Rebuilding Borno with sense of purpose

Rebuilding Borno with sense of purpose

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Relocating temporarily the seat of Government from Maiduguri to Bama, a one-time active and tourist destination of Borno state, which has been reduced to a caricature of itself, almost beats human comprehension. This is more so when Boko Haram are yet suspected to be lurking around the city and might spring surprise from nowhere.
The coming of the Boko Haram sect had been more of a baptism of fire for Bama. Both the police station and the military barracks in the town were attacked resulting in several causalities. The climax came on May 7, 2013 with an unprecedented onslaught on the town, resulting in death of 64 persons, including three soldiers, 22 policemen, 14 prison officers and 21 insurgents.
Apart from this heinous crime, Bama was for sometime a centre of carnage. The town experienced deaths from the incessant bombings and other inhumanities visited on it by the insurgents. At the end of it all, it became what could be likened to Shakespeare’s “architecture of ruins”, “a landscape of homesteads, severed limbs, tattered lives, ravaged farmlands and looted barns”. Bama’s legacy, this time, was that of orphans, widows and devastation.
So, why then did Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State on Wednesday, September 21, along with some of his aides, relocate to the ravaged and dreaded Bama? No one knows and no one may ever know why he embarked on this risky venture.
However, from his speech on getting to Bama, a deduction could be made. Hear him, “My office is now here. I decided to relocate here to supervise reconstruction works. I will administer Borno state from here. I am fully prepared to be here for days to come: one week, two weeks or even more. I will not leave until we are able to rebuild a good number of private houses, municipal buildings, markets, schools and clinics. untitled“We cannot wait till forever before we reclaim our destiny. Bama is one of the worst affected areas and we will move from here to other parts of the state. While I am here, we have a full structure of Government in place operating in Maiduguri so that activities of managing IDPs, civil service, implementation of government policies and programmes will continue while I am here. I will be in constant touch with Maiduguri, I came prepared,” Shettima said.
Besides the reasons adduced by Governor Shettima for his action, his relocation is expected to have profound impact on the on-going reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement scheme. While the new direction is expected to fast-track all activities aimed at relocating all the Internally Displaced Persons to their respective communities, it equally reveals the seriousness of the governor to actualising the May, 2017 deadline he announced for the return of IDPs.
The Governor’s action has also allayed the fear that some areas of the state were no longer safe not to talk of being inhabited. If Bama, one of the most ravaged towns by the insurgents could be reconstructed, rehabilitated and the IDPs subsequently resettled, it is possible in every other place. Above all, his action reinforces the confidence of the international community and private donor organisations in the ability of Nigerians to take their destiny into their hands.
Already members of the Borno State House of Assembly, led by its Speaker, have paid a solidarity visit to the governor in Bama, commending him for his initiative.
While in Bama, Governor Shettima has inaugurated a 500-member Civilian Joint Task Force and vigilantes, made up of men and women recruited from the locals in the town to assist the military in intelligence gathering as well strengthen the security in the area. He also inspected on-going reconstruction work on schools, hospitals, the Emir’s palace, residential homes, police stations and other infrastructure.
From the available evidence in Bama and in other parts of Borno destroyed by the insurgents, it is clear that the work on ground far outstretches the financial muscle of the state and federal government. With official estimate of about 1.9 trillion naira damage of infrastructure, loss of thousands of lives and about two million IDPs, external assistance is imperative.
Bama which is today the headquarters of Bama local government council was at a time both Bama Divisional and Dikwa Emirate headquarters. It is the second largest city in Borno, coming next to Maiduguri, the state capital. A commercial town, Bama is the gateway to Banki, the boundary town of Nigeria between Cameroun on one side and Chad Republic on the other. As a matter of fact, the volume of trade and commercial activities going on in the region are of immense magnitude to the economy of Borno and beyond.

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