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Features: Why North East must be rebuilt

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Destruction in North East Nigeria

By Lizzy Okoji

The north-eastern Nigeria: comprising Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba has suffered a lot of devastating impacts arising from attacks from the Boko Haram insurgency.

These attacks have led to loss of thousands of lives, destruction of property and social amenities which has negatively affected the region.

Worst hit are Borno and Adamawa state where the wanton destruction of lives, properties and social amenities including schools and hospitals is unquantifiable.

For instance, Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno observes that the region has lost more than 9.2 billion dollars worth of property due to the insurgency in which the loss in Borno alone accounts for 6.7 billion dollars of the amount.

According to him, this has led to further degradation of the region that has been experiencing underdevelopment before the advent of the insurgency.

These attacks have also led to displacements of Nigerian citizens in the region who had fled to other states in the country while some others are refugees in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Also, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) notes that there are more than 2.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a result of the insurgency in the region with several children orphaned.

An intensified action to combat the insurgents by the Federal Government gave need for the deployment of more military intervention to liberate all the communities taken by the insurgents.

The intervention recorded huge success as the military recovered most of the territories occupied by the terrorists and guaranteed the safety of indigenes in return back to their communities.

Irrespective of this, concerned citizens observe that the Federal Government has evolved pragmatic efforts at rebuilding, reconstructing and rehabilitating the region although there have been earlier several humanitarian interventions.

The nterventions include those from the Federal Government, various United Nations agencies, international and local non-governmental organisations.

Observers, however, note that the intervention has suffered effective coordination and synergy among development partners and humanitarian actors.

To address this, Federal Government set up the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI) for effective action on the region’s reconstruction.

Inaugurated on Oct. 26, 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari, the initiative will serve as the primary national strategy, coordination and advisory body for all humanitarian interventions, transformations and long term economic development of the region.

Parts of its mandates include the safe return, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons, including IDPs and refugees.

The presidency appointed retired Gen. Theophilus Danjuma to serve as the committee’s chairman with members of the committee drawn from key ministries departments and agencies.

The committee has embarked on an assessment of the level of destruction in the region and has developed strategies to adopt in rebuilding it as soon as possible to ensure safe resettlements of the displaced persons.

Mr Tijjanni Tumsah, vice-chairman of the committee said PCNI ought to be the apex governing body for coordination to provide guidance for all interventions in the region, including humanitarian, reconstruction and resettlement.

He said that the first charge the committee received was the collation and harmonisation of all existing intervention and resources from all stakeholders.

“The committee developed a plan of action referred to as the Buhari Plan which contains holistic approach to addressing the root causes of the insurgency and a guide to achieving its mandates,’’ he said.

While noting that more than 7 billion dollars would be needed to rebuild the region, he observed that Buhari Plan would serve as a blueprint in rebuilding a safer and prosperous north-eastern region for socio-economic recovery and development.

“Buhari Plan is a five-year time framework which is divided into three components for immediate implementation which are; the short term (immediate), intermediate and long term.

“The short term components would focus on immediate comprehensive relief, social stabilisation and early recovery aimed at addressing the immediate challenge of more than seven million people in need.

“The intermediate component would focus on relocation, rehabilitation and resettlement aimed at supporting the voluntary resettlement of 2.4 million displaced persons.

“The long term component would focus on economic and development strategies of the north-east which is aimed at providing sustainable growth for 21.4 million citizens.

“We hope to achieve all these in a five-year time frame; the short term component from six months to 12 months, the intermediate component between six months and 24 months and the long term component from six months to 60 months.’’ Tumsah said.

He said that under the Buhari Plan, more than 21,000 projects had been listed for implementation by ministries, departments and agencies, states, development partners, international and local non-governmental organisations.

He also said that quite a number of the projects had been captured in the 2017 budget with an allocation of more than N100 billion naira.

“The PCNI on April 5 recorded another milestone in achieving its mandate with the launch of the Dashboard, a web based platform that captures and displays important information on the interventions in the region,’’ he said.

He said the platform was designed to ensure and effective coordination of programmes and projects in the region by giving update on the effectiveness of interventions.

Mr Mohammed Danjuma, Head of Programme, Management and Coordination of the committee said the dashboard contained important information on the Buhari Plan.

“Quite a number of actors are engaged the recovery efforts in the north-east and a huge amount is already being sunk to addressing the humanitarian needs, the early recovery and ultimately, the long term recovery.

“The need for proper coordination by all these multiple stakeholders cannot be overemphasised, hence the dashboard was developed to provide coordination and synergy.

“In the dashboard, development partners would be able to register, see for themselves what have been done and where needs urgent attention and resources.

“It would also enable PCNI to identify where they are gaps and advise actors on projects that are of priority and how to direct their resources and ensure that there is no duplication of efforts.

“The dashboard is a result based tool that would enable us to track our progress in the implementation of the Buhari Plan and a periodically assess the progress we are making,’’ he said.

Danjuma said that the committee was committed to ensuring the safe and dignified return of the people back to their communities putting in place security and basic social amenities.

To quicken the rebuilding, Mr Rashid Bemassaud, World Bank Country Director in Nigeria said the bank would support Nigerian government with 775 million dollars.

He said the intervention fund would focus on addressing service delivery gaps in health, education, social protection, livelihood deficit, youth unemployment and social cohesion issues created by the insurgency.

Similarly, the United Kingdom said it would continue to support the Nigerian government in intervention for the reconstruction of the region.

Mr Robert Watt, Head Region Office of the UK Department for International Development, said the humanitarian funds from the UK to Nigeria increased from 1 million pounds in 2015 to 82 million pounds in 2017.

Also, Mr Edward Kallon, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator to Nigeria, said there had been significant scale-up in the humanitarian intervention in the region.

All in all, concerned citizens insist that Nigerian humanitarian crises are enormous and urgent rebuilding the north-eastern region of the country affected by insurgency is fundamental to national development.

For urgent rehabilitation of the region, they call on donors and kind hearted Nigerians to contribute generously toward its rebuilding and reconstruction for a greater Nigeria.

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