Reviving Borno’s infrastructure after insurgency

Borno, a frontline state worst hit by insurgency, is set to rise again, writes ABDULRAHMAN A. ABDULRAUF

The scary image of 2018 or thereabout when the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, General Yusuf Tukur Buratai, invited some editors to join him on an official trip to the war-torn Borno state, had always been on my mind. And each time this reporter hears of attacks by the Boko Haram miscreants, it’s usually heart-rendering. During that trip, the editors saw destruction of human lives as well as the infrastructure at its worst.

 A gory picture of the fate that befell our hard fighting troops (as painted  by the guide), whenever they fell into the hands of the enemies, registered, almost permanently. That befuddling state of mind and mental siege with which this reporter became so obsessed, remained until the last trip to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

Arriving the airport Thursday, May 16,2024, one was beginning to wonder how people still lived their lives happily despite the many reports of attacks people read, watch and listen to on all media platforms, including social media.

From the airport right into the heart of the city, features of a normal life were all that could be seen. Queues of motorists waiting to buy fuel just like it obtains in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and other parts of the country. What does that tell discerning observers? Life is gradually, nay, speedily returning to normalcy in Borno, the once upon a hotbed of insurgency.

New life

Maiduguri, like it was before the disruption of its life, has suddenly become more enchanting, hospitable and very welcoming of its visitors, just as the Alanguro sprit of respect, remains matchless. On the whole, an enthralling spectacle of a people who are fast putting behind them those gory days of senseless killings and bombings, has become a common place in Maiduguri, the widely acknowledged home of peace and even tourism. The state is set to rise again!

Like a professional engineer that he is, Governor Umara Babagan Zulum is reengineering the infrastructure reawakening of the state. And just like Abuja, a drive round the capital city of Borno and some parts of the suburbs, revealed a facelift of no mean magnitude. Driving from one end to the other, one is faced with gridlock, not a consequence of bad road, but that of massive infrastructure development going on across the length and breadth of the state.

Another ongoing project is Kano/Jos Road, the ring road to connect the over 100-kilometer Mulai Dambuwa road. When completed, the ring road would have successfully immersed Auno into Maiduguri, and link Gubio, Chabal and Bagga road.  

From the provision of housing, education, health and human capital development, it is work, work and work for the workaholic governor. At Gidan Madara Monday market, through to Kojan Biu Babanline, Makira, linking Budum, Baga road up to Sheu’s Palace, crossing over to the third flyover, a picture of true hope renewal persistently stares one in the face.  The administration has completed two flyovers within four years (2020-2024), and promising to complete the third  by 2025.  

And of these projects, one that readily catches attention is the massive, very ambitious and gargantuan Borno State University Teaching Hospital (BOSTH), an ongoing project which when completed, is likely stand out as one of the biggest of its types in Nigeria.

In the area of housing, the administration carved out metro quarters, a beautiful edifice, for the use  of  federal civil servants based in the state, same with doctors’ quarters along the airport road roundabout, and the sprawling 500-unit Housing Estate, located beside Borno State University.

And to underscore the premium the administration places on education, secondary schools have their classrooms fitted with air conditioners to make the environment conducive for learning. Examples of such schools, as observed aby Blueprint, are Government Technical College/Secondary School Mjimtilo and Babagana Wakil Integrated Islamic Higher School, both in Maiduguri.

…Fulfilment of social contract

More than anything, the execution of these projects, is to Zulum, akin to walking the talk and fulfilling a social contract with the people.

“In fulfilment of our electioneering campaign promise to ensure urban renewal of some major cities in Borno State, especially Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, the government of Borno State is serious about uplifting and upgrading facilities within the Metropolitan Council.

“We have constructed two flyovers; this will be the third one and, Insha Allah, before we leave office, we will ensure the completion of all the structures we have initiated,” the governor said recently while flagging off the third over.

Giving Zulum’s  plan of  targeting the construction of 85,000 new houses across 66 communities in the state to quickly resettle the Internally Displaced Persons (DPs) and other victims of Boko Haram insurgency, then one can safely conclude that Borno is in safe hands.

The proposed resettlement communities will have schools, clinics, police posts, marketplaces, stalls, boreholes, secure farmlands and vocational training centres where necessary.

…Tinubu, UK envoy’s endorsement

Celebrating the governor for the feat during his 54th birthday, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, said Zulum’s vision and selfless diligence has continued to inspire.

“Borno State Governor has redefined leadership in Nigeria by fully committing to the welfare and security of his constituents above all considerations, driving a message of renewed hope in both the young and the old, even as he rebuilds institutions and infrastructure that were torn apart by many years of insurgency,” Tinubu said.

Also, Chairman of the delegation of the Northeast Ambassadors Group and the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, also complimented Tinubu’s words.

He said: “I think I can say on behalf of the whole team that we are delighted and we are also united in recognising that you have made the commitment and showed dynamism in your leadership that we really appreciate. Also by showing the way you want to make a difference for your people and putting in place both the short-term plans and the 25 years Borno State development plan and vision.”

…What observers say

For a fact, watchers of events in the state believe the resplendence of the pre-Boko Haram era, is fast returning and this is being complimented by a string of  modern infrastructure that further beautify the city.

With what is going on in the Northeast state, observers are of the view that governors, via peer review, have a lot to benefit from themselves and ultimately deliver on good governance.