Kopa Central Primary School in Madagali LGA

The Presidential Initiative for North East has rehabilitated primary schools and police stations destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents across the seven local government areas of Adamawa State, writes Daji Sani

The Boko Haram insurgency was tagged one of the deadliest extremist armed groups in the world by the Global Terrorist Index 2015, and the Human Rights Watch research, has also estimated that about 10,000 civilians died in Nigeria since the group began its attacks in 2009.

However, the story is not the same today as the insurgency have been degraded by the military and all the affected local government areas particularly in Adamawa State have been liberated from the grip of the insurgents in the North-east region of the country.

The Boko Haram’s incessant onslaughts on these communities have affected every strata of life in the North-east, particularly education, which has become the fault line of the conflict. Boko Haram, whose name in Hausa, the dominant language in northern Nigeria, means “Western education is forbidden,” has targeted and killed teachers, education workers and students and security personnel.

Research has shown that at least 611 teachers have been deliberately killed and 19,000 of them have been forced to flee the troubled areas since 2009. More than 2,000 people, many of them female, including school girls have been abducted by the insurgents since the beginning of the crisis.

Thousands more students and teachers have been injured, some in deadly suicide bombs attacks and about 910 schools were completely destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgency while about 1,500 schools were forced to close. By early 2016, an estimated 952,029 school-age children had fled the violence. They have little or no access to education, likely blighting their future for years to come.

On this premise, stakeholders have always called for the rebuilding of educational system and civil authorities destroyed by the insurgency in the North-east when they held sway particularly in the seven Local Government Areas of Adamawa State.

They had argued that now that the seven local government areas namely Madagali, Michika, Hong, Gombi, Mahia, Mubi Sourth and Mubi North have since been liberated, there was dire need for federal government presence in those affected areas especially education and the basic necessities of life.

These reasons informed the current efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to answer the calls and agitations of the stakeholders and the masses by establishing the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) which is placed under the supervision of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir David Lawal, who hails from the troubled region.

PINE is saddle with the responsibility of rebuilding, rehabilitating and reconciling of the North-east ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency. The initiative’s first phase of development in the region was to rebuild schools and police stations completely touched by the insurgency across the seven affected local government areas of Adamawa State.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Policy Development and Analysis, Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetel told THISDAY in Yola that the first phase of the rebuilding by PINE was to rebuild the educational system which is the bedrock of every society and rebuild police stations so as reestablish the civil authority destroyed with the aim of maintaining law and order in the affected areas.

When THISDAY visited all the seven local Government areas affected by insurgency in Adamawa, it discovered that in Madagali Local Government Area close to Sambisa forest which share boundaries with Gwoza Town in Borno State, the presidential initiative built 13 blocks of classrooms with one upstairs, staff offices and VIP toilets in Gulak Central Primary Schools, a suburb of Madagali.

Kopa Central Primary School, Shuwa Central Primary School and Duwala Primary School in Madagali LGA have been built and furnished for Madagali Town, the administrative headquarters of Madagali LGA. But not all the primary schools have been rebuilt because of the insecurity challenges in the area which forced contractors to suspend work.

While in Michika town all the primary and secondary schools touched by the insurgency have been rebuilt by PINE except for few in some villages of Michika. The Headmaster Central Primary School in Michika, Mallam Adamu Damba told THISDAY in his office that the Federal Government has brought back the glory of primary and secondary schools in Michika.

Damba said the presidential initiative did not only rebuild the schools but equipped them with computers and furnished their classrooms and staff rooms with modern chairs and tables adding that they were not having writing materials but PINE came to their rescue.

“Our school and many other schools and even worship centres were completely destroyed by these boys when they took over Michika but thank God for the intervention of the federal and state governments who had earlier built two blocks of classrooms before the Presidential Initiative for North East came to rebuild the remaining classrooms and staff offices and equipped them with computers,” he said

He lauded the infrastructural development of the Federal Government on schools and police stations and opined that more needed to be done, as he appealed to the Federal Government to build their bridges that were destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorists three years ago.

“I am using this opportunity to appeal to President Buhari to rebuild our bridges destroyed by the insurgency for three years now,” he said.

According to Damba, due to the attacks on schools, the enrollment is poor and teachers are not turning up for classes due to lack of payment of their salaries for months. “We have beautiful buildings without teachers to teach the pupils due to non-payment of the teachers’ salaries,” he said

Pupils of Hausari, Yaskule, Jiddel and Tghimi primary schools in Michika LGA told THISDAY in their various schools that they were appreciative of the fact that the Federal Government was concerned about their plight and wish that the government would secure the lives and property and wipe out completely the Boko Haram insurgency.

A pupil that spoke to THISDAY who simply identified himself as Aminu broke into tears while speaking as he lamented that he lost his best friend to the insurgents. He noted that many of his colleagues were yet to return from where they fled to during the peak of the onslaught of the Boko Haram terrorists.

Aminu who is about 12 years old said nobody knows whether the other pupils that are yet to return were killed or alive and decided to live somewhere safer with their parents. He said many of them lost their parents to the insurgency and some died of excessive hunger.

“The day the insurgents entered Michika, I was lucky we escaped with my parents through the bush and we had to trek a whole day without food before we got help from my father’s friend who my father called on the phone to come and assist us to Yola, the state capital,” Aminu said.

THISDAY also visited Mubi, Mahia, Hong and Gombi LGAs and discovered that almost all primary and secondary schools have been rebuilt. They include schools like Uba Central Primariy School, Fadama Rake Primary and Kala’a Primary in Hong, Islamiya Primary and Secondary Schools, Garkida North Primary School in Gombi LGA, Mubi Kwarahi A and Kwarahi B Primary and Secondary Schools and Mahia.

However over 17 police stations destroyed by the insurgents have also been rebuilt in the seven LGAs affected by the insurgency and farming and socio-economic activities are on as the people now enjoyed the return of normalcy in these areas.

At the flag-off of distribution of empowerment materials , such as block moulding machines, generators, home grinding machines, grains grinding machines, sewing machines, KEKE NAPEP and tricycle known as Yellow and Carry Go. The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Policy Development and Analysis, Bapetel who represented the SGF told journalists in Yola that these empowerment items are going to be distributed to the seven LGAs affected by insurgency.

He pleaded with the people affected by the insurgency to be patient because the Federal Government according to him, was doing everything possible to address their plight adding that the items were meant to assist and reduce hardship and suffering occasioned by insurgents attacks on them.

In another flag-off of distribution of food and non-food items such as zinc, cements, mattresses, blankets, wrappers, yards, mosquito nets, buckets and detergent in Yola, Bapetel said the gesture was to help individuals to rebuild their houses destroyed by the insurgency and to provide food and some basic necessities of life to returnees.

He said PINE would continue to do more for the people affected by the insurgency by supplying more food and non- food items.

Kawo Sabon who spoke on behalf of those who benefited from Michika, whose block industry was destroyed by the insurgents, pledged that those that benefitted from the Federal Government intervention programme would put them into good use.

Sabon said he can now go back to his business of moulding blocks for sale because he was given a moulding machine while others got grains grinding machines. Emmanuel Afkari one of the beneficiary from Madagali LGA, Ali Bako from Mubi, Maliki John and Ibrahim Abba Goni from Gombi and many others that benefitted from the empowerment programme, thaanked the Federal Government for coming to their rescue.