– As Zulum Insists Military Must Take War to Boko Haram Enclave
Governor of Yobe state, Mai-Mala Buni, had on Tuesday hosted his colleagues and members of the Northeast Governors Forum for the forum’s 6th quarterly meeting in Damaturu the state capital where he called for greater collaboration for the economic development of the subregion.
Since its formation last year, the Northeast governors usually meet at the end of every quarter to discuss common issues affecting the subregion with a view of peer-reviewing challenges and cross-fertilizing ideas for better solutions, especially to the security challenges.
Delivering a welcome address at the meeting that was held at Government House Damaturu, Governor Buni said the regular meetings of the member governors had demonstrated their commitment to bringing lasting peace and development to the troubled subregion.
“This underscores our collective commitment to free the Northeast sub-region from the clutches of insecurity, poverty and other emerging challenges of development in the aftermath of the over one decade of insurgency which devastated many communities in our states,” he said.
Governor Buni recalled that before the advent of the Boko Haram insurgency, the region had been contending with climate change-related issues which had contributed immensely in deploring the economic status of the people of the region, which also impacted the regions functional private sector businesses.
“The Northeast has to contend with desertification and desert encroachment, low rainfall and drought among other natural factors such as flooding that continued to affect agricultural productivity being the major preoccupation of our people,” he said.
He, therefore, said it is now “a matter of pride for all our States that having realized the magnitude of our common challenge, we have evolved a stronger fraternity upon which we would continue to build a solid bond of brotherhood for socio-economic advancement not only among our leaders but also among our people”.
Governor Buni who is also the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress recognised “the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the able leadership of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for creating the North East Development Commission and for the supply of various relief materials and empowerment packages for the victims of insurgency and all the people in this area”.
He also thanked the INGOs for the support they provided to the region; and commenced the gallant troops for providing the needed security that enabled the process of peacebuilding in the region, even as he noted that “despite the improvement in the fight against insurgency, it is not yet over and therefore, requires re-strategizing and sustenance”.
“In a meeting of this magnitude, we must also continue to appreciate the commitment of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the fight against insurgency and other related crimes threatening the corporate existence of the country, he said.
Governor Buni urged his colleague governors to leverage on the improving security situation to “to intensify efforts in the recovery process and to evolve sustainable means of livelihood to our people for accelerated development”.
He said the meeting has provided another golden opportunity for them to share ideas on laying a solid foundation for a brighter future for our States”.
“The government of Yobe State under my leadership has identified revitalization of education as one of the key areas for post-insurgency socio-economic rejuvenation. We have remained focused on the declaration of State of Emergency at the inception of our administration and the current Education Revitalization Appeal Fund in which we have raised funds above the set targets in most of the Local Government Areas. Simultaneously, we are gearing our efforts towards revamping agriculture to serve as an instrument for the attainment of food security, employment and revenue generation.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the NEGF, Professor Babagana Zulum had in his opening remarks explained that his recent action of banning the distribution of relief items in resettled communities was in line with the forums agreement at the last meeting held at Jalingo, the capital of Taraba state.
The Governor of Borno state said the international community was in the loop of the need to build the resilience and economic independence of the displaced person after over seven years of being in IDP camps.
According to Zulum the decision to halt relief material deployment to resettled locations was taken following a meeting that the NEGF forum had with a British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in Taraba state.
The governor had last week written to the INGO forum to desist taking all kinds of relief to those affected locations.
In response to the issue which had already generated global media reactions INGO forum spokespersons, Camilla Corradin said in an interview granted to AFP report and published by the Guardian in Nigeria that: “Food security and nutrition indicators across Borno state remain a major source of concern.”
“We call on all actors to ensure that, while self-reliance can be developed, food and other relevant humanitarian assistance can continue to reach those in need…If access to life-saving support is not sufficiently scaled up, the UN warned in October, another 13,551 people are anticipated to experience catastrophe-like conditions.”
But Governor Zulum, who is made up his mind about the issue of resettled IDPs getting food and non–food support even though their resettled locations are still IDP camps in larger forms, said that is the only way the economic independence of the people can be strengthened.
“Your Excellencies may recall that the British High Commission to Nigeria, Her Excellency Katrina Lan, was with us at the Forum’s last meeting in Jalingo, Taraba State, to support the regional process of transiting from dependence on humanitarian assistance to socioeconomic self-reliance,” he said.
He added that “it is in line with this principle that only last week I ordered the ban on distribution of food and non-food items in resettled communities in Borno state to further emphasize the significance of self-reliance.
The Governor told his colleagues that by that, and other related actions, they are “indeed on the right track because the forum had since its inauguration made “considerable progress in their collective efforts to bring about viable and sustainable peace and development in our subregion.”
Governor Zulum said what they require to succeed “in this direction” is for the subregional leaders to have a collective resolve and “total commitment to the goals and objectives we have set for ourselves.”
On the issue of the persistent insecurity in the subregion, the governor said “recent developments seemed to have indicated that we have reached the beginning of the end of the insurgency.”
The meeting was attended by Governor Buni and his counterpart colleague of Borno state, Babagana Zulum, who chairs the forum, as well as the governor of Gombe State, Inuwa Yahaya; while the three other governors of Adamawa, Bauchi and Taraba state sent in their representatives.