Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, yesterday appealed for the reopening of major highways in the state leading to neighbouring Republic of Niger to facilitate the return of over 85,000 Nigerian refugees.
Shettima made the appeal while hosting the Governor of Diffa Province in Niger Republic, Alhaji Mohammoudu Lawaly Dan Dano, at the Government House, Maiduguri.
He said the reopening of the highways linking Borno State with Niger by the military would reactivate and facilitate farming, trade and evacuation of those presently displaced by insurgents now living in Diffa.
He said there are presently over 85,000 persons from the state taking refuge at the Diffa resettlement camps, established by the Nigerien government in 2014.
Shettima said: “We have a lot of commonalities of history, culture, folks, religion and ethnicity with the people of Niger. It was the colonial masters of Britain and France that divided us with these artificial boundaries and divisions.”
He said the internally displaced persons (IDPs) taking refuge in Diffa Province of Niger, are adequately catered for by the Nigerien government, without being discriminated against or abandoned, as Niger and northern part of Nigeria share the same historical and cultural backgrounds.
He said: “I will meet the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Lucky Irabor, next week; and discuss with him the possibility of reopening this closed border roads that lead to Niger Republic.
“The re-opening of this road will also facilitate the repatriation of displaced persons taking refuge in your province of Diffa.”
Shettima assured the visiting governor that the re-opening of the road, could activate and facilitate trade, farming and tourism, which had been affected by Boko Haram insurgency for over five years.
Responding, Dan Dano assured the governor that all the displaced persons in camps are being taken care of, including the provision of healthcare services.
He said all the female IDPs that gave birth to babies in the camps had been issued with birth and registration certificates.