The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Sunday flagged off the building of 500 houses to replace homes destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents in Gajiram, headquarters of Nganzai Local Government Area.
Nganzai, an agrarian local government, about 90km from Maiduguri, the state capital, was among the communities that were badly hit by the Boko Haram onslaught.
Gajiram, ancestral home of former military head of state, Sani Abacha, was created in 1991.
Despite its slow pace of socio-infrastructural development, the local government is known for its large population spread across hundreds of villages and hamlets.
Thousands of poor residents, mostly women and children, were forced to flee their communities to Maiduguri at the height of the Boko Haram hostilities.
Following series of attacks by the insurgents, the larger part of the local government was left in rubble with various electricity and communication installations completely vandalised.
Despite the acclaimed return of peace to some parts of the state, the people of Nganzai local government can only return to Gajiram, the council headquarters, which is for now the safest zone for them.
For many months, over 3000 households made up of at least units of six family members camped in tent houses provided by the UN agencies and dilapidated houses in the local government headquarters.
Governor Shettima, while laying the foundation blocks for the houses at Gajiram insisted that the project, a first of its kind, must be completed by the end of the year.
The governor also took 16 trucks of foods, beddings, assorted bales of used clothes which were distributed to the displaced persons through the coordination of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
Addressing the people in their local language,, Mr Shettima assured them of support.
He said the apartments as well as weddings and blankets provided was meant to help them cushion the harsh effect of the coming harmattan cold.
The senator representing Borno north district, Abubakar Kyari, thanked the governor for his support.
“Building 500 units of houses is unprecedented as it has never been done in any part of the state outside Maiduguri,” Mr Kyari said.
Earlier, the executive chairperson of SEMA, Yabawa Kolo, said of the 16 trucks of relief items brought to the town, “more than half contained different kinds of food items and condiments meant for direct distribution to the IDPs.
One of the residents and a prospective beneficiary, Modu Mustapha, said he was happy about the development.
“I am a 32-year-old father of four children, but today my family and I are homeless because my house has been burnt down.
“We live out there in the camp, and life has been very difficult for us. Aside the accommodation need, we also lack water here,” he said.