Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who took a sizeable group of journalists to get a first-hand assessment of the destruction inflicted on Bama and other Borno communities by the Boko Haram sect, has said that the carnage and scale of destruction on Bama was near incurable.
Lai Mohammed spoke almost in tears as he narrated his unbelievable experience to Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima during a courtesy call:
“We went straight to Bama and when we got to Bama, we got first-hand information on the scale of destruction and garbage that the Boko Haram terrorists left behind. The destruction of the town was total. Houses were floored. It would have been easier to describe the place as a ghost town but it was worse.”
“We met an entirely devastated town, completely sacked and destroyed by a heartless group. Livestock was not spared. The killed every living thing that they saw. Those who ran away were lucky. The level of destruction was so high that the reconstruction of Bama is the only way the residents of that town can ever go back there.”
The information Minister continued: “I hope that with this visit, my colleagues in the media will show more understanding in reporting the efforts in the war against terrorism.
“We are now much more informed about the horror of the war. ”Alhaji Mohammed commended the Katsina State Government for the rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction projects embarked upon in some villages destroyed by the insurgents.
Responding, Governor Shettima, commended the minister for the visit. He said Mohammed was the first Minister of Information that visited the state to get firsthand information on the war against insurgency.
The governor said the state had witnessed unimaginable destruction of 27 local government areas from 2009 to date caused by the insurgency.
Mr. Shettima, who blamed the insurgency on poverty and unemployment, urged the Federal Government to address the problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of hope for the youths.
The minister with his media entourage, also visited the Theatre Command of the Operation Lafiya Dole, 7 Division, Bama.
In a related matter, Alhaji Mohammed has also said the Federal Government has done “very” well in the fight against corruption and terrorism in the country.
Mohammed said this at the Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja at the weekend. The minister stated that one major achievement of the Federal Government’s fight against corruption is that for the first time in a long time, people have begun to appreciate the fact that corruption is an ill.
He said that in its anti-corruption war, the present administration would go beyond prosecuting people, to changing the way Nigerians did things.
Mohammed, therefore, said that the government would soon launch its campaign initiative tagged: “Change Begins With Me.”
“We did campaign majorly on creating jobs for our youth, building the economy, fighting corruption, and addressing insecurity.
“I think so far, we have done very well in the area of fighting insecurity and terrorism; we have done very well in fighting corruption.
“All Nigerians agree that corruption is one of the major ills of this society and one major achievement of this fight against corruption is that for the first time in a long time people have begun to appreciate the fact that corruption is really an ill.
“But beyond prosecuting people, this administration is bent on changing the way Nigerians do things.
“And this is why this administration is going to start very soon, a massive campaign to re-orientate Nigerians, to let them know that they cannot continue to do things the same way and expect different results.
“It is not all about criminalizing people, who have been corrupt; of course if you have been corrupt, we are going to follow, due process; but it is more about a total change, total santising of our society.
“We are working very hard to lift our campaign, which is ‘Change begins with me’.
“Every Nigerian wants change, but they do not know that change is embedded in them.”
Mohammed urged Nigerians to embrace the change initiative in order to promote development at all levels of the society.
The minister said that corruption and indiscipline were worse at the lower level of the society because the people at that level “have no good example to look up to.”
“Corruption, indiscipline is even worse at the lower level of the stratum and you cannot blame them because they have no good example to look up to.
“I think Nigeria is fortunate today that we have a leadership, the President himself, who has shown by his examples that this change is possible.
“But we are not going to leave it to the president alone; we are going to involve everybody; when we show good example, it is easier for people to follow.”
“And that change would come only when leaders lead by example. When leaders lead by example, it will inspire those who are governed to do the right thing.”
Mr. Mohammed also urged Nigerians to always strive to promote the image of the country, saying that marketing the positive aspects of the country would change the way the country was perceived by the international community.
“The challenges Nigeria is facing today are small compared to challenges being faced in other parts of the world.
“Yet, this perception in other parts of the world is being managed and nobody really notices them.
“We, on our part, have to market Nigeria vigorously; we have to look at those areas that are positive and market them while we are addressing and tackling this issue of insurgency here and there.”