By Duku Joel, Maiduguri
Northeast governors on Tuesday backed the call by Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum for the Federal Government to engage mercenaries in the fight against insurgency.
Ishaku Darius (Taraba), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Mohammed Yahaya (Gombe) visited Zulum to condole with him over Saturday’s killings of rice farmers.
The governors, who described the incident as traumatising, urged the Federal Government to heed the call.
Also on Tuesday, former Senate leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, said even America engages mercenaries, adding that Nigeria can also do so.
Ishaku, who spoke on behalf of the governors, urged the Federal Government to also focus on critical infrastructure in the Northeast.
He said: “Our dear brother, we are here to condole with you over the killing of farmers by Boko Haram insurgents. We are indeed saddened and traumatised.
“I will key into your request that the Federal Government should invite some mercenaries to come and help us out of this problem, because what you can’t do, what you can’t solve, I think we should invite who can solve it for us.
“We cannot continuously be mourning. There has to be a time to stop the mourning.
“All of us in the Northeast Governors Forum are pleading with the Federal Government to find a solution to the issue of Boko Haram because if we neglect it, it will become even worst.”
The governor said it was embarrassing that only 0.35 per cent of the federal budget is allocated to the Northeast despite the challenges faced by the region due to decade-long insurgency.
“We also call on the Federal Government to look at the Northeast with sympathy.
“It is embarrassing that with the insurgency and all the problems we have, in the entire budget, what is given to the Northeast is 0.35 per cent. This is very, very unfair,” Darius said.
He also called on the Federal Government to show more commitment to the 3,500 megawatts Mambila Hydropower project, which he noted will bring meaningful development to the region.
Zulum expressed appreciation to his regional colleagues for the visit.
Speaking during the consideration of a motion on the killings, Senator Ndume said Borno farmers now pay ransom to Boko Haram members before they are allowed to go to their farms or move around in their villages.
He said: “The issue of insecurity has been there. We have lamented. Committees have been set up. We have sent recommendations to the President.
“Two reports were not implemented. There are other recommendations we have made and nothing was done. We need to take a step further. Section 14 of the Constitution is clear.
“I can tell you that people fighting the war are sharing ammunitions. They have no arms or proper kits. I have gone around. I have not seen a Nigerian soldier holding a new AK47.
“Last week, some people came to me in Abuja to ask for money to help them pay their dues to Boko Haram terrorists before they can harvest their crops.
“If the government is serious, this terrorism can be stopped in six months. America engages mercenaries. Why can’t we get that? We will be failing in our responsibility if we fail to the right thing.”