Nigeria: Boko Haram: One Can Travel 300km Without Seeing Human Activity in Borno North - Senator

28 November 2020

Abubakar Kyari says the Borno development plan will succeed because it has the backing of the people of the state.

Abubakar Kyari represents Borno North Senatorial District in the Senate.

His constituency is one of the largest in the country in terms of landmass and has 10 local government areas.

The damage caused by the ongoing Boko Haram conflict has left Borno North as one of the most affected. All the ten local government areas were destroyed by the insurgents, who still use some of the areas, including the shores of Lake Chad, as their stronghold.

Recently, the Borno State Government launched a 25-year-Development Plan as well as a ten-year implementation plan with a view to fast-tracking the return of peace and development of the ravaged state.

The occasion attracted top Borno politicians, business personalities and members of humanitarian organizations.

In this interview granted to PREMIUM TIMES' Abdulkareem Haruna, Mr Kyari spoke about how the development plan will impact the future of Borno with emphasis on how his constituency will benefit from it.

Excerpt: -

PT: What are your thoughts about the recently launched 25-Year Development Plan for Borno?

Kyari: The launching of the development plan comes at the right time, especially with the incumbent governor of Borno state doing all his best to ensure that peace returns to our dear state.

It is timely because we have begun to enjoy relative peace even though there are pockets of security challenges.

The event was a success because, for the first time, we have been able to assemble all the major stakeholders, including many former governors, many deputy governors, former legislators both at the state and federal. That means the majority of the members of Borno State have keyed into the development plan. And when a government policy has the backing of the people, nothing stops such policies from succeeding.

PT: The senatorial district you represent, Borno North, is unarguably the most affected geographic location affected by the 11 years of insurgency in the entire northeast. How would you quantify the losses?

Kyari: The losses are enormous, especially when you look at the human capital, material and physical infrastructures involved. In my constituency, one can travel 300kms at a stretch going, cutting across three local government areas, linking Gajiganna, Gajiram, Monguno up to Baga, and you would not see a single town or village that is still standing. All of these villages, in their hundreds, have been sacked and levelled to rubles by insurgents. What this means is that there are no farming, trading, or grazing activities going on there for many years now. Our people found themselves in a terrible situation that denied them all access to basic needs like healthcare, education and so on. The conflict has destroyed all the secondary and primary schools in the area.

PT: What effort is the government doing to bring back life to these areas especially providing a lifeline for the youth who represent the largest number of those affected?

Kyari: There are two approaches to tackling the issue of youth idleness. And these are providing access to affordable education and supporting them with small and medium scale entrepreneurship. We have grown-up youth who have outgrown the stage of being convinced to go back to school. Rather, empower him or her with some support to engage in small scale enterprise so that they can support their family. And that is captured in the Borno State 25-year development plan, as well as the 10-year implementation plan document which was launched on 14th November. If you take a critical look at the development plan, you will see that 80 per cent of the plans concentrate on human development. By my informed understanding, this has to do with empowering the people with education, entrepreneurial skills and capacity building.

PT: Having gone through years of difficulty and attendant deprivations recently made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you think the people of Borno State can be sensitised to, patiently, embrace and key into a 25 years development plan?

Kyari: Of course, people have gone through hell as a result of the over one decade of insurgency, most especially in my senatorial district that comprises ten local government areas. We know it is not easy to tell a hungry man to be patient; but for us to move forward and out of the woods, one must be ready to make more sacrifices in patience and supporting the government to fix the wrongs caused by the insurgency. That is the reason I have to reiterate my usual call for my constituents and the people of Borno state in general to exercise more patience. It is gladdening to note that the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has what I call a vested interest in tackling the insecurity situation in Borno. And we are even luckier to have a governor who has an unwavering commitment to the welfare of the people. To me, it only requires patience and perseverance for us to overcome the challenges that are in the final stage of being tackled. In no distant time, we will regain our lives back when everyone will return to their respective communities.

PT: A long-time policy like the development plan for a state requires consistency even as the government transits or changes guards. How does Borno intend to make this 25-year blueprint sustainable for compliance by subsequent regimes?

Kyari: Of course, there is no way a deliberate policy for development can succeed without a legal instrument backing it. I am very sure and confident to say that the 25 -year development plan of Borno will be backed by some legal instrument from the State Assembly that will compel succeeding governments to comply with it. What many have not been able to appreciate is that most developed countries have projected development plans backed by their laws. And these development plans become the compass that guides every succeeding administration irrespective of their political platforms, towards the same end.

I am happy to state that what we have launched as our development plan is the idea of our governor but with multisectoral inputs from all stakeholders, which makes it a people document. And the people of Borno State will take ownership of it for years to come.

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