The Borno State government has postponed its initial plan to return Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Bama community to their homes following the recapture of the area by the Nigerian military.
Governor Kashim Shettima had during his tour of the community in late 2016 to supervise the progress of reconstruction works there promised that the citizens would return to their homes by May 29 this year.
However, the governor said the May 29 date may no longer be possible following the pockets of attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents, and also given that the reconstruction works have not been completed as envisaged.
Shettima was in Bama on Tuesday to commission 12 public infrastructures that were rebuilt by the state government with the N360 million fund provided by the Victims Support Fund, VSF.
He said: “Our goal was for our people to be able to return to Bama before this Ramadan. Unfortunately, this is not feasible because the military is still carrying out operations in some areas around the Sambisa as part of mop up exercise in the yet to be concluded fight against Boko Haram.
“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.”
The governor noted that when the IDPs return to their homes, they would still need to go to their farms, markets and to travel for economic and social purposes, adding that “we must be sure that farms are safe and routes are safe before we allow our people to return.”
“But even while we do the reviews, we will continue with our aggressive reconstruction works. We will not wait till eternity.
“We are very optimistic that very soon, the entire Borno will be safe enough for full habitation. We look forward to Borno reclaiming peace, security and progress,” Shettima said.
The governor explained that reconstruction works are not only ongoing in Bama but on all parts of the State.
He said: ”For the purpose of setting records straight, I think I should use this opportunity, to once again explain, that we are focusing on all parts of Borno State not just on Bama.
“Our reconstruction works actually started in northern Borno where we rebuilt numerous public and private infrastructures in Kaga local government area. We are currently working in 14 Local Government Areas.”
Shettima however acknowledged that there is a special emphasis on Bama, Mobbar and Gwoza because it “has been adjudged the worst destroyed by the Boko Haram.”
“More than 80% of public and private infrastructures were destroyed by Boko Haram during their occupation.
“Next to Bama in terms of massive destruction is Mobbar. We are currently working in Mobbar.
“We have deployed so much resource so that we also confront the rebuilding challenge,” he said.
The governor expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Armed Forces for their roles in securing Bama which paved way for ongoing reconstruction works.
He also paid tribute to Chairman of the VSF, Theophilus Danjuma and members of the Fund for their prudent utilization of resources at their disposal.
The VSF Chairman who was represented by Tijjani Tumsah, said the management of the fund was impressed with the prudent management of the resources made available to the Borno State government for reconstruction projects in many parts of the state.