Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum has said no matter how the current situation in the state might seem, that evidence showed President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had made significant progress when compared with the past administration.
Zulum stated this on Wednesday while awarding scholarships for orphans of members of civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), who lost their lives fighting Boko Haram terrorists.
Many civilian JTF members, most of them hunters and vigilantes, like soldiers have lost their lives to the insurgency fight in the North-East.
The orphans to benefit from the process are those whose fathers were killed from 2013 till date, according to the governor.
Zulum also approved a welfare package of N50,000 each for widows of civilian JTF members and the distribution of N180 million and 27,000 bags and cartons of food variety to 9,000 volunteers.
The governor spoke in Maiduguri, the state capital, when he addressed a gathering of about 9,000 volunteers who have been fighting alongside the Nigerian armed forces to contain Boko Haram insurgency in Borno.
The 9,000 volunteers, who gathered at the campus of Borno State University, were assured that each of them would receive N20,000 cash, a 50-kg bag of rice, a carton of spaghetti and a gallon of cooking oil aside of their regular monthly allowances.
“Whe owe families of CJTF, hunters killed in battles. For me, the greatest miracle that has emanated from Borno State within the last ten years, is the emergence of the Civilian JTF back in 2013, and the coming of more volunteers from hunters and vigilantes, all of whom have devoted their lives to fearlessly and patriotically fight side by side with soldiers and other armed forces, in the battle for Borno’s liberation from Boko Haram.
“Of all the components of persons who make up the Borno society today, for me, there is no group that is as important and as critical to us as the brave men and women gathered before us today, who have given up their basic and entitled needs for safety and comfort so that millions of fellow citizens can be safe and comfortable.
“Our indomitable men and women of the civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes, the people of Borno State are mightily and gratefully proud of each of you. Nothing can compensate for the sacrifices you are making, only Allah can adequately compensate each of you. This is particularly so for many of our fellow compatriots who have died in the battle fields.
“In the last seven years, we have recorded instances in which volunteers in the civilian JTF have intercepted suicide attackers and in the process lost their lives. We have recorded more instances of many killed in major battles after they also succeeded in our shared victories over Boko Haram at different encounters. I will not mention names, but there are records of warriors in the civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes from southern, to northern and central Borno, who fought so hard and gave their lives fighting for Borno.
“These volunteers fought and died with no death benefits, no pension, and no gratuities. As we should expect, orphaned children and widows left behind by these fallen Civilian JTF and hunters have been struggling whether to feed, to access medical services, or to access basic and secondary education.
“As Governor of Borno State, I assure you, that insha’Allah, all of those who died in the civilian JTF, groups of hunters and vigilantes did not die in vain. Bi’iznillah they have all died for the causes of saving humanity and we pray that Allah grants them his eternal mercy and admit them into aljanna firdaus.
“While we continue to pray for them, as a people, we all have obligations to support the orphans and widows left behind by these fallen heroes of Borno.
“It is my honour to hereby announce that Borno State Government will award education scholarship to the most vulnerable orphans of Civilian JTF who have been killed at battle fronts.
“This scholarship will be awarded in phases, starting with the youngest and most vulnerable families of the earliest fallen volunteers, down to the most recently killed,” Zulum said.
The governor said he was going to constitute a multi-stakeholder committee which would thoroughly evaluate vulnerabilities and come up with a list of children to benefit in the first phase, recommend schools, and develop a feasible and sustainable structure of the scholarship.
“The committee will be tasked with securing admissions, uniforms, fees and monitoring the academic progress of the children.
“The parents of these children died fighting for all of us, the people of Borno State, the very least we can do is work towards the future of their children.
READ MORE: Take war to Boko Haram hideouts, Zulum charges military
“For widows left behind, we shall today release some social intervention packages to them, especially food,” he added.
The governor called on the people of the state to continue to appreciate the fact that “no matter how worried our current situation is confronting us, the evidence before us is that the Buhari administration has made significant progress when compared with our past experiences before 2015.”
He added, “As an academic, I work with evidence. We all know what Borno was before Buhari, and what it is under Buhari.”
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