By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
As controversy trails the call by President Muhammadu Buhari to the World Bank in 2015 to help rebuild the Northeast ravaged by insurgents, Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, yesterday, cleared the air on what Buhari actually said and those present.
Speaking in Maiduguri late Friday night, Shettima said the President merely pleaded with the World Bank to assist Nigeria in rebuilding the six states of the North destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents and and help the victims to be reintegrated into normal life and never made any selfish or sectional request to the bank to focus its development on the North to the detriment of other parts of the country.
The governor said five governors, including three from the South South, Southeast and Southwest and the late Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor Adefuye were present when President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting with President of the World Bank in Washington back in July, 2015, during which the President made a special appeal for the World Bank to support in the rebuilding of the northeast geo-political zone which has suffered massive destructions as a result of Boko Haram insurgency, Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima who was also at the meeting said on Friday night with a call on Nigerians to emphasize issues that will unite and strengthen the country rather cause division and hatred.
Shettima spoke with reference to responses following media reports claiming the World Bank President said President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the Bank to focus developmental attention on ‘northern Nigeria’, a situation that many interpreted as favoritism.
Clarifying the air while speaking some journalists in Maiduguri on Friday night, Governor Shettima said himself, Governors Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State from the southeast, Adams Oshiomhole from the south-south, Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi from the Southwest and Tanko Almakura from the north-central were all in attendance when President Buhari met with the World Bank during which he made an open request for the world to focus in helping the Federal Government to rebuild the northeast.
He noted that it was in furtherance of the request that in 2016, the World Bank in collaboration with the European Union and office of the Vice President, organized a Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on the six states affected by the Boko Haram attacks in the northeast following which it was verifiably discovered that the Boko Haram had destroyed public and private infrastructure worth $9 billion dollars in the northeast out of which Borno alone accounted for $6 billion.
Governor Shettima said while it was not his duty to speak for the President, he found it necessary to clear the air ‘because it will unfair for him to keep silent’ while President Buhari is wrongly misunderstood in his attempt to help in rebuilding Borno and other parts of the Northeast.
The governor said, “The President and the Federal Government have very competent spokespersons, I don’t speak for the President or the Federal Government but the controversy affects my State because the discussions with the World Bank focused on rebuilding the northeast and everyone knows that when the issue of rebuilding the northeast is the subject, Borno naturally comes into perspective because of the N 9 billion worth of destructions inflicted by Boko Haram on the northeast.
“Borno alone suffered destructions worth N6 billion and this figure was the product of President Muhammadu Buhari’s request from the world Bank. It was the World Bank that championed the RPBA (Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on the six states of the northeast with the participation of the European Union, and office of the Vice President.
“The World Bank became involved after President Buhari made a request for the Bank to support the rebuilding of the northeast. The meeting between President Buhari and the World Bank in Washington DC which took place in July, 2015, few weeks after the President’s swearing-in, was attended by their Excellencies, then Governor Adams Oshiomhole from the south-South, Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo from the southeast, Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi from the Southwest, Tanko Al-Makura from the north Central, myself from the northeast, the Late Prof.Adefuye and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo.
“The request was made by the President in the open and everyone thought it was the right thing. States in the northeast, like Borno have been working with the World Bank, putting all the collaborative machinery in place. We have been having series of follow ups and the media has been covering all the steps including my visit to the World Bank in Abuja some months ago. The whole thing is in the open and we believe the objectives of the President will be actualised as go forward,” Shettima said.
It will he recalled that some commentators have criticized Buhari for making what they described as a sectional case for the North at the expense of the whole country until the governor put the matter in perspective.