ADDRESS OF WELCOME BY THE SECRETARY TO THE BORNO STATE GOVERNMENT, ALHAJI USMAN JIDDA SHUWA, fwc, AT THE TOWN HALL MEETING ON VANDALISM OF POWER AND COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE, HELD ON THURSDAY, 23RD SEPTEMBER 2021,AT THE MULTIPURPOSE HALL OF THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE, MAIDUGURI.
I am particularly pleased and profoundly honoured to warmly welcome you to this Town Hall Meeting, organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, to put heads together on the worrisome scourge of vandalism of power and communication infrastructure, across the country and come up with viable and pragmatic ideas and solutions. Power and communication infrastructure, is undoubtedly a key factor in the development process, without which all efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable growth and development of the nation will, regrettably, be in vain.
2. The choice and timing of this topic could not have come at a more appropriate time, particularly for us here in Borno State. This is because of the deliberate and malicious destruction of the high tension electric wires supplying power to Maiduguri, the state capital and other parts of the state, by Boko Haram terrorists, which inevitably plunged the entire state into total darkness, for the past nine months.
3. Sometimes in January this year, Boko Haram insurgents, as part of their despicable desire to inflict more untold hardship on our people, callously planted and detonated explosive devices along the high tension poles in the outskirts of the state capital, thereby effectively ending electricity supply to the state. This extremely cruel and condemnable
action by the insurgents, has an excruciating and crippling effect on the overall socio-economic activities of our people and posed a serious impediment to the developmental activities of the state government. It furthermore created considerable disquiet and formidable resentment among the people, as those of them who literally depend on the continues supply of electricity for their livelihood, such as, welders, barbers, proprietors of Business Centres and Hair Saloon operators, among others, feel existentially threatened by the needless destruction of the power infrastructure. One of the concomitant effects of the destruction is that, thousands of our people have now become unemployed or underemployed, at best.
4. His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor Baba Gana Umara Zulum, in his usual alacrity and unquestionable commitment to the welfare of the people, took deliberate steps to reverse this unhealthy development by not only, ensuring the immediate repair of the damaged section of the high tension wires, but also dousing the palpable fear and disquiet, being entertained by the people, as a result of the destruction. Immediately after the destruction, he mobilized all the necessary requirements, including the needed materials and financial resources, and effectively deployed them to the site.
His Excellency also ensured that a 24-hour security was provided to those undertaking the repair work and their entitlements fully paid.
After about three months of hard work and extraordinary commitment and spending Three Hundred and Fifty million Naira in the process, the damaged parts were repaired and electricity restored to the State. However, less than 24 hours later, the insurgents, in their desperate move to carry on with their criminal enterprise, again blew off, the repaired portion and other parts of the high tension wires, thereby again subjecting our people to another round of agonising despondency.
5. Being a federal matter, His Excellency, right from the outset, travelled to Abuja to brief Mr President and other relevant federal authorities, particularly the Minister for Power, on the unpleasant situation and the urgent need to effect the necessary repairs, within the shortest possible time. Although he travelled to Abuja on more than three occasions, specifically on the issue, the then Minister of Power did not find it expedient to come and assess the extent and nature of the destruction nor send officials on his behalf. We find such lukewarm attitude profoundly reprehensible and highly unbecoming; which, perhaps, was part of the primary cause for the worrisome delay in undertaking the repairs and ultimately the restoration of electricity supply to the state.
5. Deeply worried by this development, His Excellency found it imperative to make another passionate appeal to Mr President to do all within his powers to restore electricity supply to the state. In response, the President, during his one-day official visit to the State, in July, this year, directed the NNPC to provide alternative source of power by immediately commencing the construction of a diesel-powered thermal power plant in the state capital, pending the full repair of the high tension poles. Sadly enough, while we were eagerly looking forward to the normalisation of the power supply to the state, four more high tension wires, were just last week, destroyed, thereby escalating the already dire situation. Such is the challenge we are currently facing in the state, in terms of electricity supply.
7. I sincerely hope that this meeting will come up with concrete ideas and implementable strategies on how best to deal, not only, with the dilemma of power supply in Borno State, but also all the challenges caused by the needless destruction of the nation’s power and communication infrastructure; and their attendant consequences.
8. On behalf of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor Baba Gana Umara Zulum, the government and people of Borno State, l would like to, once again, welcome you to this auspicious Towm Hall meeting and wish you happy and fruitful deliberations.
9. Thank you and God bless.