But the increasing wild fires in Borno villages have created nightmares, something akin to routine visits by killer ghosts. Many have continually wondered the cause of such fires said to be happening at daytime when house owners go out in search of greener pasture, leaving behind women and children.
According to some rural dwellers and local government authorities, the fires often emanate from cooking points in some of the houses. Other factors believed to be responsible for the fires are indiscriminate bush burning and failure to completely quench flames with water after use for domestic purposes, often leading to displacement of burning particles by wind which then inflames dry leaves in farmlands. The fact that the majority of the houses in the rural areas were built and roofed with straw and leaves makes them highly inflammable. As a result, wild fires on attacking one house spread hastily to houses closely built in neighbourhoods.
It was also gathered that the absence of the fire service offices in most of the local governments, is among the major factors that cause speedy spread of infernos. Communities normally rely on leaves as a tool to quench fire since most of the areas are confronted with acute water shortage.
On the latest incident, the chairman of the council, Goni Mustapha Sheriff, told the deputy governor’s delegation that the fire emanated from unquenched flames used by fishermen, that burning particles were blown by wind on to houses. The council boss told the villagers to avoid indiscriminate bush burning, explaining that the dry hazy wind from the desert could easily spread fire and cause more destruction. Spokesman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Borno, an umbrella body for nomadic fulanis, Alhaji Mohammed Umar, thanked the state government for its concern, but said there was need for it to come to the rescue of the victims, especially since they were homeless and had lost all they had in life.
Now that the human causalities are recorded in the incessant fires, observers have expressed fears that if the state and local governments allowed the situation to continue unchallenged, more lives might perish in addition to the growing rate of poverty inflicted on peasant villagers by the fires. Observers feel that there is, therefore, the need for the two tiers of governments to adopt concrete measures to address the situation. Such measures, they noted, should include, amongst other things, intensive campaigns against bush burning and serious punishments meted for those caught setting bushes. Such campaigns, the observers added, may only be effective if governments’ usual focus on cities is shifted to villages with district heads, village heads and socio-cultural cooperatives co-opted as key partners in what may become a new war against stubborn wild fires wreaking havoc on Borno villages.