General Buratai has restored hope and confidence on women living around the Lake Chad—Hajiya Zara Goni

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INTERVIEW

General Buratai has restored hope and confidence on women living around the Lake Chad—Hajiya Zara Goni

Hajiya Zara Goni is the Borno State Team Leader of British Council/EU’s Managing Conflict in Nigeria. She has previously worked with the Lake Chad Basin Development Commission and has consulted for numerous donor agencies and nations on issues affecting the Lake Chad, women, northeast Nigeria and sub Saharan Africa. Mrs. Goni granted this interview as an individual and the views expressed here are not that of the British Council/EU or MCN.

 Abubakar M.S

Can we meet you madam?

Answer:My name is Zara Goni. I refer to myself as a Lake Chadian woman working with rural women living around the lake to improve the quality of our lives.

What do you think is the major cause of Boko Haram insurgency?

 Answer:  A myriad of problems I associate with Boko Haram. There is the issue of neglect for an endowed region thereby causing underdevelopment. Looking from another side of the prism will show us poverty.Governance issues are also a factor and misunderstanding of the position religion.

He is the one person who has not only restored hope and confidence in us as women but gives us hope that Nigeria is committed ending the war. Talking to sisters in the communities you will notice that there is hope and confidence. I know a lot of women who are back doing their fishing and incense business and we all attribute this to the Nigerian military under his leadership. There was a time we could not even thing of travelling by road from Maiduguri to Ndjamena.

Do you think the Army has done well in tackling Boko Haram insurgency?

Answer: The Army has done extremely well in tackling the issue. Let me point out here that the insurgency is a complex issue. The expertise of the military is to capture and contain and we all know they have done that very well with all the communities now back in the custody of the government.  I hear people make a mockery of the President’s statement when they said we have technically defeated the insurgents. This statement is true because the technical aspect of the war which is handled by the Army has been fulfilled and everyone knows that. We need to agree that the war is not only technical; it has other sides which include political, social and economic dimensions. The military in all fairness is not trained to deal with that rather other nations and development partners deal with that. The light should now shine on them to see what they are doing to end the war from their respective angles of expertise. The concept of cimic (Civil military cooperation) or cmi (Civil military interaction) came into existence not too long ago so it is unfair to expect the military alone to totally bring this sort of conflict to an end. In fact it’s time for us to commend the military for a job well done as we the women living around the lake are now able to return back to our farms and carry out our fishing. Again the war entrepreneurs or economies should really be looked at this point.

As someone who has worked in Chad and currently working in Borno, what can you say about the Army under General Buratai?

Answer: General Buratai the COAS deserves commendation from all of us. I want to say categorically that without him we will not be where we are today. His commitment to ending the insurgency cannot be quantified and only a woman who has lived through the war can say this in the affirmative. In addition to being a woman who travels back and forth from Ndjamena to Maiduguri, I will say he is a total blessing to us the women living around the lake and thank Allah (SWT) for bringing the much desired hope. He is the one person who has not only restored hope and confidence in us as women but gives us hope that Nigeria is committed ending the war. Talking to sisters in the communities you will notice that there is hope and confidence. I know a lot of women who are back doing their fishing and incense business and we all attribute this to the Nigerian military under his leadership. There was a time we could not even thing of travelling by road from Maiduguri to Ndjamena.


The northeast region is reckoned to have a large number of out of school children and yet our people have high birth rare amidst high rate of unemployment and scarce resources. Do you think over population has a connection with insurgency in the northeast?

 Answer: You see population should really be perceived as an asset rather than a liability. The issue is to create governance structure that can have productive human resources that can push the country forward. India is good example of a country where human resources are put into positive use and there are states in India that live and thrive on remittances from its human capital.

What can you say to girls and women in general on conflict management and peace building in a post insurgency environment like Borno?

Answer: Women and girls are in most cases custodians of information. Being the most vulnerable in times of war they should always share any information in their custody. They also should be involved to a large extent in decisions on how to bring wars to an end.

  I hear people make a mockery of the President’s statement when they said we have technically defeated the insurgents. This statement is true because the technical aspect of the war which is handled by the Army has been fulfilled and everyone knows that. We need to agree that the war is not only technical; it has other sides which include political, social and economic dimensions.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Answer: I would like to be remembered for being a peace builder who served humanity.

As we approach the 2019 general elections, what is your advice to the people of Borno and Nigerians in general?

Answer: To the people in Borno I say let’s come together as one and make the right choice. They should vote for people who don’t have their interest at hear or people who don’t want peace to be entrenched in Borno. As for the politicians, I have a simple advice: fear God!

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