Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, Minister-designate for Inner City and Zongo Development has said that measures are being instituted to source for additional funds to complement the 50-million dollar seed money for Zongo communities across the country.
He said with the number of Zongos scattered across the country and estimated at about 500 as at 2008, it was informing that the seed money to establish a fund would be inadequate to accommodate the needs of the Zongo development concept.
The nominee said this when he appeared before the Appointment Committee of Parliament yesterday to be vetted for the new ministerial Portfolio under the current government.
He explained that “Zongo” a corrupt word for “Zango” in Hausa language was then used to describe a community of travellers and Islamic missionaries who voluntarily segregate themselves to live at the outskirt of a town to facilitate their trade and worship.
Alhaji Saddique said currently “Zongos” have metormophosised into a heterogenous society of different religious practices and diversified ethnicity unified by the common language of Hausa with many attendant challenges.
He said there was the need to kickstart a sound foundation and total transformation of the Zongos across the country by changing the mindset of the people in the community, the perception of the citizenry, the commitments of government and public service delivery with regards to Zongo communities through the government agencies and departments.
The Minister-designate said such a holistic approach was needed because the Zongo communities has taken on a character of being violent, illiterate, unemployed, crime-prone and poverty endemic areas.
He said the new ministry in its infancy role would want to focus more on re-orientation and concentisation of the Zongo communities to re-define new economic and social parameters in those areas.
Alhaji Saddique indicates that the fund for now would not primarily focus on providing infrastructure development in the communities but would rather create the necessary environment for economic, social and educational transformation.
He said the ministry would work directly under the office of the president as such access to the fund would be through a facility under the budget of the presidency as stipulated by law.
Alhaji Saddique described an inner city dwellings as stressful, and deprived areas with more pronounced poverty in the cities created by rural to urban migration adding that about 200 of them have been identified across the country.
He said economic empowerment programmes with social interventions to improve livelihood in those areas would very much be championed by the ministry.