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Zulum: Why I chose ex-Boko Haram stronghold as retreat venue

Zulum: Why I chose ex-Boko Haram stronghold as retreat venue
October 20
18:47 2019

Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno state, is currently chairing a retreat for commissioners, special advisers and other top government officials in Damask, an area reclaimed from the Boko Haram insurgents.

Damasak located near Lake Chad that is less than 10 kilometres away from Diffa in Niger Republic.

It was captured by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014 but recovered in 2016.

Declaring the retreat open on Saturday, Zulum said his choice of Damask is meant to bring the government officials in touch with the realities on the ground.

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Borno cabinet members

“By tradition, retreats are held in the most serene and oftentimes, luxurious environments‎. However, holding retreats under serene atmosphere is reserved for those who live and operate under normal circumstances,” he said.

“Fellow members of the state executive council, I will like to remind us very strongly that our circumstances in Borno State are not normal. If we decide to hold our retreat in Maiduguri, Abuja or perhaps at Obudu Cattle ranch in Cross Rivers state, we may not totally true to ourselves and sensitive to the plight of our people.

“The wisdom of convening this retreat in Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area in the most troubled northern part of Borno State, is to bring all of us, face to face with the realities of our challenges in Borno. Driving from Maiduguri to this place, we have passed major towns like Gubio and Kareto which have become near ghosts of what they used to be. We have seen villages that are without human occupation. We have seen on the road, soldiers at different points, clearly indicating that all is not normal with Borno.

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The ongoing retreat

“Damasak, where we are today, used to be one of Borno’s agro-economic centres. Damasak used to be a large scale producer and exporter of farm produce like tomatoes, pepper and other vegetables. Thousands of wealthy farmers and transporters, other fellow citizens have been killed, displaced to Niger Republic and forced to become beggars. We are here to remind ourselves that the oath of offices we differently took in May, June, August and September, 2019 is not for luxury.

“Borno has serious challenges and we have individually sworn with the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible to do whatever we can in trying to address the challenges facing Borno state.

“We are here to feel their stay and to remind us of their needs for continued safety; their needs for shelter; their needs for medical care; their needs for water; their needs for schools; their needs for means of livelihoods.”

The governor charged members of his cabinet to come up with ideas that could affect the state positively.

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Earlier, ‎Usman Jidda Shuwa, secretary to the state government (SSG), said the retreat is meant for the government officials to come up with ideas that would enable the governor deliver good governance to the people.

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