Boko Haram: I warned them, Oyinlola blasts
Former Osun state governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has recalled how he advised a past government in Borno state to kick-start a policy of building schools so as to take off from the street the army of almajirai children swarming around but that the idea was rejected on the basis of religion and what he described as shortsightedness on the part of those concerned.
In an interview by BBC Yoruba service monitored by ogbomosoinsightonline.com, Prince Oyinlola said he was at the time the GOC of an Army Division in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state when he gave the advice during a meeting called by the then administrator of the state, Col. Victor Ozodinobi.
According to Oyinlola, presently a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Col. Ozodinobi invited him to the meeting which also had in attendance his commissioners and others.
“At the meeting, Col. Ozodinobi and I made an observation on the army of almajirai children swarming the streets of Maiduguri sitting idly under neem trees scattered across the city. We told them that there was the need to start building schools to take these children off the street so that they could combine western education with Quranic education. We told them that in the future these children would constitute security threat if they were not educated formally.
“So, we mooted the idea of building schools so we could redirect their lives. But I was amazed when a commissioner stood up to challenge the idea. He stated matter of fact that the mallams taking these almajirai children in the Quranic schools would become jobless. What sprang to my mind at that point was that he didn’t understand our position or else he wouldn’t have uttered such bland statement.
“But I told him, ‘if you were one of these children, sitting idly under the trees, if you had not been educated formally, would you have had the privilege of being here as a state commissioner?’ I added as if I were a soothsayer that if we failed to educate these children the western way, if they take only Islamic studies, when they grew up and they had no means of livelihood, I doubt if you would be able to sleep again in Maiduguri, not knowing the effect would be on all Nigerians, that we will all be robbed of sleep. If we had taken the proactive step at the time, perhaps the situation wouldn’t have been as terrible as we have today because Boko Haram and ISWAP recruit their fighters from among these adult and children they failed to educate.”
Oyinlola expressed surprise that the insurgency had escalated, “this is the eleventh year, not fifth or sixth year that the country has been battling the Boko Haram terrorism.”
The Okuku Prince however slammed the army authorities over what he described as the shoddy way in which the war is prosecuted in terms of military hardware.
“But I believe if the soldiers had been well equipped, it would not have taken long before the insurgents got wiped off. I heard some times that they were counting bullets for the soldiers, ‘you, take ten, you, take twelve, march to the front to fight the insurgents,’ that isn’t the way to fight war, the combatants ought to have adequate ammunitions, in fact in excess.
“When I was in the force, such number of bullets, ten, is just to like warm up the rifle to prepare to launch out. It is never done. I even heard some time ago that the troops refused to fight because of lack of weapons, yet money is allocated to the military. There is need to look into that,” the former Lagos state governor submitted.