs camp.”
Mr Zulum announced the plans to rehabilitate those displaced owing to the destruction of infrastructure, so that they will return to start their means of livelihood.
“That’s why the Borno State Government is importing a lot of its resources to empower the people and encourage them to return to their communities. The Nigerian Army has been a reliable partner in this endeavor.”
The governor also directed the construction of a new mega school in Buratai town and ordered the rehabilitation of Primary Health Center, Buratai.
The newly commissioned institute was previously the Army’s national museum, established in 2016.
The institute has six centres for research and documentation, counter terrorism and counter insurgency, strategic communications, cyber security, museum and archives.