Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The federal government has expressed concern that the Lake Chad basin areas have now become an incubation centre for the Boko Haram terrorists and a lucrative market place for illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW).
Â The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the opening session of the think-tank Conference with the theme; â€œHumanitarian Crisis in the North East,â€ organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS).
The Minister who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of counter terrorism, AIG Dan Bature, said, government was always ready to be associated with every good and reasonable effort,Â either by individual or organisations that are aimed at finding a sustainable solution to Nigeriaâ€™s myriad of problem.
According to him, â€œas we are all aware, while governmentâ€™s sustained war against Boko Haram in the North-east has seen the capability for power projection of the group and its ability to hold territories significantly degraded,Â government is however concerned that Boko Haram replenishes itself from the deteriorating situation in the Lake Chad Basin, which has become a source of grave global concerns.â€
Dambazau noted that this concern was not only from the drastic shrinking of one of Africaâ€™s major freshwaters shallow lakes, but also the ferocious conflicts and terrorism that have engulfed the once lively, peaceful and economically endowed area.
â€œIt has also become an incubation centre for terrorists and lucrative market place for illicit Small Arms and Light Weapon (SALW). The resultant effect of this is a humanitarian disaster of monumental and saddening proportion,â€ the minister noted.
He stated further that the activities of the group have resulted in the death of over 30,000 persons and the displacement of over 1.6 million people and over 18,000 refugees.
He therefore charged the conference among others to focus on the specific objectives of providing a platform for experts to conduct a diagnostic review of all humanitarian responses to the crisis and the approaches adopted towards a comprehensive strategic response.
In his remarks, the Acting Director General of NIPPS, Jonathan Juma said the country was yet to benefit from the UN Peace-building fund that was established in 2005 through the General Assembly Resolution 60/180 and Security Council Resolution 1685.
He added that the fund was created to support countries recovering from conflict or considered to be at risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict, while also supporting efforts to address immediate needs in countries emerging from conflict at a time when sufficient resources are not available from other funding mechanisms that could provide support for peace-building activities.
Meanwhile,Â the Borno State governor, Ibrahim Shettima said the change in the leadership of the armed forces turned the tide of the war against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Shettima who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Usman Shuwa revealed that the state government has embarked on the massive reconstruction and rehabilitation in 16 out of the 22 local governments affected by the crisis,Â adding that progress of work is at advanced stage.