Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara saturday unveiled a masterplan to expand the present Maiduguri metropolis.
The governor equally ordered the construction of a community outreach office in Auno, about 60 kilometres from Maiduguri.
Under the new Maiduguri metropolitan plan, the Maiduguri metropolis is to extend to Auno on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway.
At present Maiduguri metropolis comprise Maiduguri Metropolitan Council and a large part of Jere Local Government Area (LGA)
After assessing the project yesterday, Zulum said housing estates sited in Njimtilo and Auno and other projects on the way was initiated to eventually expand “Auno to link up with Maiduguri through developmental housing projects.”
Auno, is a town, along Maiduguri/Damaturu Highway, which had been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram.
Zulum noted that the building of an outreach office for him in the town is to attract increased security and rebuild public confidence in Auno town.
While giving the directive for the construction of a community outreach office in the town, the governor promised to use the office, on completion, from time to time.
Among the projects the governor assessed are two 500 housing units, one in Auno and the other in neighbouring Njimtilo, also along the Maiduguri/Damaturu Highway.
In February, Auno came under heavy attack by Boko Haram leading to deaths of 30 passengers, a carnage that attracted a sympathy visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to Borno state.
As a result of the series of attacks on the town, many of its residents have continually fled into the state capital Maiduguri.
Zulum, who currently operates two offices, at the government house and the state’s secretariat, said the new outreach at Auno would not be only an office.
Also, the governor noted that it would be a place he would be operating for the purpose of having direct interactions with the residents at Auno, and nearby communities in Konduga and Kaga Local Government Areas.
He said: “Auno is not far from Njimtilo, Mainok, Benesheikh and Ngamdu, all highly populated communities, on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway.
“The completion of the outreach, the governor expects will boost public confidence especially as he intends to be using it from time to time, Zulum noted that it was “to encourage those that have left to come back.”
“As I have earlier said, Auno is a very strategic town, but because of the lingering security situation in Auno, most of the population have relocated to Maiduguri.
“Auno is only six kilometres away from the Borno State University, dislodging Auno would mean dislodging Maiduguri which has more than half the population of Borno.
“We have to take measures to secure Auno like we should do for all parts of the state. I am establishing a community outreach that will be used by me and I will be regular here,” the governor explained.
The governor, while addressing few people left in the town, directed the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement to immediately provide food items and cash to those currently living in the town.
He said: “While fighting against COVID-19, we have to be very careful of other sectors, Auno is an agrarian community, and it is now a raining season, people need to go back to their farmlands. Most of the people in Maiduguri use to farm in Auno, it is therefore, imperative on us to focus more on Auno in terms of security provisions.”
Meanwhile, the governor has appealed to the Nigerian Army to relocate its formation from its existing location to Auno Secondary School, which is ahead of the town.
He said this would make residents to feel safer while also calling on the Borno State Police Command to increase police presence in the town in order to strengthen civil authority.
Also, Zulum inspected projects sites where a total of 1,000 houses are being built. At Auno, he inspected 500 resettlement houses being built by the ministry of reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement for internally displaced persons, IDPs.
At Njimtilo, in the outskirt of Maiduguri (geographically in Konduga), Governor Zulum inspected another ongoing 500 housing estate constructed under the supervision of a high powered committee that is led by the state’s deputy governor.
Zulum was also at the Borno State University where he inspected ongoing road and staff housing projects. Both projects were at advanced stage.