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Buhari, North-East and the Uncommon Transformation

On the 28th of July, 2020, Nigerian governors elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his achievements in securing the lives and properties of Nigerians. This by no means is a significant development given its emphasis by the Constitution and how past administrations have failed in that aspect.

The APC governors that gave the commendation included those of Borno, Gombe, and Yobe States which were the most affected by the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorism in Northeast Nigeria between 2012 and 2015. The only state which has suffered almost equal devastation but was missing at the meeting is Adamawa.

The APC governors at the virtual meeting involving the President and members of the interim National Working Committee of their party assessed the prevailing situation in the Northeast and resolved that it would be uncharitable if they fail to commend the president for what he has done in defending the country’s territorial integrity; restoring law and order.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the Governor of Kebbi State and Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Senator Atiku Bagudu, thanked President Buhari for his initiatives which have brought peace, succour and relief to the people of the Northeast.

Those who are not aware of the extent of devastation in the region are bound to pass the commendation as a non-event but the governors knew what they were pointing their fingers at.

While those sceptical of the achievements of the current administration are bound to underestimate the extent of the intervention in the Northeast, the facts, however, speak of an uncommon transformation.

At the height of the Boko Haram devastation of the Northeast, many schools were forced to shut down as they were being attacked and burnt. The number of out-of-school children rose to about eight million representing 60 per cent of the figure in Nigeria.

People were compelled to live in perpetual fear with many abandoning their homes to go and squat in other parts of the country. Boko Haram destroyed everything that represents development in the region.

The group had since 2013 serially obliterated telecommunication equipment in a number of LGs in the Northeast as part of their techniques to prevent communities from alerting one another and reaching out to security agencies.

One of the telecoms operators which quantified the damage on its facilities said 57 of its sites have been destroyed by the insurgents and require urgent attention.

Life became a living hell for the people, cut off from other parts of the country who were subjected to living under the most dehumanizing conditions.

Boko Haram also frustrated movements by destroying roads and blowing off bridges. Where they couldn’t erode, they mount roadblocks to kill unsuspecting travellers.

In the past, many roads in the Northeast were avoided as they had become death traps where the insurgents could appear and slaughter people at will.

Not just the ordinary people but even political leaders such as governors and senators could not travel to their hometowns by road. Worse still, Nigeria lost territories as 20 local government councils came under the terrorists’ control, administered as states under their caliphate. People became refugees in their own country as they fled from violent attacks.

The loss in economic terms was even more enormous. But with the coming of the current administration, such attacks have been halted and people are breathing fresh air. Fear has been eliminated as major towns in the Northeast like Biu, Gombe, Ashaka, Mubi, Yola, Potiskum, Gashua, Geidam and Damaturu, have been peaceful and cannot recall the last time it went through such terrible experiences. All the local councils in the state hitherto taken by the insurgents have been recaptured and people now live their normal lives.

In all these, President Buhari has proven that he is concerned about the problems in the Northeast and that he is for the masses of this country. Beyond the military conquest, his administration has initiated interventions for the rebuilding of the infrastructural facilities in the region.

The result is that schools have been rebuilt, roads reconstructed and reopened, while hospitals have been equipped and communication gadgets reinstalled. The uncommon transformation going on in the Northeast is such that taps are now running in major towns and electricity restored.

Amuta is a development analyst and wrote from Lagos.

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