Marking his one year in office, the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, urged the citizens of the state to continue to remain steadfast and committed to the noble objective of moving the state forward, adding that with such vigour and resilience the state will soon be out of the mess created by the Boko Haram insurgency, and finally regain its lost glory.
The insurgency which raged for several years has claimed thousands of lives with over one million people displaced in Borno known as the epicenter of the conflict. Things are normalizing in the state following intensified military and humanitarian activities but few cases of sporadic attacks on soft targets persist.
The present government of Borno under Governor Zulum just like its predecessor Sen. Kashim Shettima is utilising the gradual return of peace in the state by embarking on massive reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement.
The state Ministry for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR) created by ex-governor Shettima in 2015 had present governor Zulum as its pioneer commissioner, a development that led to sustaining the vital ministry to continue its role of rebuilding the state and rekindling the hope and resilience of its citizens as the strive to pick up their lives once again.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Usman Jidda, said within the past one year of Zulum’s administration, a total of 326 capital projects were executed alongside the implementation of 49 policies and programmes to transform the embattled state.
”Some of the projects executed by the administration under Gov. Babagana Zulum are construction of 6,544 sub-urban and low-cost houses in 12 local government sreas of the state for resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.
”The 133 boreholes, 37 new primary healthcare centres in 17 Local governments, 30 new and rehabilitated roads, and the ongoing construction of the first flyover in Maiduguri,” Jidda said. The SSG also said that 300 surveillance vehicles were procured and distributed to security agencies and volunteers in the state to further enhance security.
The Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Engr. Mustafa Gubio, said his ministry had within the past one year executed projects in 22 local government areas, and that some of those projects apart from residential and healthcare centres include traditional rulers places, courts, police stations, local government secretariats to ensure the existence of civil authorities at the rural areas as the populace return.
The Commissioner of Poverty Alleviation, Mr Nuhu Clark, also said that thousands of jobless youths involved in thuggery had been engaged in various activities such as clearing water ways, garbage and fumigation of gutters within the past one year to earn capital, while small and medium scale business operators were given cash grants to boost their businesses.
Hajiya Yabawa Kolo, Chairperson of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said other measures taken boost the morale and resilience of the people was the ongoing visits to displaced persons within and outside the state by the governor who always brief them on rebuilding of the affected homes and preparations for their return.
“The governor approved N1 billion as counterpart funding to the Bank of Industry to support small and medium scale entrepreneurs among the displaced persons. Gov. Zulum distributed another fund as social protection to a combination of 120, 000 female IDPs, 3,127 petty traders, 3, 127 physical challenged persons, 1,030 blind men and women, 28,162 youths as well as 300 IDPs who survived gender based violence to start business after acquiring skills,” Kolo said.
Dr Mairo Mandara, Special Adviser to the Governor and State Coordinator of Sustainable Development, Partnership and Humanitarian Affairs, said the state has never lost hope of regaining its lost glory and achieving more of it dreams as it had once experienced such challenges during the historic Kanem Borno Empire.
Mandara said the state is not sitting to lament over the darkest caused by the insurgency but had gone ahead to create light by coming up with a 25-year development plan. “We have 10 year implementation plan, and I can tell you Borno is the only state in Nigeria that has 25-year development plan and a 10 year implementation plan. We are looking at how do we rebuild Borno again within the SDGs and African Union 2020 plan amongst others,” Mandara said.
She noted that the state had already started moves to coordinate the international and local NGOs in the state to ensure that they operate in collaboration with government and inline with the best interest of the state. Madara explained that the state had re strategized in how it attend to displaced persons by not only giving them food but also some little capital to enable them pick up their lives once again, adding that some NGOs were also assisting with trainings and starter packs.
“The bottom line is repicking. Borno is not a failed state, so, we must never be treated like Somalia or Afghanistan because we are not,” Mandara said. Outside forces, particularly federal government has been playing vital role in giving succor and boosting the morale of the embattled people of Borno through various interventions. The latest was the establishment of North East Development Commission (NEDC) which has positively intervene in areas of housing, health care and empowerment.
Just last month, the commission officially flag-off the construction of 10,000 housing units for displaced persons in the state. Alhaji Mohammed Alkali, managing director of the commission said at the ground breaking ceremony of the houses in Mafa Local Government that
the gesture is a special intervention directed by Mr President to help address housing needs of displaced persons wishing to return home.
“The housing project will be executed as quickly as possible to facilitate the return of those displaced,” Alkali said. Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, who was at the project site described the development said as a pointer to President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment towards rebuilding of the North East.
While commenting on the journey so far, Gov. Zulum who lauded the support of all stakeholders in rebuilding the state said that one way his administration used to boost the people resilience and bridge the trust deficit between government and the people was through his regular visits to the local government areas to support and interact with the people.
“Shortly after I was sworn in, I visited all LGAs in the state, some even three to four times to ensure stabilization at local government level and reduce the trust deficit between government and people at community level. We also established what we call security Trust Fund all in an effort to reduce the security situation in the state. In area of agriculture we increase the hectares under cultivation so that people should have means of livelihood which will go a long way in addressing the issue of recruitment of the public by the insurgentsts, ” Zulum said.
The governor who noted that with the relevant Islamic and western education terrorism will be conquered, said education is among his administration 10-point agenda, and that 23 mega schools were built out of the 76 educational projects executed by his within one year. He said all the secondary schools projects executed by his administration were technical ones to ensure that students acquired some skills that will add value to their lives.
Yakubu Uba,Maiduguri, Borno state