Shettima inspects 2,000 homes in Damasak ready for returning residents

Two thousand and forty four homes have been reconstructed in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area a former stronghold of Boko Haram insurgents in northern Borno State.

The insurgents had destroyed one hundred and one thousand homes in Mobbar out of the 150,585 homes in the council headquarters before their occupation.

Majority of the over 100,000 houses destroyed are in Damasak and some villages near the headquarters.

The world Bank, European Union, Nigeria’s Presidency and Government in the six States making up the north-east, Nigeria undertook Recovery and peace building assessment on the extent of insurgent destructions in all local government areas in the six states before reconstruction.

The stock of houses so far reconstructed was announced when Governor of the worst affected Borno State, Kashim Shettima visited Damasak on Wednesday.

Professor Babagana Umaru, Borno’s Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of insurgency victims told Shettima what his ministry was able to achieve using funds released by the Governor.

The state has rebuilt 1,600 mud houses, 450 block houses and 16 public structures including General Hospital, schools and police stations, Umara said.

He explained that other rebuilding works were at various stages of completion adding that the projects are carried out through Direct Labour in order to save cost, employ locals and source available raw materials around the location.

Briefing Shettima who went round sites of reconstruction in Damasak, Umara said, since the governor gave a matching 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 to pick the peices of their lives.

His words: “Your Excellency, so far, we have reconstructed at least 80% of the whole structrues destroyed by Boko Haram sect in this town.”

“From the breakdown and records available which i will officially hand them 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 posity 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, raftering or painting. All the name of the owners are written in the documents i handed over to you sir for your approval and distribution”. Umara told the governor.

Shettima who was highly impressed with the level of work, the massive returns of people and the adequate security put in place, promised to release more funds for speedy completion of reconstruction works 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 that is been practiced among our people, which provides 95% employment opportunities and income generation.

“I can assure you that, as the rainy season sets in, we are not only rebuilding and resettling our displaced people, but also providing 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 jobs 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 the level of security and peace amongst thousands of you who have returned to Damasak.” Shettima said.