President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday visited Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, to tour the ruins of the Monday Market, which was recently destroyed by fire. The President commiserated with the government and people of Borno State over the unfortunate incident and also visited the palace of the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El-Kanemi, to register his condolences to indigenes of the State who lost property and means of livelihood in the disaster.
The President, according to a release issued by his spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, visited the market, which was still smouldering five days after the fire, in the company of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, members of the Federal Executive Council, and some eminent citizens of the State.
During his visit, the President was briefed at the scene of the incident by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq. She informed him that the assessment on the level of damage was still ongoing and that the Federal government had provided immediate relief materials to the victims of the fire incident, including 20,000 bags of rice, 20,000 bags of maize, and condiments.
The Minister also pledged that the Ministry, in collaboration with the Borno State Government, would provide building materials to rebuild the market. She stated that “after the assessment, the Ministry will submit a full report to Mr President to seek special intervention.”
Governor Zulum, who was also present, revealed that the market, which was built in the 1970s and had no fewer than 20,000 beneficiaries, was completely destroyed by the fire. Acknowledging the support by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, he said the State government had provided an immediate support of N1 billion but noted that even the N1 billion may not be enough for the traders affected by the fire.
The Chairman of the Market Association, Awaji Bukar, expressed deep appreciation to the President for the visit, while appealing for more support from the Federal Government.
After touring the market, the President visited the palace of the Shehu of Borno, where he inaugurated projects executed by the Prof Zulum-led administration. Speaking at the palace, President Buhari said he was also in the State to inaugurate projects executed by the administration.
“I am delighted to be here with the Shehu and the good people of Borno State, to commiserate with you on the unfortunate Monday Market fire incident. I’m pleased to be back to commission projects and be part of the unstoppable development drive of this great state. I’m equally happy that the state continues to strive for the normalization of its affairs following the enormous successes achieved in tackling the problem of security that had reached worrying heights in the past,” he said.
The Shehu of Borno thanked the President for overseeing the return of peace and normalcy to the State. He also lauded the improved security situation in the State, declaring that “no single local government area in the state is under the control of Boko Haram terrorists.” He said the President had successfully carried out his mission in office and that as far as Borno State was concerned, he had done far more than anyone had expected.
The Shehu expressed appreciation to the President for his sympathies following the devastating fire that consumed the entire Monday Market and went on to state the blessings of the Buhari administration in its eight years of office to the State.
His said: “When you came in, we had more than two million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs mostly women and children roaming the streets in Maiduguri. We had no power for two years; we had no GSM. We had no outgoing roads except that to Kano. Boko Haram had taken over the other roads.
“We had no Airport as the one here was damaged and therefore no commercial flights. 17 of the 27 local government councils were under Boko Haram. Today, no single local government area is under their control.
”You changed everything by transferring the Command-and-Control Center of the anti- terrorism war to this place. We thank you for standing with us in our trying times. Together, we remain with you, in or out of office.”