Governor Babagana Zulum said the whereabouts of 10 per cent of Borno State’s population as a result of insurgency remains a mystery.
Zulum made this known while fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governor also said he had been attacked 50 times by Boko Haram, however, he welcomed the rehabilitation of surrendered insurgents.
The governor explained that he discussed the surrendering of 2,600 insurgents, including those between ages 11 and 12, with Buhari.
According to him: “I came to brief Mr. President over the ongoing surrender by insurgents. I think, to me, and to the greater majority of people of Borno State, this is a very good development.
“In the last 12 years, thousands of lives have been lost; people have completely lost their means of livelihood. We have a total number of over 50,000 orphans and widows, these are official figures. The unofficial figures are higher.
“We are not able to cultivate not more than three percent of our total arable land because of insurgency. Right now, the whereabouts of not less than 10 percent of the people of Borno State are not known.
”This is a very serious matter and I think the report of the surrendering of the insurgents, to me in particular and to the greater people of Borno State is a very welcome development.
“Unless we want to continue with an endless war, I see no reason why we shall reject those that are willing to surrender.
“I came to brief Mr. President on this matter and Mr. President has given my humble self and the people of Borno State the assurances of his continued support in this direction so that this matter can be resolved amicably.”
The governor expressed hope that the mass surrendering of insurgents in Borno State would bring about an end to the protracted insurgency in the Northeast.
He added: “Some of those that have surrendered are innocent. Some were forcefully conscripted. Some are below the ages of 11 and 12, who can handle AK-47. There’s one very important thing that Nigerians need to understand. If this issue of Boko Haram insurgency is not resolved, I believe it will never end because it is a generation.
”Some of those that came out from the bush have two wives, some three wives. Some even have 10 children. These children are well trained to behave in such a manner. What is this manner? Carrying AK-47 and it’s a generation.
“I think the best possible option is to resolve this issue by involving the Federal Government. The President has agreed to provide the leadership.”