-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –From Mike SOGBOLO:
FAMILIES of 61 district heads killed by Boko Haram since the outbreak of insurgency in the Northeast in 2009 have received humanitarian intervention from both Victims Support Fund (VSF) and Borno State Government.
The VSF at an occasion, which has the Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum and the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Garbai El-Kanemi in attendance, presented economic empowerment packages to some of the 61 families.
The VSF, a public and private funded humanitarian body set up by the Presidency during the Jonathan administration, had after meetings with all the families to identify their livelihood needs, made available, variety of economic, social and educational empowerment items estimated at N61m, from which, each family got materials worth a million Naira.
Speaking at the occasion, Borno State Governor ordered the release of N12.2m as an addition to a need-based intervention of the Victims Support Fund (VSF), to families of 61 district heads killed by Boko Haram.
Speaking as special guest of honour for the intervention ceremony, held on Thursday at the Shehu of Borno’s palace in Maiduguri, Governor Zulum directed the release of N200,000 to each of the 61 families, making up N12.2m the State Government’s contribution.
He said the support was in view of the fact that most of the district heads were killed by insurgents because of their role in intelligence gathering through the mobilization of community members to provide information to security agencies.
The Governor thanked the slain district heads for their sacrifices to the people of Borno.
Earlier in her address, Executive Director of VSF, Prof. Nana Tanko explained that insurgents were in the habit of targeting traditional rulers such as the 61 district heads, in order to break resilience of communities given the fact most residents run to palaces for help in moments of crisis.
She noted that traditional rulers killed by insurgents had served their country and hence their families needed to be supported through an intervention covering education of their children, as well as equipping them with economic tools such as machines and agricultural items that will enable them sustain themselves, explaining that all interventions were based on the needs tabled by each of the 61 benefiting families.
The Executive Director noted that the intervention was on the request of the Shehu of Borno.
Nana also said VSF has been of assistance to victims of different crisis across the State in line with its mandate.
The Shehu of Borno expressed gratitude to the State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum and the Victim Support Fund (VSF) for coming to the aid of families of the slain traditional rulers.
The Shehu also listed all the district heads killed and areas of their jurisdiction.
In his welcome address, commissioner for Local Governments and Emirate Affairs, Sugun Mai-Mele spoke elaborately on the critical roles played by traditional rulers on many developmental issues, particularly security at the community levels.
Highlight of the event was Governor Zulum’s ceremonial presentation of economic empowerment packages provided by the VSF, to some of the 61 families.