Borno State to spend N150m to rehabilitate 53 escapee girls, parents

Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, yesterday announced that the state
government would be spending N150million for the rehabilitation of the 53
chibok girls that escaped from Boko Haram captivity as well as their
parents whose source of livelihood was affected by the abduction, Sahara Reporters reports.

The Governor made this announcement when he received the
Presidential Fact Finding Committee on the missing girls in his office
yesterday. Gov Shettima decried the notion by some people that the
missing Chibok girls was a scam or that it was a staged attempt by the
state government to stop emergency rule extension in the state. Continue…

He
called out former Minister of Aviation, Kema Chikwe for casting doubts
on the authenticity of the abducted girls. He said the missing Malaysian
plane was a good example of what is happening now, saying that with all
the theories mounting up of the possibility that the passengers are
dead, rescue efforts with massive investment is still going on in the
search of the missing plane.

“Now, while that is going on, here is Nigeria, there was a report that
over 200 human creatures, young Nigerian girls about completing their
secondary school education, were attacked in their school at night and
whisked away like slaves in ancient years. And some Nigerians, one of them a former Minister and one time
member of the Federal Executive Council which is the highest decision
making body of this country, worst of all, a woman and a mother, came
out to cast doubt over the abduction of these girls. That woman
completely disregarded the sensitivity of that issue, the pains of the
agonizing parents and our pains as a Government, to whom, the parents of
these girls, cry out in desperation, unimaginable confusion and
anguish. Every other unreasonable Nigerian that came to adopt that view,
only anchored the unfortunate position that was first expressed by Mrs
Kema Chikwe.” he said

The Governor also revealed
that since the beginning of this year, N1billion has been spent on
the rehabilitation of people and places that have experienced attacks
from Boko Haram.

“In this year alone, we had spent close to one billion naira on
victims. In Gwoza, we spent two hundred million naira for reconstruction
of
destroyed houses, markets, places of worship and to provide cash to
victims so they could have something to rely on in the immediate term to
feed themselves and families or start small businesses in the interim.
In Bama, we spent three hundred million for same purpose; in Konduga we
spent two hundred million naira” he said

Full text of his address to the Presidential Panel below

Schoolgirls Abduction: What Governor Shettima told Presidential fact finding committee today (Tuesday) in Maiduguri

Highlights:

*N150m (about one million dollars) earmarked by Borno State
Government  for medical counseling etc of 53 freed girls and material
support to grieving parents who have been unable to focus on sources of
livelihood

* Explanations on the decision above

* A. Committee enlarged to work with all stakeholders and international organizations on support to freed girls ‎and parents

“In the last three years, we have witnessed the most turbulent of times
as a people. I have seen very terrible incidents as a Governor. I have
come across innocent citizens of Borno killed in thousands, some
slaughtered by fellow human beings who think they earn rewards from God
by their brutality. I have witnessed high scale of destructions
inflicted on us as a people in Borno by fellow human beings who again
think they earn reward from God by their intentional and planned
devastations. I have in the last 36 days, also come across a situation
where men abducted young, innocent schoolgirls, separated them from
their education, from their parents, from their relations and friends
and from their environment and more disturbing also, attempted to
separate them from their own religion out of compulsion. To every other
Muslim, worldwide, these men that kill, destroy and abduct, insult Islam
by calling themselves Muslims. They have contradicted every single
tenet of the Islamic religion. They have in some cases, tried to change
the ordained translation of verses in the Holy Quran. To every Muslim, a
verse of the Holy Quran has clearly said that there is no compulsion in
Religion. But to these men of violence, there is compulsion not only in
religion but even in Islamic ideology. To these men, any human who
doesn’t share their ideology deserves to be brutally killed. A Muslim
that is of not of the Boko Haram sect is condemned to death and so is
Christian. To them, the human race should go into extinction for their
doctrine to thrive.

Borno has seen evil times. Our people have suffered. At times, when I
lament this carnage in the midst of some associates, they remind me
that I didn’t create Boko Haram, that in fact, I inherited it in 2011
when I was sworn-in amidst near complete breakdown of security in
Maiduguri, the largest and most populated part of the State. But I
normally say to them, that a leader is elected or appointed to solve
problems, it doesn’t matter whether the leader created the problem or
not. A leader is elected to find solution, this is governance. There is a
whole difference between Politics and Governance. In politics, you tell
the general public and victims about a problem, you tell them the
gravity of the problem; and with emphasis, you tell them who to blame
for it. But in Governance, you identify a problem and work hard to solve
it. Unfortunately for us in this interesting country, we all appear to
lay more emphasis on politics than on governance. The Chibok incident,
for me, has grossly exposed our weighty weakness as leaders in terms of
assuming our shared responsibilities.

In the last two or three months, the entire western world mobilized
men and resources, contributed so much funds in the search for a
Malaysian airline which is believed to have crashed into the ocean.
Majority in the western world, suspect that the crew and passengers of
that Malaysian airline are most probably dead. Despite that, massive
investment was and still being deployed in the search for whatever can
be found as remains of those in that plane and its wreckage.

