Full Text of Acting President Osinbajo’s Speech at flag-off of the Federal Government’s Food Distribution Programme — 08 June 2017
I am extremely pleased to be with you all here in Maiduguri today to commence a new chapter of our journey back to peace and prosperity in this very important region.
This journey has been long and hard, many who are here, especially those in this camp, have lost family members, property and livelihoods, but you did not lose faith, you continued to believe in peace, you remained focused, and most importantly you did not give up.
To this end, we must all salute the people of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe states who have borne such difficulties and seen much hardship. Those people who opened their doors to friends and strangers alike, those who provided shelter and protection to displaced people, without prejudice to tribe or religion; your behavior and your journey inspires us.
On behalf of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari and our entire government, I salute your steadfastness, your sacrifices and fortitude in the most challenging circumstances.
In the last two years, the courage of our Military men and women is evident for the whole world to see, their bravery and their can-do attitude has broken the back of this vicious insurgency, and by the grace of God in the near future we shall eliminate this menace once and for all.
As we restore and maintain security in the region, we must not lose sight of the need to provide social service, food, education, healthcare, shelter as well as resettlement and livelihood support.
Today, the Federal Government flags off what will be a quarterly grain distribution programme for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and by this, we are saying to our brothers and sisters in the Northeast that our country does not take their burdens lightly and we are not blind to their difficulties.
I am particularly pleased to say that the grains that we’ll be distributing, which comprise of Sorghum, Maize, Soya Beans, and Rice, are produced locally; they are produced here in Nigeria by our own farmers.
This has always been the vision of Mr. President for our country, to grow what we eat, and to eat what we grow and to use what we make. These grains have travelled from various locations across the country, from as far afield as Ibadan, and as close as Gombe; escorted and protected by the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Military and in some cases will be airlifted by the Nigeria Air Force.
The food will be distributed by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in partnership with State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and our friends from the international humanitarian agencies.
We will depart from the undignified practice of forcing people to queue up for food but rather we will be distributing using a door-to-door method. We are also incorporating a voucher system which will not only make the process of relief distribution transparent, it will improve our own data collection and our national capacity to plan for what will now be a quarterly exercise.
While we are providing food assistance today, we will work with the state government to provide other forms of assistance, including health services, education, resettlement and livelihood support.
We know that the task ahead is great, but we are inspired by your courage and we will look around this camp and see the men and women and children who have to live away from their homes, who have to live away from their relations and are separated.
We can only say that they demonstrate the true spirit of our country, the true Nigerian spirit, a resilient spirit, a hardworking, deliberate and resourceful people, who are determined to conquer all sorts of challenges and who eventually will build this country up, to be the greatest country, not just in Africa but everywhere in the world.
We will get all the work that we need to do, done. In the coming weeks, we will announce a comprehensive livelihood and resettlement support program that will complement the military efforts in this region.
We are committed to moving our people forward, to helping them return to communities that have been made safe, and to return to their farms, so that they can participate in the next farming seasons.
Progress for us will be to see reduced numbers of people receiving direct assistance, and being in the position to earn a living, be self-sufficient and even enjoy prosperity; that is our goal. I must express our sincere appreciation to our international partners who have supported our agencies and indeed our people thus far.
While we hope to continue to count on their support in more technical areas, we very much look forward to taking a leading role in providing for our people, especially in these difficult circumstances.
I must also thank the state governments in the Northeast region for their untiring commitment to the upliftment of our people; in particular I commend the excellent and exemplary leadership of the Governor of the State, Gov. Kashim Shettima who has demonstrated that real leadership must show respect, love and compassion for the people.
I must also commend the service chiefs and the men and women of our Armed Forces who have worked tirelessly on this massive food distribution assignment. I must not forget the special presidential task force comprising the Armed Forces and ministers, the chief of staff and several volunteers, and of course our donors who are leading this effort.
I also thank our neigbours in Cameroon, Chad, Niger for their fraternal support in our joint fight against terrorism. While great progress has been made, there is still a great deal more to do. The reward for hard work as they say is more hard work and we have shown that as a people, we are up to the task.
I want to just commend all of us who are here, all of those who stand up every day to try and help their neighbours to survive and to do well in these very difficult circumstances.
God bless you for the work you are doing. God Bless Nigeria!