The Borno State Government has cancelled an earlier plan to return Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, to their homes in Bama, before commencement of the Ramadan fast by the end of May, this year.
Governor Kashim Shettima had, last year launched a reconstruction of private homes and public buildings destroyed by boko haram, and pledged that IDPs from that area would return before May 29.
Governor Shettima announced the change in Bama town while commissioning 12 public infrastructure rebuilt by the Borno State Government, but funded with the Victims Support Fund of N360m.
The fund was established in 2014 under the chairmanship of General Theophilus Danjuma, after a Presidential fundraising generated donations from the public and private sectors.
The Borno State Governor said even though, the return of the IDPs to Bama was a top priority, it was not feasible because the military was still carrying out operations in some areas around the Sambisa Forest.
He, however, pledged that the government would continue to work with security agencies to review the situation.
“Our number one priority is the security and safety of our people. We will not allow any IDP return to any community that we are not sure has regained 100% safety. When IDPs return to communities, they would still need to go to their farms, markets and to travel for economic and social purposes.
We must be sure that farms are safe and routes are safe before we allow our people to return.
But even while we do the reviews, we will continue with our aggressive reconstruction works. We will not wait till eternity. We are very optimistic that very soon, the entire Borno will be safe enough for full habitation. We look forward to Borno reclaiming peace, security and progress,” the Governor said.
Governor Shettima explained that the government was placing emphasis on Bama so as to set the record straight.
“Our reconstruction works actually started in northern Borno, where we rebuilt numerous public and private infrastructures in Kaga Local Government Area. We are currently working in 14 Local Government Areas, but yes, there is a special emphasis on Bama, Mobbar and Gwoza.
Bama has the highest attention because going by the Post Insurgency Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report, jointly conducted on the Northeast by the World Bank, the European Union, the Presidency and State Government in the northeast, Bama has been adjudged the worst destroyed by the boko haram. More than 80% of public and private infrastructures were destroyed by boko haram during their occupation.
The boko haram as we all know, also occupied Gwoza but they didn’t destroy Gwoza as much as they destroyed Bama. So, our idea of facing Bama is to confront the most difficult challenge in a bold manner so that our task becomes less,” he said.
The Borno State Governor said in terms of massive destruction, next to Bama was Mobbar.
“We are currently working in Mobbar, in which so much resources had been deployed, for the rebuilding challenge,” he said.
He paid glowing tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Armed Forces for their roles in securing Bama, which paved way for ongoing reconstruction work.
The Governor also commended the efforts of the Chairman of the Fund, General Theophilus Danjuma and members for the prudent utilization of funds available, as well as
Nigerians who redeemed their pledges to the Victims Support Fund.
In his remarks, General Danjuma, who was represented by the by Vice Chairman of the Victims Support Fund, Alhaji Tijjani Tumsah, said the fund had decided to intervene in Bama because it was impressed that while it provided N250m for reconstruction of 24 projects in Dikwa last year, the Borno State Government used the same funds to rebuild not only the 24 projects but added 16 others.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the fund, Professor Sunday Ochoche also commended the Borno Government for what he described as “very efficient and highly productive use of resources” in all its partnership with the government.
Professor Ochoche announced that the fund would soon begin the rehabilitation of 16 schools in other parts of the State, as part of its continued intervention.
Also the Shehu of Bama, Kyari Ibrahim Umar Elkanemi, who was at the commissioning thanked the Federal and Borno Government for standing by the people of Bama.