Since I became Governor of Borno State and inherited the Boko Haram insurgency in May, 2011, there is one African proverb that inspires me. The proverb is actually from the Kanuri ethnic group in Borno which explains that being in a State of torment, a State of hopelessness, being a victim of war and destructions, being in lack of virtually everything life should offer are not the worst of situations on earth. Rather, the worst situations are to lack anyone that shares in your pains and moments of despair; to lack anyone that cares about what you feel and how you feel; to lack those who are ready to offer you shoulders to cry on and to lack those who show not just love and empathy but who go as far as standing by you side by side and helping you to fix yourself and your ruins block by block.
In the midst of our tribulations in Borno State, we have remained resilient because we have got people like all of you hear and many that are not here, who have stood by us and with us, shared our pains, advocated for us and have been making profound contributions in helping us rebuild our lives as a people of Borno State. And I will tell you today, ladies and gentlemen, that because of your love, firm support and partnership over the years, we have built in us, an indomitable courage that defies and defeats the mission and vision of Boko Haram to send us into extinction in order to institute senseless violence in place of sensible liberty.
I welcome everyone to this gathering which is deliberately held in a small room to depict the fact that we are here as a family size with sincere hearts that seek to fuse in rebuilding the ruins in Borno which has suffered the most in the insanity of Boko Haram.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we speak, we are battling with a crisis of feeding mass of humanity in Borno. The Military has succeeded in rescuing communities that we trapped due to presence of Boko Haram insurgents on certain routes. This cheering rescue has led to mass exodus of internally displaced persons from these trapped communities to emergency camps we had to establish. In Borno today, about 1,800 bags of 50 kilograms of rice which constitutes three trailers of 600 bags each, is required DAILY to cater for internally displaced persons across the State and this does not include ingredients like tomatoes, vegetable oil, beans to balance carbohydrate, onions, salt and other elements. For our regular camps, a total of 984 bags of rice is consumed daily based on a Data Tracking Matrix of the International Organization on Migration working with the National Emergency Management Agency and the Borno State Emergency Management Agency. This figure of 978 bags is for the camps in Maiduguri and Jere, Dikwa, Bama and Damboa. For Maiduguri and Jere, 787 bags of rice are consumed Daily for the 152,000 displaced persons in 17 camps and two relief points at Madinatu and Muna Garrage where distribution of food items are made to IDPs living outside camps in Maiduguri. For Dikwa which has 75,000 displaced persons, 101 bags are required daily. Bama requires 50 bags daily for 32,000 displaced persons while Damboa requires 40 bags daily. These are as per the Data Tracking Mtarix of the International Organization on Migration.
There are areas where interventions are made on bi-weekly basis. In Gwoza for instance, two trucks totaling 1,200 bags of rice are conveyed every two weeks which comes down to 85 bags daily. In Banki, the same 1,200 bags in two trucks are conveyed every two weeks.
At Ngala where we have 7,000 persons in camps and 60,000 living around communities with no source of food, a minimum of 140 bags of 50 kilograms of rice is consumed daily. In Monguno which has 48,000 IDPS from both Monguno and Marte, 60 bags are required daily; in Baga and Kroskawa, 58 bags are required daily for 33,000 IDP’s. In Sabon-Gari, 21,000 IDP’s require 40 bags daily while Nganzai has the least which is 1,300 displaced persons. Beside population, consumption is also dependent on ratio of women and children who consume less than men.
Only yesterday, the International Community of the Red Cross and Red Crescent which has been of unimaginable humanitarian support to Borno, conveyed 33 trucks, each carrying 600 bags of rice, to intervene on feeding and this after an initial 37 trucks donated by the same ICRC have been exhausted. The World Food Programme has been of great help and so are the American Government through the USAID, the United Kingdom through the DFID, the Norwegian government, the UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, with the fall in oil revenue, I really don’t know what would have happened to us if President Buhari hadn’t come on board because until May, 2015, the Borno State Government was shouldering the most responsibility of feeding the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons despite dealing with emergency support and resettlement of attacked victims which we had to do to avoid victims joining insurgency out of protest. We had huge salary bill of 2.67 billion naira monthly, our economy had collapsed and we had to provide critical services like water, healthcare in addition to making huge interventions to support federal security agencies in fighting the Boko Haram insurgents. The previous Federal administration branded us as distant cousins, we were left to our faith except with negligible intervention. It was after the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari that the National Emergency Management Agency fully took over in supplying the main food items which is rice while we provide the condiments. Of course, the international community like the USAID and humanitarian organizations supporting us in different ways. The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has just approved the release of 21,000 bags of contraband rice seized by the Nigerian Customs along with vegetable oil and some clothes which we are trying to move from Lagos to Maiduguri this week. I left Maiduguri for Lagos yesterday to supervise the evacuation of the food items because I wanted to be to confront any bottle neck that would be required to fast-track the evacuation.
