Ahead of Nigeria’s general elections, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, on Sunday, wooed members of the state chapters of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigerian (RTEAN) as he presented 450 Volkswagen Sharan buses to the executive of both unions for onward distribution to their members across the local government areas of the state.
The buses, according to the All Progressives Congress (APC) governor, were meant to serve as palliatives and relief to members of the union in view of the devastating effects of Boko Haram on economic activities in the state.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony which held at the Government House in Maiduguri, the governor said the beneficiaries are expected to repay 50 percent cost of the buses after generating income even as he disclosed that each of the buses cost N1.1 million but beneficiaries are to repay N550,000 to the Government through their union officials over a monitored period.
According to Shettima, “Since Borno State started facing the challenges of insurgency in 2009, one group that has remained a silent victim is the National Union of Road Transport Workers. Countless number of commercial drivers who are members of the union have lost their lives on account of moving people from one point to another, to make people succeed in doing businesses, visiting families and keeping our society functional.
“We all know that once vehicles, especially commercial vehicles connecting states are out of the road, then a society is brought to a halt. This is because more than 70 percent of citizens all over Nigeria depend on commercial transport for mobility of trade, social and cultural activities. We depend on commercial transport for the food we all eat in houses and virtually all our household items.
“What really surprises me, is the courage of members of the NURTW. Drivers under this association defy all fears and convey people, food items and other essentials of lives into Borno State in the darkest days of Boko Haram Insurgency.
“Some of them even lose their lives in the process but many others still carried on. A lot of them take the bull by its horn. This is a group that keeps Borno connected to the rest of Nigeria and helps in conveying the needs of our people into Borno State so we can all exist as a society.”
Responding to the governor’s gesture, National President of the NURTW, who was represented by the State chairman, Alhaji Bello Maduganari, said by giving out 450 buses, Shettima has assisted 4,500 families because, according to him, each of the buses would have direct impact on 10 families based on known projections worked out by the union.