Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno, says there are white men, Asians and Christians in the ranks of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram is seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria.
For over a decade, Borno and other states in the north-east have suffered attacks from Boko Haram insurgents, where thousands have been killed and over two million people displaced.
While speaking at the 17th Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture in Lagos, Zulum said the security challenge in Borno poses a danger to every part of the country and everybody must come together to fight it.
“I’m from Borno state, and many of our children are into Boko Haram. I’m not denying the fact. But again, they are being sponsored by many people across the world. Among Boko Haram, we have white men, Asians, Africans, Muslims and Christians,” he said.
“Throughout northern Nigeria, particularly Borno state, a committee is working on how to reform the Almajiri system of education. We want to streamline the non-formal and formal education sectors to avail those children basic literacy and numeracy skills so they can stand on their own. And we are not in support of street begging.
“We must stop seeing this insurgency as a problem of the north. The distance between Borno state and Lagos state is about 1,700km, but mind you if Borno state is not peaceful, other parts of the nation will never be peaceful. We have to unite and fight these insurgents. We have seen what happened in Libya, Iraq and other countries. Peace building and social cohesion are very important in strengthening the resilience of our communities.
“Unless we get rid of nepotism, tribalism and exploitation of religion, we will not get it right in this country. The constitution is very clear on the need for peaceful coexistence among all of us, which is why the principle of federal character is enshrined in the constitution, but it has been abused.”
There have been calls for the creation of state police to help with internal security, but the governor said he does not support the idea, arguing that it will further polarise an already fragile system and weaken national unity.
”For the sake of national unity, I will not advise the creation of state police. It’s not yet time for us to have it, but as time goes on, the idea of having state police is very good. I’m entitled to my opinion,” he said.