•Say Boko Haram inflicts $9 billion-damage in northeast
By Iyobosa Uwugiaren
Worried by the magnitude of human, economic and physical destructions caused by a terrorist group, Boko Haram, in the North-east, especially in Borno State, the National Commission for Refugees and Migrants and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have initiated a project towards the restoration of livelihoods of all displaced persons and institutions in the affected areas.
The intervention according to CBN and the commission, is based on the ‘’Post Insurgency Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on the North-east,’’ which was jointly validated by the World Bank, the European Union and the Borno State Government, suggesting that Boko Haram has inflicted damages to the tune of $9 billion in the North-east. Of this amount, the destructions in Borno State alone were put at $6 billion.
At the launch of the initiative tagged “Project Reliance” yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Refugees, Senator Basheer Mohammed, said the programme is geared towards making every displaced person in Nigeria self-reliant.
According to the commission’s presentation, this includes everyone who has lost their home, their livelihood and those who have sought refuge in the country.
In line with the design of the project, which is being sponsored by CBN, every selected beneficiary will have the opportunity to choose from more than 50 vocational skills, trading, farming and other businesses.
‘’The applicant will also receive training, a starter pack and startup capital to become economically self-sufficient under Project Reliance. That is why we are here today for the verification of over 350, 000 IDPs in Borno State for the launch of this noble empowerment project,’’ Mohammed said.
Praising CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who he said has ‘’tremendously’’ done well in reducing poverty through development finance in Nigeria, the commissioner stated that Nigeria has more displaced persons in Borno State than in any part of the country.
He said: “Precisely, there are over 1.5 million IDPs in Borno State alone, and another 400,000 plus citizens of the state who have fled to neighbouring countries due to insurgency.
‘’As a commission, through our various interventions and needs assessments, we recognise the pains and challenges each of you have endured immensely. Some of you have been in IDP camps for over a decade.”
He said that a total of 956,453 private houses representing 30 per cent of the total number of houses in Borno State were destroyed across almost all the 27 local government areas while a total of 665 municipal buildings comprising ministries, local government administrative buildings, prisons and police stations were destroyed in Borno.
The commission added: “While 5,335 classrooms and other school buildings were destroyed in 512 primary schools, 38 secondary schools and two tertiary institutions were destroyed in the state. Also 201 health centres, mostly primary healthcare clinics, dispensaries and General Hospitals were all destroyed.
‘’The insurgents also destroyed 726 power substations and distribution lines and destroyed 1,630 water reticulation systems. Across 16 local government areas of the state, the insurgents bombed parks, gardens, orchards, game reserves, Green wall projects and poisoned ponds, rivers, lakes and also stole over 500,000 cattle.’’
He explained that all these were in addition to setting ablaze markets, large scale farms and hundreds of trucks that evacuated farm produce for international export to neighbouring countries, saying that today, hundreds of renowned successful farmers and transporters have become extremely poor and dependent on food aid.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering commitment to the plight of displaced persons in Nigeria, adding that the commission is drawing the inspiration from his love and concern for them.
‘’Our focus on ensuring a strong lasting solution to the issue of accessible livelihoods was borne out of Mr. President’s desire that the government alleviates the long-suffering faced by vulnerable people in Nigeria.
‘’It is not only symbolic but befitting that we are starting this Project in Borno State, I am extremely proud of the Governor for his passion and commitment to the will of the people. Especially in going above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done’’, he added.
The event was attended by the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; the Shehu of Borno, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi; and the CBN Governor, represented by Mr. Anthony Ifechukwu.