The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on Wednesday, implored communities in the state to accept the repentant insurgents.
The governor said this in Maiduguri during the presentation of the state’s N340.6 billion 2024 Appropriation Bill to the state House of Assembly.
Zulum disclosed that the recent Niger Republic coup has stalled the repatriation of the over 120,000 Nigerian refugees back home from the neighbouring country.
Since the beginning of the implementation of the Federal Government’s ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ and the Borno State Government’s programme of integrating the ex-combatants into their home communities, fears have raged over possible retaliation by those whose family members they killed or maimed during the insurgency.
However, the governor called that instead of retribution, the communities should live in harmony and support the surrendered insurgents to resettle and reintegrate well at home.
“I want to call on the people of Borno State to support the repentant Boko Haram insurgents,” he said, revealing that over 160,000 insurgents and their families have so far repented.
“We understand your fears, but imagine that these people are left in the bush; they would have been wreaking more havoc than imagined,” Zulum maintained, adding that “managing them in repentance is, therefore, better.”
Zulum disclosed that he had been able to secure €10 million and €500,000 grants from Switzerland and Germany, among other grants and donations, to facilitate the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons and the reintegration of the repentant insurgents in their ancestral communities.
He stressed his commitment to pursuing additional grants towards the program.
“I will continue to pursue more grants for the programme,” he said.
Speaking on the repatriation of the Nigerian refugees, the governor had earlier listed some of the projects his administration planned to execute in the Northern Borno Local Government Areas without mentioning Guzamala LGA, the home LGA of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abdulkatim Lawan.
Finance and Economic Development take the lion’s share of N53.8 billion of the 2024 Budget of Consolidation and Progress, followed by Health, at N51.1 billion; and Education, at N39.4 billion.
Zulum pleaded for forgiveness from the citizens of the state he might have offended while discharging his governorship duties and responsibilities in 2023, promising, “I will never lose focus in the discharge of my duties and responsibilities back to prosperity.”