MAIDUGURI, North-East, Nigeria – Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, and humanitarian partners were on Thursday in Banki, Bama Local Government Area, where N84m was distributed to 2,200 returnee families, and also commissioned municipal offices housing Immigration, Customs, and Police posts towards restoration of civil authorities in the area.
He informed that the funds were to enable the families engage in trading for their livelihoods, and to contribute towards reviving of town’s economy.
According to him, the livelihoods support and municipal office projects were executed by the State Government through the UNDP’s Regional Stabilization facility (RSF).
He added that the visit to Banki a border town with Cameroon was with the UNDP’s resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mohammed Yahaya; UN resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon; Director General for Africa at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Heike Thiele; Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Lein Eliiv; among others.
Zulum moved to Banki after a multi stakeholders meeting attended by eight Governors within the Lake Chad, officials of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, multi national forces, among others, held in Yaounde, with focus on security cooperation, stability, and economic recovery in the Lake Chad region.
Banki town was sacked by Boko Haram in 2014 and Zulum who had been there at different times, has been making efforts to resuscitate the town with hundreds of shelters now built for returnees.
Speaking at a brief ceremony, Zulum, said the support was to assist many residents who have completely lost their means of livelihoods, and expressed delight that normalcy was fast returning to the town; pointing out that the support aimed to indirectly impact on not less than 10,000 dependants of beneficiaries.
“We are here this afternoon to support communities in Banki through the regional stabilization facility. People of Banki have completely lost their means of livelihoods. Few months back, Banki was a ghost town,” he said.
He recalled that the first phase of the cash for livelihood support program was flagged off two months ago, during which each of the beneficiaries went home with N40,000 each.
The UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP’s Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, commissioned the buildings for Customs and Immigration Services, and a reconstructed Police Station and Barracks to enhanced the restoration of civil authorities in the town.
Eziakonwa said, restoration of livelihoods and commercial activities across the border communities gives her joy, and assured their support to the Borno State Government towards restoring peace.
She commended Governor Zulum for his leadership and commitment and efforts to restore normalcy. “I see hope in the faces of the people who are here. I see hope rekindled, I see energy and interest, and motivation to restart their lives. This gives me alot of joy, because development does not come from outside, it comes from within.
“I want to salute the Governor here for his leadership in supporting the restoration of hope and livelihood for this community. We are very proud to be supporting and coming behind the Governor to make life better and bring back hope to this community.
“We look forward to the next stage of the stabilization programme, and hope that we will really help end insurgency and bring peace to Borno State,” Eziakonwa said.
On her part, Director General for Africa at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Heike Thiele, said “we have witnessed good progress towards stabilization today. The interventions under the Regional Stabilization Facility have not only contributed to the restoration of safety but have also helped strengthen the economy by enabling cross-border trade and movement”.