•Hurrah! The Nigerian North East is getting progressively more secure
The Yoruba dub the Eid-el-Kabir, with its feast of slaughtered ram, “Ileya” (Time to go home). It is the big feast, where Muslim faithful leave their places of abode and work to go feasting and partying in their home towns.
That much was replicated, in much of the North East, the vortex of Boko Haram savagery, this last Eid-el-Kabir.
But unlike the age-old South West folk that tagged this voluntary economic cycle of travelling out to work and returning home to mark Sallah, these North East folk had an enforced trauma — refugees from Boko Haram cruelty.
For no less than four years, refugees fled Konduga, Gwoza, Mafa, Ngala and other communities, never to return, because of Boko Haram terror. They either, at the zenith of the terror, were killed, maimed or captured by Boko Haram cells; or after, were involuntary residents of numerous internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, with their own share of human sufferings, no thanks to inadequate facilities and provisions for these displaced citizens.
But all that is changing — gradually. For starters, indigenes and residents that fled the quad of Konduga, Gwoza, Mafa and Ngala were resettled in their former homesteads, less than two weeks ago.
In Konduga alone, a reported 3, 500 returned. Though the number of returnees to the other three communities was unavailable, the returnees were so excited they paraded the streets, drumming and dancing!
That, from news reports, was the spirit that pervaded the Sallah celebrations in Konduga, with Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, seizing the occasion to pray at the Konduga eid grounds, with two senators, Abubakar Kyari (Borno North) and Baba Kaka Garbai (Borno Central), under the Imam Idiani of Konduga, Alhaji Goni Hassan.
Governor Shettima deserves praise for worshipping with the Konduga Muslims. The empathy with the local folks would go a long way to boost confidence. If the governor can worship with our people at home, those still having doubts about returning could be telling themselves, then the place must be safe!
Besides, the governor’s public endorsement of progressive peace and security, among the folk in a fierce Boko Haram hunting ground not too long ago, is a high boost for the war against terror.
On this score, the Buhari Presidency also deserves praise. It may well be the bounden duty of any state worth its name to secure its territory. But under President Goodluck Jonathan, even that rudimentary chore didn’t sound so routine!
But now that the Buhari administration is winning the war against terror, thanks to the gallant men and women of the armed forces, it is time it put even more efforts to winning the peace.
Winning the peace of terror starts with giving the returnees of Konduga, Gwoza, Mafe and Ngala all the support to settle down and do legitimate business to fend for themselves. The expected help entails physical infrastructure in reconstructing roads and ruined houses, social infrastructure in rebuilding schools and hospitals and ensuring they are operative and functional, in no time. Since the communities are basically agrarian, agricultural extension support services might not be a bad idea.
All these would go a long way in helping these highly traumatised people to start life all over again, fending for themselves, as any respectable adult would.
Still, these resettled communities are only the beginning of what appears a long resettlement programme, which the Federal Government, in concert with the North East state governments, should handle with dispatch and clinical efficiency.
The IDP camps, aside from the initial euphoria of playing host to former Boko Haram captives, have not exactly been a success story. The humanitarian crises there have been gory enough to qualify as peace-time equivalent of the Boko Haram horror.
So, the way to go is fasten the resettlement process so that the displaced can go back to their homes. That means the governments should expedite action on infrastructure renewal, so that these infrastructure, physical and social, can adequately support the incoming population. These should be urgently done.
Still, eternal vigilance, they say, is the price of liberty. That means the security agencies should be keenly alert, securing the resettled communities, as they come on stream.
We cannot just afford the panic of a freak but devastating Boko Haram attack on these over-traumatised people again.