Residents of Bama in Borno State has organised special anniversary to celebrate the return of peace and normalcy to the war torn community.
Bama, hitherto, a commercial nerve centre of Borno was sacked by the Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.
The insurgents’ attack caused massive destruction and displacement of thousands of the inhabitants of the town.
The town was liberated in 2016 by the military and most of the displaced persons resettled in 2020.
The Shehu of Bama, Alhaji Umar Kyari, who spoke at a cultural event on Saturday in Bama, said the anniversary was aimed at building resilience, peace restoration and showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the people.
Kyari said the anniversary was organised in collaboration between the Bama Emirate Council and the Mercy Corps, an International Non Governmental Organisation (iNGO).
“This event was conceived by Bama Emirate Council to enhance greater understanding of our language and culture through which we promote peace and development.
“The ceremony is a signal to all and sundry that peace has return to Bama, and Bama is on the path of restoration of its lost glory.
“This event is significant and provides opportunity for us to celebrate our unique culture, tradition and diversity.
“This cultural day would not have been possible without the support, understanding and cooperation of the Borno State Government and Mercy Corps.
“It is my hope that this day will mark the beginning of a new era of peace, security and prosperity in Bama, and renewed interest in our history, culture and tradition,” he said.
Kyari lauded the contributions of the military, police and other security agencies as well as members of vigilante groups in consolidating the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity being enjoyed in the area.
The traditional ruler said the people would continue to cooperate with the security agencies to maintain peace in the area.
In his keynote address, the Country Director, Mr Ndubisi Anyanwu, who said the celebration is also inline with the World Day for Cultural Diversity designed by UN to deepened understanding of cultural diversity, lauded the Shehu of Bama his exemplary leadership.
“Mercy Corps is here to celebrate cultural diversity with the people of Bama. Since 2012, Mercy Corps has been in Nigeria and particular in the North East to bring life-saving interventions to the most vulnerable people in the hardest to reach places in Nigeria.
“Our sense of fulfillment is being able to record measureable impact from our interventions like we are seeing in Bama,” Anyanwu said.
Anyawu who spent some days in Bama, said driving through the now lively town since his arrival has made it difficult to reconcile the sad and gory sights on the news few years ago.
“The people of Bama are in recovery. The Bama people are on the rise.
“The interesting thing right now is that just like many years ago, Bama still borders Cameroon and Chad. Bama is still a very culturally diverse society. Bama is still one of the large towns in Borno state. Bama can still be one of the most commercially viable economic systems in Nigeria.
“But all these can only happen if we acknowledge that all cultural expressions are valid and diverse cultural groups are empowered to contribute through dialogue and inclusion,” the country director stressed.
Anyanwu also spoke on the organisation’s humanitarian interventions in Bama within the past two years.
“Over the past two years, we have closely collaborated with the state government, the local government, the Bama emirate, our donors – EU and USAID, and other development partners to support the return and recovery of good people of Bama emirate.
“We distributed food to 5000 Households in Bama for 6 months, made available multi-purpose Cash Assistance to 1200 Households, built 325 permanent Shelters equipped with solar for IDPs and returnees within Bama, repaired 300 shelters within Bama, trained over 1200 youth in different livelihood skills, amongst others.
“Currently in Bama, we are rehabilitating and equipping the multi-skills training centre, we are rehabilitating five (5) Boreholes and installing Transformers in 5 communities in Bama. We are drilling of three (3) Deep Solar Powered Boreholes in 3 communities in Bama, and distributing food items to 2000 households within Bama.
“The collaboration between Mercy Corps and the people of Bama will be ongoing. We are grateful to the generous people of Bama who have opened their hearts and homes to us without discrimination,” Anyawu noted.
Also speaking, Alhaji Babakura Abba-Jato, the state Commissioner of Information, lauded the organisation over its intervention in Bama.
Abba-Jato said the gesture was in inline with the resettlement and empowerment programmes of the state government.
Abba-Jato who hailed from Bama recounted the gory experiences of the displaced persons in the hands of the insurgents, noting that several wealthy individuals were pauperised.
The Theme of the celebration is “Convergence to Dialogue, Recover and Develop Communities within Bama LG”.