By Michael Olugbode
Despite incessant attacks on his convoy by Boko Haram terrorists during his resettlement exercise recently, the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, is still going ahead with his resettlement plan in six towns of the state, which were deserted by residents at the peak of the ongoing security crisis in the state.
A statement issued by the spokesman of the governor, Mallam Isa Gusau, yesterday, said the governor has inaugurated two committees to complete ongoing reconstruction works and facilitate the full restoration of civil authority comprising policemen, Civilian JTF, local government officials, and magistrate courts in six towns located in Marte and Gwoza Local Government Areas of the state.
The statement said the two committees, which have security officials among the members, are to undertake resettlement at Marte in Borno North as well as Ngoshe, Kirawa, Hambagda, Ashigashiya and Warabe in Gwoza LGA of Borno South, but after all safety measures and essential public services are put in place.
The committee on Marte is chaired by the state Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR), Mustapha Gubio, while the committee on Gwoza is chaired by the Commissioner for Housing and Energy, Saleh Vungas. Members of the two committees also include representatives of communities and humanitarian actors.
According to the statement, Zulum stated at the Government House, venue of the inauguration, that “the committees are to continue with the rehabilitation and reconstruction works in Marte and Kirawa/Ngoshe to undertake palliative repairs of Marte and Ngoshe/Kirawa roads in collaboration with the soldiers of the Nigerian Army, in order to put in place all requirements that will ensure safety of lives and property of returnees; facilitate the establishment of civil authorities on ground; identify IDPs willing to return home, and address any other matter that is incidental to the smooth return and safety of lives and property of the returnees.”
The governor was said to have explained that the state resettlement drive is aimed at helping citizens pick up the pieces of their lives and move on, after many years of displacement.
He promised that the government would help the returnees to engage in agricultural and other economic activities that will make them self-reliant and be meaningful members of the state.
Zulum also decried the high level of poverty in the state, particularly within the IDPs, which he said the insurgents took advantage of to recruit a lot of able bodied youths in the state.
Zulum, who said he was very mindful of the security situation in the state, however, asked the committees to carry out their duties with all sense of responsibility.
He said: “We should not be in haste. We should not force anyone to return. Although there is an increasing demand from the IDPs to return home, don’t force anyone.”
Responding on behalf of both committees, Gubio, the RRR Commissioner, assured them that they would all put in their best in discharging the assignment.
In a similar development, Zulum has commended Baga committee for setting a good precedent. He also commended the Nigerian military for supporting the resettlement drive.