By Muhammad Umar Jibrilla
On Monday the 26th of September, 2016 I was at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola to declare a conference on Post-Conflict Peace Building and Reconstruction in the Lake Chad Basin open. The keynote Speaker was former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar. The Chief of Army Staff General Buratai was also present at the occasion.
As I sat there listening to General Abdulsalami real out harrowing statistics of lives wasted, property losses and Infrastructure callously destroyed, I dropped a tear or two. But I had to put up a brave face because of my leadership role. But I am human. These statistics may be abstract to some people but they represent real tragedy for those of us directly affected.
The figures were indeed frightening. Over 200,000 people killed, 2.4 Million displaced living as refugees in other countries or IDPs in their country. Over 2000 abducted majority being female, several orphans created, 18,117 houses decapitated, 350 bridges blown, 22,099 schools, 1,205 public buildings and over 1,000 Worship Centres destroyed.
These may just be numbers to some people. But to us they represent real people, friends, relations, associates and people we knew all our lives. It was two years ago that the marouding invaders took over my hometown of Mubi and renamed it “Madinatual-Islam” During their unfortunate occupation of the town, people I had known all my life were killed. People I grew up with disappeared. Businesses I know including our family businesses were destroyed.
As a Senator of the Federal Republic at that time, I saw development interventions brought to my constituency wantonly and callously destroyed. I saw men, women and children relocating from familiar environments to uncertainties. These tragedies are enough to push anyone to nostalgia. I nearly snapped on the high table. I felt all the anger and despair that pervaded the period of our occupation.
The pains were real at that time and in retrospect, they are still real. But we are hopeful. Hopeful that there are now several voices calling for Peace Building and Reconstruction in a region bedeviled by Poverty and Social inequalities. Hopeful that we have a definite programme in place for Social and Physical Reconstruction. Hopeful that we have a President that believes in rebuilding our region. Hopeful that we have a gallant Military that is committed and professional enough to degrade the Insurgent and reclaim back our territory.
Above all we are hopeful because our people have shown sufficient trust in us by voting for us massively to assume the leadership of the State; thus giving us an opportunity to play a leading role in the peace building and reconstruction process.
Are we doing that? Certainly yes. Even at the risk of being a little bit immodest. We make bold to say we have truly taken some bold steps in the areas of Peace Building and Reconstruction. We have made tremendous efforts in physical reconstruction of our destroyed and delabitated infrastructure. We have taken concrete steps to construct roads, rehabilitate destroyed schools, revamp our hospitals and indeed re-engineer productive activities in Agriculture and mining.
In the area of Peace Building and Social Reconstruction, we have committed ourselves to building bridges of peace and unity within our State and among our people. We have designed policies and programmes that takes a wholistic view of Social strife within our communities. It must be noted that we have other flash points in our State occasioned by communal clashes and the after-effects of natural disasters. We have those happenings into consideration as well.
We have built enduring structures for peace and social harmony within our communities. Most people do not understand the anonymity of the task of ensuring social harmony in our State. Adamawa State has on record a total of 87 ethnic groups, each distinct in language and cultures.
The two major religions of Islam and Christianity are almost balanced. In the Nigerian parlance, we will be said to have all the ingredients of social strife. But we have mercifully limited such occurrences and the magic is simple. We are building a system anchored on fairness and justice believing that peace is not just the absence of strife, but the presence of social justice. For us, “unity in diversity” is not just a slogan but an essential ingredient of governance.
As we get out of the horrors of Boko Haram insurgency and it’s social effects on our communities, we must begin to appreciate the enornimity of the challenges of peace building, social and physical reconstruction.
We therefore support and appreciate the renewed focus on peace building and reconstruction in our region. We are indeed hopeful believing that from the ashes of our traumatic experiences a more prosperous society may emerge.
We want to assure the Federal Government, our gallant fighting forces and the International Community that our Government is committed to partner in any efforts aimed at ensuring peaceful coexistence, engendering the economic wellbeing of our people and creating a conducive environment for productive engagement. This is our commitment and it is our resolve.
Senator Muhammad Umar Jibrilla (Bindow) is the Executive Governor of Adamawa state