Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State yesterday directed newly-appointed caretaker committee chairmen in the affected local governments to begin administrative activities in the reconstructed or temporary secretariats.
The remaining three councils are to operate satellite secretariats at the Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs’) camps in Maiduguri.
An ongoing military operation in Borno has led to the restoration of normalcy in 24 of the 27 local government areas of the state.
Speaking at the inauguration of caretaker committee chairmen for the councils in Maiduguri, the state capital on Friday, the governor said the move was preparatory to the return of civil authority at the grassroots as a post insurgency response.
Most of the councils were for the larger part of the six year bloody conflict between the Nigerian State and Boko Haram insurgents, remained a ghost town as socio-economic activities were grounded to a halt, forcing government officials to flee their duty posts. Residents too abandoned their homes.
Most of the local governments were also under the control of the extremists but thanks to a renewed military operation by the Nigerian military, in conjunction with the military forces of the Lake Chad Basin countries (Chad, Niger and Cameroon), Boko Haram Terrorists have been dislodged while towns and villages are being reclaimed in the process.
Governor Shettima said the chairmen would work with the deputy governor, commissioner for local government and emirate affairs, commissioner for reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement and security agencies “from their reconstructed council secretariats”.
“They can also set up satellite secretariats in any vacant public infrastructure or at any IDPs’ camp with the highest population of citizens at the headquarters of their councils”, he added.
He said the secretariats, whether at permanent or satellite locations, must be functional with chairmen and council officials operating from there and accessible to the people.
The governor specifically mentioned those councils, whose chairmen are to operate from reconstructed or satellite secretariats at their headquarters as: Kaga, Jere, Damboa, Konduga, Monguno, Askira Uba, Chibok, Ngala, Kala Balge, Mafa, Nganzai, Dikwa, Gubio, Magumeri, Biu, Shani, Bayo, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar and Maiduguri Metropolitan Council.
He noted that Bama and Marte would operate two secretariats each, with the chairmen rotating their presence between Maiduguri to serve the IDPs and the local government headquarters in Bama town and Monguno.
“Gwoza should also operate two satellite camps, one in Pulka, which has the highest number of Gwoza citizens. The other satellite secretariat should be in Gwoza town.
“The chairman should operate from Gwoza. Kukawa is to operate two satellite camps, one in Baga, which has many citizens and another one in Monguno to serve other citizens living in Maiduguri”, the governor explained.
Shettima said the satellite secretariats should be stationed in IDPs’ camps in Maiduguri for use by Abadam, Mobbar and Guzamala local governments “due to military operations around their headquarters”.
He, however, expressed profound joy at swearing-in the chairmen.
According to him, “Today is the first time I am happy in the last two and a half years. Let me start by making a confession this morning. I had tried to maintain smiles and wear cheerful faces every time caretaker chairmen of the 27 local governments were sworn-in as we did a while ago. Today (yesterday) is the very first time since 2014 that I am really happy while presiding over the swearing-in of caretaker committee chairmen of the 27 councils.
“In the last two and a half years, I have been sad but I portray cheerfulness to give people hope. I do want to dampen their spirit. The trying times we have had require that a leader should demonstrate courage and strength that will inspire the people to see our situation as normal so that they will overcome fears and threats. That was why I smiled in the midst of our tribulations.
“Today I’m excited because as far as I am concerned, for the first time in nearly three years, we have just sworn-in chairmen that will serve as bridges between our recovery and the return of civil authority in the majority of our local governments that were under insurgents”.