Biu: Emerging Peace Capital in Nigeria
By Philip Agbese
AREWA AGENDA – Time could significantly alter the sad fate of a people radically for the good.
It was just yesterday that Biu LGA in Southern Borno State was under the woeful asphyxiation of Boko Haram insurgents.
I recount the agonies of frustrated natives, nitpicking their hearts out, every day under the excessively unbearable heat of insurgents’ attacks.
Today, Biu is redefining the meaning of existence for its natives and the people of the Northeast.
In contrast now, Biu is the face and signpost of peace and security in the Northeast region.
Eleanor Roosevelt submitted in a ditty that “It isn’t enough to talk about peace.
“One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it.
‘One must work at it.”
The people of Biu worked in unison by rising in warrior-like fashion to support troops to rout out insurgents in order to have peace and security.
It was a wise decision and actions by the people of Biu village.
Insurgents who weaponized against their fraternity; farm, houses, wives, children and existence now dread the enclave.
And as a special recognition for Biu’s communal efforts in assisting government curb the roaring threats of terrorism in the axis, Biu has been rewarded with the Nigerian Army University Biu (NAUB).
NAUB is more than a mere university to the people of Biu and the Northeast, it signifies so many things to the people; and they adore it as a rare and unimaginable treasure.
After barely two years, I first heard of the idea of the conception of an army university in Nigeria.
NAUB is now an institution which resonates in near and distant places.
I am a curious adventurist;
I love visiting new places of attraction, if my resources permit.
And I also nurse an ambition to taste from the foundation of knowledge offered by NAUB.
So, I decided to pay a visit to the campus recently for firsthand knowledge of the varsity and the people, as an axiom says “to see is to be believe.”
When you stray into the premises of an ivory tower anywhere, the conviviality of the environment and atmosphere informs the visitor about the seriousness of the institution in the pursuit of learning and knowledge.
It was my first enticing experience at NAUB campus.
I got to Biu village at dusk and decided to perch at the Biu Summit Hotel until the next morning.
I set out early, the following day, on my mission to NAUB.
The workers in the hotel where I passed the night were extraordinarily receptive, hospitable and affectionate to visitors.
Although, it was a one star hotel, the feeling was more than a three-star hotel in that part of the universe , but very exquisite like similar ones one can find in big cities.
I enjoyed their services, which were very cheap and affordable.
The choice of my caption- ‘Biu: Emerging Peace Capital in Nigeria’, may sound disgusting to some ears, especially when associated with Borno State.
Nevertheless, peace has returned to the community; it is just the incredible truth.
But I also vouched for this truth after the visit to Biu, as I had doubted it like others.
Life is bubbling and the communities have put behind them the ugly face of Boko Haram and embraced life.
Let me explain briefly, ab initio that I have bagged three degrees in different fields of academics from the United Kingdom.
My intention of visiting NAUB was to privately assess the university; explore the possibility of taking up a Ph.D research on the Boko Haram insurgency and also interact with stakeholders of the Biu Emirate .
As a patriotic citizen of Nigeria, I have lived with the urge of acquiring a home degree, which will assist generate answers to the Nigerian security puzzle and development question; it has become irrepressible in my mind in the last four years.
When recently, I confided in a friend, and lecturer, at the University of Ilorin, Associate Professor Lemuel Ode, who incidentally is at NAUB for his sabbatical leave, he hinted me about NAUB.
Of course, I have heard of NAUB in the last two years; but Lemuel Odeh bolstered me by insisting NAUB and the Northeast region offers the best opportunities to do anything for an intending Ph.D researcher on a broad range of security studies.
At NAUB, a guide took me round the university faculties and departments.
I was impressed with the magnificent edifices; state-of-the-art equipment, laboratories in their new, sparkling and functional state.
The environment was inviting, with neatly decorated walkways and lawns.
It instantly, reunites your soul with nature.
The institution has started operations with the faculties of Social Sciences, Environmental Studies, Administrative and Management Studies, Military Technology; Military Policy, Logistics and Strategy. The Military Policy, Logistics and Strategy has caught my attention and seems a bride of attraction.
I believe, the outcome of a PhD research in this area would be very beneficial in answering to a major aspect of the anti-insurgencies and insurrectional engagements by Nigeria’s security agents.
While in Biu Emirate, I decided to tour some villages to widen my experience.
Luckily, on the day of my visit to NAUB, another major event was on course.
It was the commissioning of the Buratai Centre, an extension of NAUB.
I crashed into it while at Buratai village and joined other invitees to witness it.
It was also a masterpiece by every standard.
My stay in Biu for three days took me on excursion to other villages like Balbaya, Charenji, Chemi Moda, Galdimare, Kagul, Piku, Sabon Layi and Viu Kutha.
And the inhabitants everywhere I went were quite pleasant and warm people.
I sighted homesteads destroyed by insurgency freshly rebuilt or in the process of reconstruction.
Farmers kissed the hoes on farmlands voraciously and local markets bubbled with business, particularly on agric produce.
It was a memorable experience for me.
Candidly, the people accept visitors warmly and with huge hospitality.
But what endeared me more about Biu people, was their displayed sincerity and honesty.
I slept in Biu Summit Hotel on the first night of arrival in Biu, until I linked up, with my friend, Lemuel Odeh, who was to later transfer me to his apartment at the university staff quarters.
But I needed some quick laundry the first night of my arrival.
So, I handed over my bag, which contained two pairs of dirty clothes to the laundry.
It contained reasonable amount of money for my local running expenses and I also forgot to remove it.
The pockets of the dirty clothes due for washing also had, what we call in Nigeria as “careless change,” forgotten in them.
The next money the laundry man, delivered my washed, ironed clothes neatly packaged inside the same bag.
Surprisingly, he brought back every kobo and everything from the bag unpilfered, including monies I forgot in the clothes he laundered.
The uncommon truth displayed by this laundry man stunned me.
The people of Biu must be really very honest Nigerians.
I am now, urging scholars to emulate my footsteps, by undertaking an academic study to find out how Biu has been able to maintain the peace which President Muhammadu Buhari and the military have leveraged upon to restore peace in Biu Emirate of Borno State.
Winston Churchill once told us that the “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
Let’s accept the responsibility of peace and security burdened on us in our communities because it is apparent that most afflicted communities are apathetic to this idea now.
Agbese is a scholar and publisher based in Abuja.
Arewa Agenda is a Publication of young writers from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through Positive Narratives.