By Bukar Bolori
The Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Abdulkarim Lawan has lamented that his local government is still under Boko Haram occupation, while appealing to the Federal Government and the military authorities to ensure the recapture of Guzamala and Kukawa local government areas of Borno State from the terrorist group.
He said, “the entire Guzamala Local Government area where I hail from is still under the control of Boko Haram sect as there is no presence of troops or civilians as I speak, while in Kukawa which is the Council Headquarter, we only have presence of civilian population with no military presence.”
“There is no single existence of civil authority in Guzamala, not to even talk of military presence in the Council Headquarter and its surrounding communities, our people including our district heads, stakeholders who are here with us are still taking refuge in camps and host communities located in Nganzai, Monguno and other neighbouring local government areas including Maiduguri metropolis for the last six years.”
The Speaker, who spoke during the presentation of a N5 million worth’s Phase IV scholarship to 446 indigent students of Guzamala, displaced by insurgents in the last six years, studying at various tertiary institutions, said: “Our people are desperate to go back home, it is unfortunate that this is not the first time I have been agitating for military presence in Guzamala and surrounding communities to enable my displaced people take the advantage of Governor Babagana Zulum’s move in Reconstruction and Resettlement, but to no avail. I insist that Guzamala is still a no -go -area.”
The Speaker, who lamented that parts of the two local government areas are still held by the terrorist group, equally asked the military to ensure the return of civil authority to the affected areas.
He said the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor should fast track the ongoing efforts of Operation Desert Sanity by troops of “Operation Hadin Kai’ to restore civil authority in Guzamala and Kukawa councils.
In order to ameliorate the effect of insurgency on the students, Lawan who is the longest serving Speaker in Nigeria, initiated a scholarship scheme to deserving students coordinated by Hon. Abdulkarim Lawan Scholarship Committee (HALSC) chaired by Comrade Wakil Sheriff.
Addressing the gathering on Friday, the Speaker appreciated the efforts of the military and other security agencies in the fight against Boko Haram and other criminalities in Borno and the North East in general.
Lawan, while urging the benefitting students to take their studies serious, pledged that the gesture is a continuous one, so as to enable most of the displaced students meet their immediate school needs.
He therefore commend the chairman of the scholarship committee, Comrade Wakil Sheriff and his team for doing a thorough job during the selection process, which he noted, was devoid of political or ethnic consideration.
The chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Bukar Zanna applauded the Lawmaker for giving hope to the hopeless, and solicited support and prayers for the Speaker to succeed in his political career, and for God to restore peace not only in Borno, but the country as a whole.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Scholarship Committee Chairman, Comrade Sheriff said, the Speaker has initiated a good number of physical projects that has direct bearing on the lives of the majority of the people, but could not actualize due to the unfortunate activities of Boko Haram that destroyed all communities, including means of livelihood in the council.
However, he intimated the guests that in the quest to support human capital development, and in accordance with the Borno State Government 25 – Year Development Plan of Governor Zulum, Rt. Hon Lawan has been giving stipend to indigenous students studying in various tertiary institutions within and outside the state and beyond as his constituency projects.
“Since our inauguration that gave us the mandate to collect database of students, scholarship has been awarded to over 350 students during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd phases. I am glad that today, we are witnessing the phase IV of the scholarship award to 446 students, consisting of 432 undergraduates and 14 post graduates.
“Among the beneficiaries of today’s scholarship award, are 213 students from University of Maiduguri, 29 students from Borno State University and 7 students from other universities across the country.
“We also have 120 students from colleges of Education, Agriculture and Health, Mohammed Goni College of Law and Islamic Studies (MOGOLIS) and 77 students from Ramat Polytechnic Maiduguri who are beneficiaries of this gesture today”. Sheriff said.
Apart from the scholarship, Sheriff informed that the Speaker under his Foundation has facilitated admission of indigenes to many tertiary institutions and ensures that tuition and other fees are paid for new students.
The Special Guest of Honour, Alhaji Mohammed Mustafa Kukawa, who is the Senior Special Assistant, SSA to Governor Zulum, said the gesture is apt, as it will alleviate the immediate economic hardship faced by students while in school.
In a goodwill message, numerous stakeholders including Umar Sheriff, a Lecturer from College of Agriculture in Maiduguri who benefited from the first batch of the scholarship scheme thanked the Speaker for his humanitarian assistance, and urged the students to use this golden opportunity in order to better their future.
Highlights of the occasion was the presentation of Awards to the Speaker as the ‘Best Humanitarian Lawmaker’ by various Student’s associations.