Zulum

…Demands standard gauge on PH-Maiduguri rail line

By Emmanuel Elebeke & Inusa Marama – Maiduguri

The Executive Governor of Borno state, Prof. Babagana Zulum, says his administration would join hands with Federal government to leverage on the ongoing surrender of Boko Haram insurgents to restore peace in the North East region.

 He said the move by the insurgents was a welcome development for which a decision had been taken by the administration two months ago to fast-track the process  of surrender of Boko Haram members in order to achieve peace in the region.

The Governor dropped the hint on Thursday at the Town Hall meeting organised by the ministry of Information and Culture on destruction of telecommunications and power infrastructure in Borno state.

“The ongoing surrender of Boko Haram is a welcome development. Two months ago, we took a decision that will ensure that we leverage on the process.

“So far, thousands of them have surrendered. We have been receiving tremendous support from Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police and DSS, and others at ensuring the success of this  very process.

“Governments at state and federal level are working to establishing a sustainable framework that will ensure proper handling of this process and Mr. President has promised to support this initiative,” he said.

On vandalization of public infrastructure in the state, Prof. Zulum said the residents had been subjected to live in total darkness since January when the telecoms and power facilities were brought down by Boko Haram.

“The scourge of vandalisation of power and communications infrastructure in the country is unacceptable. Power and communications infrastructure play a critical role in  development process and is invaluably central in the achievement of a sustainable growth and development in the country.

“They are bridge between the government and the governed in line with the principles of participatory democracy. Insurgents sometimes in January this year planted explosives devices and detonated them on some of the high tension wires supplying electricity to the state, leading to the power lines. This culminated to the darkness being experienced in the past months. This has been a harrowing situation, especially for those who depend on constant electricity  for their livelihoods.

“After the first destruction of the power lines, we mobilized resources to effect necessary repairs both at the Federal and state level. After spending millions of Naira, the excitement was short lived as the insurgents, 24 hours later destroyed the repaired lines along with other facilities which subjected the people to despair and hopelessness.”

“At the initial stage, the state government alerted the federal authorities of the destruction of the power lines with the imperative of effecting immediate repairs in order to restore regular power supply to the state.

“Since it is virtually impossible to provide 2 protection to power lines in the state or any other part of the country, it has become a matter of technological imperative for the Federal government to look into the possibility of deploying technology to protect physical infrastructure.”

“Our citizens should also be sensitized so that they will have moral obligation to protect all government infrastructure in their domain, in view of the huge investment the federal government is making in Rehabilitation of neglected infrastructure and construction of new ones across, the task should not be left for the federal government alone, it is a collective responsibility.”

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While, commending the Nigerian Armed forces for their support being given towards resolving the lingering security challenges in the state, the Governor however, thanked the President for directing NNPC to provide them with alternative power supply, which according to him would be completed in few months time.

“I commended President Buhari for approving the establishment of alternative power supply to Borno state through the NNPC. Just few days ago, the contract for the installation of thermal energy station in Maidugiri was signed by the NNPC and contractors, very soon, the contractors will mobilize to site and the project will be completed in the next 6 months.

“The president has directed the Federal Ministry of Power to look into the possibility of providing 150 megawatts of solar energy plant in Borno state to ensure sustainable power supply to the state.

The state government will provide the necessary support to the officials of the Ministry of Power to achieve the objectives.”

He further appealed to President Buhari to upgrade the proposed Port Harcourt-Maidui rail line from single to standard gauge for optimal benefit to the people.

According to him, standard gauge line is more desirable for the people of the state and the nation at large and urged the Minister of Information and Culture  to prevail on the President to consider the request.

“My sincere hope is that Port Harcounor Zulum rt – Maiduguri rail way will also be given the desired attention by the federal government.

“We are looking for standard gauge from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. As the spokesperson of the Federal government  my hope is that my request will be channeled to the president for consideration.”

He called on all stakeholders  to contribute towards  the course of ending insecurity not only in Borno state  but in the entire region and country at large and to forestall future occurrences.

Earlier, the minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed commented the ongoing destruction of public infrastructure by hoodlums across the country which he described as a sabotage to government efforts to fix our decayed and moribund infrastructure.

He called the citizens to compliment government’s effort in securing public infrastructure.

The minister informed that the federal government was borrowing funds to build world class infrastructure and not for recurrent expenditure.

The minister, who was reacting to critics of the government who said that the borrowed funds were meant for recurrent expenditure, said that contrary to what critics believed, government has achieved  so much with the borrowed funds in the areas of rail line upgrade, road construction, airport upgrade, power and other infrastructure repairs among others.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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