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The program note we received from Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, the Chief Executive Officer of AOA Global who has graciously made me a co-host, described today’s gathering as being “about working together…to develop practical roadmaps for Rebuilding Peace in Borno and creating a template to strengthen economies, create jobs, provide access to affordable healthcare, education and eliminate hunger and poverty. I believe that these are very lofty ideals which very much correspond with the tasks facing the government and people of Borno state today. And as a matter of fact, they encapsulate the sentiments that have driven the passion with which the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari has worked to find speedy resolution to the insurgency in Borno and the commitment with which the president has continued to search for answers for our people to return to a livelihood of peace building, rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustained economic development. A cursory glance at the list of eminent people invited to brainstorm on the topic of Rebuilding Peace in Borno, reflects the seriousness of purpose of this gathering. We are convinced that at the end, very useful ideas would have been suggested, debated and accepted by consensus for the ultimate benefit of our people.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
The Boko Haram insurgents have been recognized by the world as perhaps the most violent of all the insurgent groups of recent times. It is more violent than ISIS; more vicious than El-Shabab. Boko Haram is an intolerant and most inhumane terrorist group with an ideology that has a medieval determination to destroy everything in human society. Our losses have been colossal. From a recent Post-Insurgency Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on Borno State which has been accepted by humanitarian and international development stakeholders, we have lost about 20, 000 people in the years of the insurgency; material losses amounted to about $5.9billion (approximately N1.9Trillion) which include destructions of 956, 453 houses, 5, 335 classrooms and other school buildings; 201 health centers, mostly primary health clinics, dispensaries and some General Hospitals; 1, 630 water supply sources; 665 municipal buildings, comprising ministries and LG buildings; prisons; police stations and electricity offices; 726 power distribution substations; 16 parks, game reserves; green wall projects; orchards; ponds; river basins and lakes either poisoned or bombed in addition to 470, 000 livestock that were either stolen or killed. Our state capital, Maiduguri now hosts about 1.7 million Internally Displaced People. This is addition to the fact that the insurgency has made economic activity practically impossible, and almost nonexistent in most of our local government areas. Agriculture suffered; animal husbandry was fatally disrupted; fishing became impossible and people could not trade. Even communication suffered, as the terrorists attacked and destroyed communication masts; roads were mined and people had to flee for their lives thus destroying the fabric of communal existence and the uprooting of community ethos. This frightening scale of destruction was visited upon people who in the best of times are some of the most disadvantaged in Nigeria! But that is the nature of the beast that is Boko Haram.
This is the backdrop against which several initiatives to end the insurgency have been unfolding. Today’s gathering must also be located within this broad ambit of efforts to assist the Rebuilding of Peace in Borno. It is important to acknowledge that we can gather to talk about peace and processes of rebuilding of our communities, only because our armed forces have played a very gallant role in systematically degrading the Boko Haram terrorists and as President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to re-iterate, our soldiers have technically defeated the terrorists. We will like to commend the officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces and Multi national forces for the sacrifices they have made over the past six years to bring us to where we are today.
The Borno state government is rebuilding communities destroyed by the insurgency. We are giving a priority to the rehabilitation of basic infrastructure in these communities; water supply is being reconnected; boreholes are being rehabilitated; schools are being rebuilt; health centers are being brought back to be able to serve people. In May, we hope a launch an aggressive Post-Insurgency Agricultural Based Rehabilitation and Empowerment Programme which will require us deploying different agro machinery and implement including food processing equipment all of which are worth over 30 billion naira, already imported and delivered to us.
Our society is overwhelmingly young and it is how we can assure them of opportunities that afford them a livelihood and self-esteem that will help to accelerate the re-building of peace in our communities and state. It is clear to us, that we need the whole world to rally round us, through the provision of the levels of assistance that can help us to accelerate the peace building, rehabilitation and reconstruction of Borno. We are happy to report that our international partners are beginning to realize that they have a very important role in the rehabilitation of our state. Just two weeks ago, I received the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Fatma Samoura, in Maiduguri . She announced that the World Bank was setting aside the sum of $800million to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, as well as de-mining, waste management and debris processing. The humanitarian response plan for the entire Northeast region has a budget of $248million for 2016, of which $24million, or ten percent has been released. We are happy that these initiatives are beginning to become part of the overall effort at rehabilitation in our communities. But you will all agree with me, that $800million is a drop in the ocean, in a state that has lost almost $6billion as a result of the insurgency. We need far more support from our international partners to be able to complete the rebuilding of our communities. We are aware, as the African peasants used to say, that our rice will cook in our pot; we would have to be responsible for our own development in the long run. Yes. And the Borno state government and the Federal Government are determined to mobilize the resources to ensure a post-insurgency development of our state. But this is an interdependent world today; and we have seen the types of linkages that terrorist groups are building to sow terror in Nigeria; in the Sahel; in the Maghreb and in the Middle East. They have struck in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire; they have attacked France and Belgium. And Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Daesh (ISIS). It is these troubling scenarios that present the imperatives for the world to rally round Nigeria, in the fight against Boko Haram, as well as in the effort to reconstruct and build peace in Borno state. Your gathering today, is a major step in the journey to roundly defeat the Boko Haram terrorists, as well as assisting in rebuilding peace in our state. We are very grateful for your support and partnership and we thank you most profoundly for being here and to my sister, Dr Alakija, we are indeed grateful for your initiative and we look forward to rebuilding Borno together with everyone here.
Thank you very much for your attention!