BY NDAHI MARAMA, MAIDUGURI
Two thousand and forty four homes have so far been reconstructed in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno state formerly occupied by Boko Haram insurgents.
The insurgents had destroyed one hundred and one thousand homes in Mobbar out of the 150,585 homes in the council. Majority of the over 100,000 houses destroyed are in Damasak and some villages near the headquarters. The world Bank, European Union, the Presidency and state governments in the six states making up the northeast, undertook recovery and peace building assessment on extent of insurgent destructions in all local government areas in the six states.
The list of houses so far reconstructed was announced when Governor of worst affected Borno State, Mr Kashim Shettima visited Damasak on Wednesday.
Mr Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno’s Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of insurgency victims told Mr Shettima what his ministry was able to achieve using funds released by Shettima.
The state has rebuilt 1,600 mud houses, 450 block houses and 16 public structures including General Hospital, schools and police stations, Zulum said. He explained that other rebuilding works were at various stages of completion. The projects were carried out through Direct Labour in order to save cost, employ locals and source available raw materials around the location.
Briefing Governor Kashim Shettima who went round sites of reconstruction in Damasak, Zulum said, since the governor gave an order for the complete reconstruction of Damasak during his first visit, and after the town was liberated by troops, the ministry swung into action to immediately resettle thousands of displaced people who have willingly returned home.
His words: “So far, we have reconstructed at least 80% of the whole structures destroyed by Boko Haram sect in this town.
“From the breakdown and records available which I will officially hand over to you with names of beneficiaries, we have reconstructed about 1600 destroyed mud houses, 400 block households, 16 public structures including General Hospital, schools, Palace of the District Head, Government Lodge, Local Government Secretariat and police stations.
“Although, we are now having some challenges like lack of funds, I can assure you that as soon as we get another approval and timely release of funds, we will complete the remaining reconstruction works for resettlement of our people in the next two months.
“Already, works are ongoing, some of the houses were completely renovated, some are awaiting roofing, or painting. All the names of the owners are written in the documents I handed over to you for your approval and distribution”. Julum told the governor.
Shettima who was highly impressed with the level of work, the massive return of people and the adequate security put in place, promised to release more funds for speedy completion of reconstruction work not only in Damasak, but also in all the communities hitherto destroyed by insurgents across the state.
Addressing the people, he said; “I am highly delighted with the progress of work here in Damasak. This town which is a border community with Niger Republic which produces the largest number of pepper and onions all over the country has an economic potential not only to the people here, but to the Government. We are aware of the agricultural activities among our people, which provide 95% employment opportunities and income generation.
“I can assure you that, as the rainy season set in, we are not only rebuilding and resettling our displaced people, but also provide agricultural inputs such as tractors, fertilizers, insecticides/pesticides to encourage modern farming in this part of the state.
“Yesterday, we were in Bama, a town that was also completely destroyed. I was there to officially commission 12 public structures newly reconstructed by the Victims Support Funds, VSF under the Chairmanship of General Theophilus Danjuma in partnership with Borno state Government.
Our goal was for our people to be able to return to Bama like you willingly did before this Ramadan. Unfortunately, this is not feasible because the military is still carrying out operations in some areas around the Sambisa forest as part of mop up exercise. But we are doing an excellent job in the reconstruction process everywhere.
“We will continue to work with security agencies to review situations. Our number one priority is the security and safety of our people. We will not allow any IDP return to any community that we have not regained 100% safety like Bama. But I am happy with level of security and peace amongst thousands of those of you who have returned to Damasak”. Shettima said.
The Governor while appealing to other displaced people of Damasak to return home and ensure that they all obtain their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs in the ongoing registration exercise, however paid glowing tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Armed Forces for their roles in securing Borno which paved way for ongoing reconstruction and resettlement work.