About a week after doling out N325 million to 100 households in the northern part of Borno, Governor Babagana Zulum was in Bama on Wednesday to oversee the distribution of N200m and food items to another set of over 70,000 displaced households.
The raw cash and food distribution which has now become a monthly affair keeps the governor regularly out of Maiduguri, the state’s seat of power.
The Humanitarian Times can confirm that the governor has in the last eight days distributed cash worth about half a billion naira as palliative to IDPs in remote headquarters of local government areas.
This serial distribution of cash to a non-productive sector eats deep into the state’s finances.
Half of a billion naira can comfortably construct a 2km Road in Nigeria. According to a report put out, recently, by World Bank, the cost of constructing 1 kilometre of road is about ₦238 million.
Though Governor Zulum’s continuous sharing of cash to IDPs may be solving the deep-seated hunger in camps, experts strongly believe “it is not sustainable”, and may further distress the state’s fragile economy.
But the spokesman of the governor, Isa Gusau, said the cash donation becomes necessary because “the displaced persons have been denied access to their farmlands, markets and other means of livelihood for years as a result of the over a decade long insurgency.”
Mr Gusau who issued a press statement emphasized that “Zulum’s sustained humanitarian intervention, which is combined with agricultural activities to create livelihoods, is part of a multidimensional approach to deny Boko Haram opportunities of using social and economic means of recruiting fighters from displaced persons.”
He said Wednesdays cash and food distribution, was the latest in series of such exercises,
During the distribution, every 40,000 female heads of households received two packets of sugar, a wrapper and a token of N5,000 amounting to N200 million naira.
30,000 male heads of households each received a bag of rice, a bag of maize grill and a carton of spaghetti.
While addressing the beneficiaries governor Zulum said:
“We share your pains and we are appealing to every one of you to continue with the prayers for peace to return to our dear state.”
Since the beginning of mass displacement of people by the insurgents, nearly 3 million persons have been forced to flee their homes to camps.
The state government has earlier targetted end of May 2021 as the deadline for relocation of IDPs to their “reclaimed” communities – a target that for now seems a tall dream, giving the escalation of hostilities in many parts of the state.