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Borno State’s staggering losses

Daily Trust reported last week that Borno State lost 20,000 citizens and suffered property damage worth $5.9bn [or N1.9 trillion at parallel market exchange rate]…

Daily Trust reported last week that Borno State lost 20,000 citizens and suffered property damage worth $5.9bn [or N1.9 trillion at parallel market exchange rate] due to the Boko Haram insurgency. The computation was done in the Post Insurgency Recovery and Peace Building Assessment report initially prepared by Borno State Government officials which World Bank officials vetted and issued a Preliminary Validation. This staggering figure of losses represents an estimate of the value of public and private property damaged by insurgents in the state’s 27 local government areas.
According to this grim report, of the 3,232,308 private houses in the state, 956,453 or 30 percent were destroyed by insurgents. Worst hit is Mobbar local government where out of 150,585 private houses, 101,085 houses were destroyed. Abadam, Guzamala, Bama and Gwoza were said to follow in the scale of destruction, with more than 80 percent of the houses in Bama local government destroyed.
The report also said 5,335 classrooms were destroyed in primary, secondary schools and two tertiary institutions. Bama was worst hit with 519 classrooms destroyed in 92 schools while Gwoza followed with 420 classrooms affected in 70 schools. School buildings were destroyed in 24 of the 27 local governments.  In addition, 201 health centres, mostly primary healthcare clinics, dispensaries and some General Hospitals were damaged. Boko Haram also destroyed 1,630 water sources. 665 municipal buildings comprising ministry and LGA buildings, prisons, police stations and electric offices were destroyed, as were 726 distribution substations of 11 KV/415V and distribution lines of 415-230 V.
Parks, game reserves, forest reserves, grazing reserves, green wall projects, orchards, ponds, river basins and lakes were not spared; they were either poisoned or bombed in 16 local government areas. In addition, 470,000 livestock were either killed or stolen. On top of the property losses, 20,000 citizens of Borno State were killed while majority of the two million persons internally displaced as well as thousands of others who took refuge in neighbouring countries are from Borno State.
These grim statistics alone suffice to give the whole world an idea of the havoc caused in this country by Boko Haram. The background to the report is that World Bank asked the states most affected to compile their losses according to a provided template and to submit their reports for verification. Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi and Taraba states were also asked to make submissions which would be verified by World Bank officials.
While those other North Eastern states also suffered varying degrees of casualties and property losses, nothing could compare to the losses suffered by Borno State which is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency. To lose 20,000 citizens, with thousands more injured in addition to property damage in trillions of naira is a calamity of historic proportions. It has set this centre of a thousand-year old civilisation back by many decades, if not hundreds of years.
It is the duty of the international community to step in forcefully and ameliorate these losses. Doing so is a humanitarian duty but it is also enlightened self interest. Every expert who spoke about the remote causes of Boko Haram mentioned poverty and illiteracy as major contributing factors. Therefore, this is a chance for the world as a whole to chip in and help these hapless victims of the insurgency back on their feet. Not only that, it is also a chance to fast track the region’s development process in order to ensure that misguided militant Islamist ideology does not again take root in the region, with devastating consequences for the whole world.
In addition to the World Bank, we urge rich Western nations, Scandinavians, oil rich Arab states as well as our friends in Asia, notably China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Koreas to come to the aid of Borno State in whatever area they choose. The time for the world to act is now.

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