Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has cried out that the financial burden to rebuild his state from the destruction of Boko Haram was way beyond the state’s capability.
The governor, who received the Danish Refugee Council on his second day stay in Bama after the temporarily relocation of his office to allow for the strict supervision of the ongoing reconstruction of the town as well as other towns severely destroyed by the insurgents, said the state has to seek assistance from all quarters to rebuild the communities destroyed by Boko Haram.
He said though his people have been bruised and made to beg for assistance, they remain honourable beggars who beg with dignity.
Shettima said his government would continue to be transparent with the issues surrounding internally displaced persons (IDPs) and donations towards their rehabilitation and resettlement.
He lampooned those that are in the business of selling lies about the situation of IDPs or destruction in their midst in order to get donations.
Shettima said: “Here in Borno State, we have two million IDPs, the issue of IDPs has become big business that every state would claim they have over 700,000 or 500,000 as the case may be.
“Even the IDPs in Yola, are from Borno. It is not a thing of pride but an issue of sadness but unfortunately as I said earlier it has become big business and it is making a new generation of millionaires.
“Borno was the nerve centre of the uprising, we have suffered more than any other committee or any other state in the federation. The population of Maiduguri has swollen up from a population of about a million to three million now.”
He said the Dangote Foundation and the Victims Support Fund which are among prominent donors to the ongoing reconstruction works in the state can attest to the fact of the transparency of his government.
He insisted that his government dissuade cash donations for the ongoing reconstruction efforts in the state but instead seek assistance in the form of building materials.
The governor who had to cut short his daily routine of supervision of construction works to attend to the Danish Refugee Council led by the Danish Country Director in Nigeria, Mr. Shah Luton, said whatever the team donates towards the ongoing reconstruction would be given account of by his government.
Shettima identified the area of needs to include intervention in the ongoing reconstruction, including the schools destroyed by the insurgents, intervention in agriculture to create jobs, and gender empowerment with particular interest in education and economic empowerment of women.
He lamented that all the primary schools in Bama were destroyed by insurgents during their occupation and so were thousands of private houses, municipal buildings, clinics, markets and water installations.
Luton told the governor that: “We have seen serious destructions here in Bama, we also know that as people prepare to return they will be concerned about going back to means of livelihood, one of which is their farms. We will offer to bring specialists to remove mines planted in those farms to make it possible for people to use the farms. We will also want to know your other priorities so as to know where to intervene.”
The visiting team who flew into Bama in a helicopter, promised to get back to the governor in good time with their assistance.
They took time out to assess the internally displaced persons camp in Bama town where many persons were reported to have died of malnutrition and starvation about three months ago.