Five thousand people displaced by insurgency, who indicated interests to return to safe and reconstructed communities, Friday received N500million when the Borno State governor, Prof Babagana Umara Zulum, showed up around 5:45am at a government-controlled temporary settlement, fondly called ‘Bakassi Camp’ in Maiduguri.
The governor’s special adviser on public relations and strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, noted in a statement that Zulum, who spent seven hours coordinating food and cash aid, arrived unannounced, mainly to meet and support the most needy and homeless victims.
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According to the statement, some persons have the habit of being at camps from morning to evening, pretending to be completely homeless, while at night, they sneak to some homes outside the camp.
The ‘Bakassi Camp’, which is an uncompleted government estate along the Maiduguri-Damboa road, has been occupied by displaced persons from Monguno, Gwoza, Guzamala and Marte local government areas.
Many women at the camp have been giving birth to children, some of them almost annually, the statement said.
Zulum said in his remarks that the camp was becoming a permanent culture and making some citizens become totally reliant on aids that were not sustainable; hence the decision to encourage safe and dignified resettlement with livelihood support.
“Out of the N500m shared, each man and woman (mostly widows) heading a household received N100,000, two bags of 25 kg rice, a carton of spaghetti and five liters of cooking oil.
“Married women received N50,000 cash each, even after their husbands each received N100,000 and food items listed above,” the statement added.
The governor said while the Borno State Government provided the N500m shared to the beneficiaries, the federal government, through the North-East Development Commission (NEDC), provided a chunk of the food items distributed to them.
While at the ‘Bakassi’ camp, Governor Zulum, in the presence of Borno’s head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Mr K. Vedahraniy, said that although the state government planned to close all camps in Maiduguri by December, no displaced persons should be forced to relocate to any community.
He directed that all resettlements must be voluntary, noting that people who choose to live in any part of Maiduguri or elsewhere would be provided with livelihood support to find place and live a productive life, rather than depend on aid at camps.