By Ese Awhotu
Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno was yesterday in Diffa, Niger Republic where he met about 120,000 refugees, who mostly hailed from local governments in the northern part of Borno state.
The refugees made up of men, women and children fled from hundreds of communities attacked by Boko Haram insurgents since 2014. Majority trekked distances to enter the neighboring country in search of safety.
The Governor’s visit to Niger was to contribute in arranging modalities towards the safe and dignified repatriation of the refugees to resettlement communities in Borno.
About three weeks ago, Zulum had hosted a high level meeting in Abuja, which had in attendance, were officials from Nigeria’s federal ministries of foreign affairs, humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development; the national commission for refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons and the national emergency management agency to discuss repatriation of Borno citizens from Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
With that meeting in mind, Governor Zulum travelled to Bosso, Garin Wanzam and Tumur, all in Diffa province, to meet the refugees. Host Governor of Diffa, Isa Lameen led Zulum during the visits. Speaker, Borno state assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan who is from northern part of Borno state, was also part of the trip.
Governor Zulum traveled to Diffa from Malam-Fatori, headquarters of Abadam local government in Northern Borno, which had been a stronghold of Boko Haram insurgents, until it was recently regained by the military. The visit to Malam-fatori, is the first time in more than five years by a civilian, happened the same Saturday the Governor entered Diffa province in Niger Republic.
Zulum, while addressing top officials, expressed his gratitude to government of Diffa province, the federal government of Niger and and the host communities in the country for being hospitable to Borno citizens.
The Borno Governor was particularly thankful to his host, Mr Lameen of Diffa province, for his empathy and compassion towards Nigerian refugees from Borno