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‘Reconstructing Borno is a global challenge’

The extent of mass destruction of public and private property, businesses, infrastructure as well as general day to day life of the people of Borno…

The extent of mass destruction of public and private property, businesses, infrastructure as well as general day to day life of the people of Borno state by Boko Haram insurgents, is beyond what the state and the Federal Government can execute, as the destruction was total and a challenge to the entire global community, the people of Borno state have told Daily Trust.

The  years of Boko Haram hostilities in the North East region have  left several public  institutions like schools, hospitals, markets, police stations, local government secretariat buildings, as well as roads, Bridges, culverts and even electricity poles supplying light to the Maiduguri and other parts of Borno state, totally destroyed.
The private owned infrastructures are also not spared as palaces of all the emirs in the state with the exception of the palace of the Shehu of Borno and emir of Biu, all others were attacked and largely destroyed by the insurgents, who also attacked and destroyed mosques, peoples’ houses, farmlands and every other infrastructure in sight.
At a point, the state government had to suspend academic activities in public primary and secondary schools in the state capital, and send all the students back home to accommodate families displaced by the insurgents from different parts of the state.
A Borno based academician, Architect Zanna Kyari said the damage done to infrastructure by terrorists in the state, was such that the people of the state will be forced to leave the entire state due to total devastation of public and private infrastructure, thereby letting the insurgents claim victory.
“I expect the entire world to come together and rebuild Borno, thereby sending a very strong signal to the terrorists that they have not achieved anything. What I disagree with is the resolve to pay all attention on infrastructure neglecting human development. The terrorists are condemning western education in totality. Let the federal and Borno state government focus on giving Borno children qualitative education, and help them to excel in life so that a strong signal will be sent to the terrorists that education is the only way.
“Build industries and employ youth that decide to go to school, and let the terrorists start envying them. It will be disastrous if we allow those youth that refused to join the terrorists to waste away. The governor should make it a law for every local government council in the state to sponsor certain number of its indigenes every year to read Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering and so on.
“We are lacking such professionals in this region. In eight years we can produce enough professionals that the state requires. When you fight illiteracy, address poverty by training people that will graduate as professionals, certainly you would have solved 50 percent of the problems of the state,” he said.
Also speaking to this reporter, immediate past State Secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Umoru Baba Goni said the state under the present administration has recorded some remarkable achievements that have helped a lot to douse tensions, the governor requires a lot of public support and assistance to achieve more.
“I wonder if you have taken note that despite several years of insurgency; in fact, Governor Shettima took over the mantle of leadership as governor of the state amidst Boko Haram insurgency, and that is what is still happening. Despite that, he has not failed even once to pay workers salary as at when due.
“Under the same insurgency situation, he has built so many estates in Maiduguri with a total of about 10,000 standard houses. Despite the destruction of electricity poles that led to power failure continuously for over eight months, he ensured that he provides  street light daily from 6pm to 6am. These were great reliefs to the people. Our situation could have been terrible if any of those things were not there.
“My suggestion to him is that he should partner with international donor organizations to rebuild the state. Let him take his time and tell them areas we require their support, and urge them to come in and do the much they can do for us. It is the desire of the terrorists to destroy everywhere and watch us live in distress. The world should come together and rebuild a better Borno, so that the terrorists will realize that they have not achieved anything,” he said. 

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state said his administration will partner with the Federal Government and other development partners in the reconstruction and resettlement effort considering the magnitude of the destructions which virtually means that the state would have to start afresh.
“There are extenuating circumstances which prompted us to re-direct the policy decisions of the state government in 2016 to the issues of rehabilitation and resettlement of the thousands of victims of the insurgency, and the reconstruction of infrastructural facilities as well as public and private buildings callously destroyed by the insurgents across the length and breadth of the State.
“As we are all undoubtedly aware Borno State, for the past six years has been embroiled in an extremely complicated and unconventional security challenge brought about by the Boko Haram insurgents. You may recall that since the crisis started in 2009, the challenges had become more complex, while the attendant violence increased in scope and lethality. 
“Consequently, our people were unacceptably subjected to calculated and deliberate attacks, culminating in miserable and excruciating death of thousands of innocent people, and unimaginable destruction of billions of Naira worth of property in virtually all parts of the State. 
“In addition, thousands of our people were forced to relocate to safer places, and invariably became refugees in the neighbouring countries and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the relatively safe areas of the state, as well as other parts of the country. As the violence became more complex and unparalleled in nature and scope, most of our Local Government Areas were overrun by the insurgents and were therefore rendered unsafe. 
“The influx of people, affected by the insurgency in the rural areas, into Maiduguri the state capital alone, increased exponentially to the extent that coping with the situation became a serious challenge to the Government in its determined efforts to implement its policy decisions in almost all sectors. To put the security situation in proper perspective, it is worth mentioning that, in addition to the needless loss of thousands of innocent lives, more than 800 public schools, particularly at the Primary and Secondary levels were completely destroyed. Furthermore, hundreds of institutional structures, commercial properties, shops, residential buildings, Local Government Secretariats, entire markets and whole villages were wantonly set ablaze by the Boko Haram insurgents; thereby subjecting our people to frightful physical and psychological trauma,” he said. 

The governor said the overall commercial activities in the state were grounded to a virtual standstill even as farming activities in the state, on which majority of the people depend for their livelihood, were systematically halted by the insurgency. 
He said in the education sector, apart from the destruction of school buildings, the state government was forced to close down the few public schools which were not affected by the insurgency, in the wake of the kidnapping of the Chibok School Girls, to forestall similar abduction in other schools. 
“In general, our initial assessment indicates that the devastation caused by the insurgency in Borno State is total and almost absolute, in terms of social and economic activities. The above scenario was the ugly fact we were confronted with until when the Buhari administration came to power. Since then the situation is being systematically reversed due entirely to the commendable determination and sheer political will of President Muhammadu Buhari, who, right from the onset, prioritised the total defeat of the Boko Haram insurgency as a cardinal objective of his administration. 
“As a result of the President’s determination and unwavering commitment, coupled with the unrelenting and aggressive onslaught on the insurgents by the military and other security agents, all the Local Government Areas, hitherto overrun by Boko Haram or under their influence, have now been re-captured. The security situation is gradually retuning to normalcy, to the extent that the Federal Government in collaboration with the State Government, has already indicated its desire to return all the IDPs to their original places of abode, early in 2016.
“On our part, we have since commenced the implementation of some policy decisions including paving the way for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the IDPs and the reconstruction of some public structures and institutions. Already schools have been introduced at the IDP camps with considerable degree of success in terms of attendance and the quality of teaching. It is to further consolidate our modest achievement and re-empathize our resolve to profoundly facilitate the process of returning all the displaced persons to their respective homes,” he said.
Governor Shettima said though most of the houses destroyed by the insurgents in the villages were houses locally built with mud, he will use blocks with cement and modern roofs in reconstructing the communities, so that the villagers will also live in standard houses.
He said all the destroyed primary schools now being rebuilt will have kitchens for cooking meals for the pupils, and fitted  with standard furniture such as desks, tables, chairs and modern teaching apparatus in all the schools.
Haje Fatima is a resident of Benishek in the state where the construction of 4,000 housing units for the villagers has since commenced, in addition to a new standard hospital, police station and staff quarters. 
Fatima said if only the new houses being constructed by the state government are going to be distributed to those of them whose houses were destroyed by the insurgents, then her only regret will be her husband and son that were killed by the terrorists attack on the town and not any material loss.

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