Scale of destruction in Bama, Konduga have humbled me – Lai Mohammed
* Described Nigerian soldiers as unsung heroes
* As reconstruction begins in recaptured areas
By Emmanuel Elebeke
MINISTER of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has showered encomiums on Nigerian soldiers for what he called their gallant fight and bravery in dislodging the elements of Boko Haram in Bama and Konduga LGAs of Borno state, saying that the December deadline given by the President will be achieved.
The minister gave the commendation, yesterday, during an official visit to Bama and Konduga Local Government Councils of the State. Mohammed who led a team of information reporters to the visit said, he was humbled by the high scale of destruction and damages left behind in the areas by the insurgents as well as the palpable suffering and poverty undergone by the surviving victims of the Boko Haram war.
He commended the Nigerian army for rising to the occasion when it mattered most in restoring the integrity of federal government by rooting out the insurgents and the ongoing efforts to recapture the remaining areas before the December deadline. “They are very happy about what we are doing and are very committed to restoring peace in North-East and unity of this country. We went to Bama and Konduga and saw firsthand, the scale of damage and destruction that the Boko Haram terrorists left behind.
“It humbled many of us, and we all came back very very sober. I hope that with this visit, my colleagues in the media will show more restraint, more understanding in reporting the efforts being made in the war against terrorism. We are also confident that by today, we are much more informed about the corruption war,” he said.
On the visit to the IDP camp in Bama, where the team saw the victims of the war, old people, women and kids, the Minister lamented the impact of the war on the victims, and promised that government would do everything possible to rehabilitate them soon. ”Many of them they are victims of war they did not know about and many of the kids were their clapping without understanding what were being said. We saw abject poverty with sorrow, fear in the eyes of all the people there.
“I must publicly commend our military because it takes one to believe here the enormity of challenges they are facing. They are not only winning the war against insurgency but are also winning the peace, and even the humanitarian burden is probably heavier than the military burden. I saw a soft side of the commander of the Theatre, who was moved by the condition of the IDPs and suggested that the kids be adopted to reduce their sufferings.”
He lamented that these kids are going to sleep in this harsh weather but I promised that we are going to come back soon, to address their plights through resettlement and reconstruction,” he added.
State government’s effort
On the effort being made by the state government to assuage the suffering the people, the Minister lauded the state Government for taking the initiative of commencing the rebuilding and reconstruction of the damaged areas.
He also commended the Governor for creating a special ministry for to fast-track the rebuilding process and assured him of federal government’s support.
“Because of the premium the Governor had placed on the plight of the victims, he had created a new ministry in his cabinet office called Ministry of Reconstruction and we saw traces of reconstruction in Bama and Konduga: The markets, maternity complex, LGA headquarters that was razed down under reconstruction among others.
“These are clear evidence that peace is gradually returning to North-Easter, Borno state in particular. It takes one to be there to appreciate how the Governor has combined governance with the reconstruction of destructions by insurgency. This was possible because of the bold decision he had taken in area of agriculture, empowerment, education, health and environment. I am confident that in few months time, everything will be brought to normalcy,” the Minister said.
Responding, the Governor assured the Minister that come 2nd January, 2016, the State Government would commence rebuilding of Bama with about 1,000 houses and 108 in Konduga.
The Governor, while commending the Minister for the visit, however took a swipe at former information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku, who he said never visited Borno State to ascertain the veracity of damages but went about commenting about the activities of Boko Haram without firsthand information.
According to the Governor, who described the visit as historic said, the past Ministers of information since 2009 failed in their duties for misinforming Nigerians about the activities of Boko Haram until Lai Mohammed broke the jinx to enable him avail federal government and the public on the true position of things on ground, particularly the level of successes recorded by the military.
“The fact that the President and Vice superintend over the functions of the ministers, does not erase the strategic role of the information Minister. With the continued declaration of war on the North-East, particularly, the Borno state since 2009, the most important duties of every Minister should be the Boko Haram mayhem.
“And for a minister to get the right information on the activities of Boko Haram, can only be derived by a visit to Borno State, which has been the epi-centre of the crisis.
“The former Minister of Information (Maku) had been speaking about Boko Haram, even going to the media to cast aspersion on the state government. Since 2009, Boko Haram started, no Minister of Information, I repeat, no Minister of Information ever visited Borno state until December 5, 2015, Lai Mohammed visited,” he observed.
According to Governor Shetima, the Minister is not the only information to visit Borno, but also the first under the APC government to visit