Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Bornu state says his administration has spent over N5 billion in procurement of agricultural equipment as part of the renewed strategy to return the state back as food basket of the nation.
The Governor disclosed this, while speaking on the topic, Mitigating the Impact of Crisis and Conflict, at the just concluded National Economic Summit, in Abuja.
He said that the administration saw the need to invest in agriculture since it became obvious that going into food production remained the only solution to the humanitarian and food crisis in the state and other states in the region.
According to him, with the procurement, the state will soon deploy the tools into various agricultural purposes to boost food production for local consumption and export.
‘‘We have to invest in the midst of crisis. This informed my decision to spend over N5 billion on agricultural implements after a prophesy that price of oil would fall in 2015.
‘‘Unless we wear our thinking cap and come up with solutions for challenges confronting us, we will face disaster in future, because pervasive illiteracy, endemic poverty and over population, which are common in our place are recipes for disaster.
‘‘We are determined to change the face of history, return peace in Bornu with limited resources and with support of federal government and private sector in wealth creation, job creation and gender empowerment, girl child education and infrastructure development,’’ the Governor said.
Governor Shettima, used the occasion to announce the administration is working hard to close down all Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps in Bornu state by May, 2017.
Governor Shettima, who attributed the emergence of Boko Haram in the North East to what he called inequality between the rich and the poor, said his administration was determined to close all IDP camps next year to forestall further dehumanization and abuse of orphans and widows, particularly the girl child.
He explained that the state government had embarked on three key action plans to address the challenge posed by the current humanitarian crisis facing the state and the rest of the North Eastern part of the country.
‘‘We have a plan to close down all IDP camps in Bornu state by May, 2017, the federal government is a senior partners in this enterprise. This is why I spent one week in Bama to ensure that this objective is achieved. ‘‘We will have to really set the pace for the federal government to key in.
Federal government is in charge of all the federating units, they may not know the challenges on ground in Bornou better than us. That is why we have to show the way. So, when we start something, definitely, they will key in and support us. ‘‘The real problem of the North East and the nation has to do with inequality.
Nigeria is ranked as one of the countries with highest population of IDPs. The emergence of Boko Haram was a result of extreme poverty. And this emergency is also a culmination of so many unrests that have been on for long time ago,’’ he said, adding that our focus in Borno is to pick up the pieces of our lives.’’
The Governor expressed his determination to return the state to normal life, said he ‘‘we really want to see opportunity that will come out of this crisis. Along this line, we are addressing some issues.’’
The issues according to him include: education, empowerment and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure.
Governor Shettima, who described education as the greatest game changer in addressing humanitarian crisis in the North East expressed optimism that educating the thousands of orphans on the streets of the state would transform them into celebrated icons of tomorrow. His words, ‘‘through education, some of these people today in crisis will be celebrated icons. Our poor access to western education literarily brought us to where we are today. And we are determined to change the narrative, and course of history.
‘‘Believe me, where there is will, there is a way. We are determined to change the face of Bornu. The challenges no doubt are enormous but are confident that we will succeed.’’ Continuing, the Governor said, ‘‘Over 100,000 people were killed in Born state, over 65,000 people were killed in Maiduguri alone, in our IDP camps spread across the nooks and crannies of the state, we have over 50,000 widows, and hundreds of thousands of orphans.
‘‘If we do not take care of them today, in 10 years time, they will take care of us. Apart from reconstruction and rehabilitation, we have to engender gender empowerment for women, encourage girl child education.’’ He then assured that his administration will vigorously pursue the issue of girl child education and base ownership of the houses being build for the IDPs on the men and the women occupy. ‘‘I must admit that our men are very irresponsible.
If you base the ownership of these houses on the men, there are two likely scenarios, send the wife away and bring a 13 year old girl in or the relocate to Maiduguri and become a politicians.
Other discussants at the session urged Nigeria to see this crisis as an opportunity to attain its economic and growth potentials. ‘‘When you see this crisis as an opportunity, you then invest in infrastructure, special services, invest in communicating with the people in a manner that they will see government actions as Nigerian project, said Kenyan Permanent Secretary Julius Korir.
He also urged Nigeria to engage the private sector to allow them contribute its quota through Social Corporate Responsibility, CSR. According to him, there is a benefit in responding to crisis in business, noting that it is not about charity but about investing wisely, about ensuring that all wise opinions are put into consideration in decision making process.