Now, while that is going on, here is Nigeria, there was a report that
over 200 human creatures, young Nigerian girls about completing their
secondary school education, where attacked in their school at night and
whisked away like slaves in ancient years. And some Nigerians, one of
them a former Minister and one time member of the Federal Executive
Council which is the highest decision making body of this country, worst
of all, a woman and a mother, came out to cast doubt over the abduction
of these girls. That woman completely disregarded the sensitivity of
that issue, the pains of the agonizing parents and our pains as a
Government, to whom, the parents of these girls, cry out in desperation,
unimaginable confusion and anguish. Every other unreasonable Nigerian
that came to adopt that view, only anchored the unfortunate position
that was first expressed by Mrs Kema Chikwe. Doubt over that abduction
pained me as much as the incident its self. Doubt over that abduction
pained me far more than the childish theory, that as Government, we
staged that abduction in order to create basis to stop the extension of
emergency rule in Borno. By the way, that theory doesn’t make the
slightest sense. In relation to that theory, if a Government doesn’t
want extension of emergency and chooses to fake happenings, the
Government should rather deny that the abduction ever took place, evil
as that is, because the abduction is enough basis for the emergency
extension given the fact that the incident puts a message across that
there is new and big threat to students in schools hence the need for
extension of emergency rule. Then, there was the issue of saying Chibok
was not safe and we went ahead to open the school. Majority of these
students are from Chibok axis, if the school was considered unsafe, I
don’t think any right thinking parent would allow his or her child to
study in an atmosphere of high risk. But I will reserve some of my
comments for a closed door session with this respected committee.

It hurts me however, that there was no kind of politics that was not
introduced into that unfortunate Chibok incident. Even religion was
brought in, all for the purpose of blame trade.

The politics didn’t help anybody at the end of the day. Soon after
that incident, we thought that our 53 daughters that either witnessed
that attack or escaped from abduction be flown abroad for psychological
counseling and some medical examinations. But then, with politics of
doubt over the abduction, if the State Government had flown these 53
girls abroad, the doubting thermoses would have gotten what to fly about
to claim that the 53 girls were none existent or they would have
probably said, we were taking the girls away from the public, probably
we had something to hide. While we do much, providing crucial support to
security agencies and volunteers in order to prevent attacks, we have a
policy in the State, that where attacks occur, we provide immediate
material support as palliative to victims of insurgency. In this year
alone, we had spent close to one billion naira on victims. In Gwoza, we
spent two hundred million naira for reconstruction of destroyed houses,
markets, places of worship and to provide cash to victims so they could
have something to rely on in the immediate term to feed themselves and
families or start small businesses in the interim. In Bama, we spent
three hundred million for same purpose; in Konduga we spent two hundred
million naira. Unfortunately, we had to hold what we should have done
for Chibok because of the politics brought in. If we had released some
material support earlier, some bad elements would have said we tried to
buy the people of Chibok. Unlike other communities in which private
houses and markets were destroyed, public institutions like the school,
council secretariat, the residence of the council chairman and some few
shops were destroyed in Chibok.  Communities didn’t suffer material
losses. But then, from our immediate thoughts when the attack took place
and also based on our recent discoveries, most of the parents of these
abducted girls have nothing to eat, they are so traumatized that they
have abandoned their sources of livelihood. No true mother would easily
concentrate on any line of business when her daughter is in the hands of
violent abductors. The same it is for most fathers. I have a
girl-child; I know the psychological connection between the girl-child
and parents. One can hardly even pay the required attention in prayers
due to the perpetual trauma of having one’s girl-child in dangerous
hands. So, are we going to continue to ignore these suffering parents
and the 53 girls just because we are afraid of political accusations and
false interpretations? The answer is NO. Governance is beyond the fear
of accusations, Governance entails making a decision with sincerity of
purpose and for the good of the society.

The Borno State Government will set aside the sum of one hundred and
fifty million naira to fund a rehabilitation programme for the 53 girls
and to support parents in Chibok whose sources of livelihood have been
truncated by their trauma, leaving them with little or nothing to feed
while we continue to work immeasurably for the release of the girls
being held. The State Government is already in touch with key
international organizations and a plan of action has already been
proposed by the Ministry of Health in the State on issues relating to
the health well being of the 53 girls as well as their colleagues soon
as they are freed insha Allah. We are very optimistic that they will be
freed. We have a quiet committee headed by the State’s commissioner of
health, she is a female medical doctor with specialty in reproductive
health, she has experience in female advocacy with International
contacts on the issues before us. We may need to enlarge the quiet
committee to have all relevant stakeholders that include Chibok elders,
PTA of the school, Security agencies in the State, the National
Association of Nigerian Students, the association of Borno Students, the
female wing of Christian Association of Nigeria, the Federation of
Muslim Women of Nigeria, the district head of Chibok, some civil
societies and specialists in psychological counseling etc, so that we
move on while we must all work very hard in collaboration with the
Federal Government to ensure the release of our daughters, given them
medical care, counsel them, reintegrate them and ensure they are given
the right to complete their exams.

Mr. Chairman, members of this important Committee, the Borno State
Government is committed to sincere and active collaboration with the
Federal Government and all other support groups in our collective fight
against insurgency.

In continued collaboration, however, we must trust each other’s
sincerity of purpose. I see misconception about those behind Boko Haram
as one major hindrance to fighting the insurgency. So long we continue
to look the wrong way on who is or are behind Boko Haram, there would be
lack of focus on the part of most stakeholders and in which case, the
victims would remain the accused.

I wish this committee of respected men and women of impeccable
character, a successful endeavor and I am confident that this committee
has integrity, enough to guide it towards finding the facts on the
attack of April 14, 2014 at Government Secondary School, Chibok.

I thank you for listening as I look forward to meeting you for a closed door session.
May God free our daughters from captivity and May He grant us eternal peace in Borno and the entire Nigeria”

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