CATAI, Swiss Government Provide Lifeline  To Victims of Maiduguri Market Fire

By Abdulkareem Haruna 

On February 26, 2023, a devastating fire outbreak occurred at the Maiduguri Monday  Market in Borno state, leaving about 30,000 traders with nothing but ashes of their goods and shattered dreams. 

Hope came alive for the victims when a local NGO, the Center for Advocacy, Transparency, and Accountability Initiative (CATAI), in collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland in Nigeria, came to their rescue. The NGO provided food items to 100 selected beneficiaries and cash of N50,000 to 50 designated beneficiaries. 

The Executive Director of the Network of Civil Society Organizations in Borno (NECSOB), Comrade ABISO, who attended the event on Wednesday, commended CATAI for their timely intervention, which he described as “a lifeline to the victims of the fire disaster.” 

Abiso called for more support from philanthropic individuals and organizations to help the victims recover 

The Chief Executive of CATAI, Muazu Abubakar Sadiq, said the palliative measures were meant for the most vulnerable peasant traders, including men, women, youth, and persons with special needs. He also noted that the selection process was done with utmost transparency and fairness to ensure that the support reached those who needed it the most. 

He said the Ambassador of Switzerland in Nigeria, who was in Maiduguri recently to assess the damage done by the fire outbreak, expressed his sympathy to the affected traders and assured them of continued support from the Swiss government. He emphasized that the short grant provided was to enable people to bounce back immediately since their businesses are their source of livelihood. 

“The support targeted those who lost their livelihood in the fire outbreak, especially those whose business capital was below N200,000,” he said. 

Officials presenting a symbolic cheque of N2.5 million to the beneficiaries

“Out of the hundreds of victims of the market, we carefully selected the beneficiaries to include vulnerable men, women, youth and persons in need of special care,” he noted.

The former Head of Borno Civil Service, Steven Malgwi, a member of the market rebuilding committee, also spoke to the affected traders. 

He urged them to see their misfortune as a test from God almighty and to use the intervention well. He encouraged them to be resilient and work hard to rebuild their businesses.

One of the beneficiaries, Alhaji Ibrahim Muatapha, a disabled trader from Maiduguri, expressed his appreciation to the NGO and the Swiss government for reaching out to them during their time of need. 

He noted that the support would go a long way in helping him “to rebuild his business and take care of  family.” 

Adama Shaibu, a widow and mother of nine children, lost her business, cooking food vending during the fire outbreak. 

“It has been a difficult period for my family and me, and I am grateful to receive food and these items to take home. 

She thanked the NGO and the Swiss government for their kindness and generosity. 

The fire outbreak at the m market is a stark reminder of the need for disaster preparedness and response in Nigeria. It highlights the vulnerability of traders, particularly those in informal markets, to disasters such as fires. Government and other stakeholders must ensure that traders have access to the necessary resources, including fire safety equipment and training, to prevent and mitigate the impact of disasters.

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