Rebuilding the devastated areas requires the commitment of all the critical stakeholders

Even though some villages and towns in the North-east, especially in the troubled Borno State, are still under the control of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, the presidency recently disclosed that a huge sum of about $9 billion would be needed for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of broken infrastructure in the six states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

The figure was a product of the recent pre-financing assessment jointly carried out by the federal and states governments alongside the global partners – the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union – at a workshop in Abuja. Incidentally, the figure was more or less the same with that of the Chairman, Presidential Committee on North East Initiatives (PCNI), Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.) who recently gave N2 trillion as an estimate for rebuilding the devasted areas of the country.

Hopefully, the global partners, whose members have signed an agreement to smoothen the valuation, will support the efforts toward the reconstruction of the affected states in addition to the offer of $800 million by the World Bank.

However, commendable as these ongoing efforts might appear, the magnitude of devastation of public and private property, infrastructure, businesses and, by extension, the general day- to- day life of the people in the affected areas is huge. Therefore, we strongly believe that the task of rebuilding the damaged areas will require a strong commitment by the critical stakeholders, including the highly politically active Borno Elders Group, if anything worthwhile is to be achieved.

After almost a decade of a reign of violence in the North-east geo-political zone, virtually all public and private institutions like schools, hospitals, markets, police stations, local government secretariat buildings, roads, bridges, culverts and even electricity poles supplying electricity had been laid waste.The worst hit state is Borno where even privately owned infrastructure like palaces of traditional rulers, mosques, churches, etc., were all destroyed by the terrorists. So bad was the situation that at a point, the state government had to halt academic activities in public/private primary and secondary schools in the state capital, and sent all the students back home not only for their safety but also to accommodate families displaced by the insurgents from different parts of the state.

Now that the situation seems to be normalising, we urge those who made pledges to the affected states and communities to make good their commitment to rebuilding the North-east. By that they will be sending a very strong message to the Boko Haram insurgents that they have not achieved their nefarious agenda.

Apart from developing the infrastructure, human development must also not be neglected. The federal and Borno State governments as well as other stakeholders involved in the reconstruction must give adequate attention to how they can give the children the requisite education that would help them excel in life.

Unless drastic steps are taken to fix the affected areas, many people in Borno may be forced to leave the state. That can only make the terrorists to claim victory. Yet as an official of the United Nations said recently, if we build industries and employ those who decide to go to school, the young ones who may still habour inclinations to terrorism would start envying the ones who go to school. That is the best way to defeat terrorism.

Therefore, it is heart warming that the United Nations has promised to increase its presence in Borno and other North-eastern states devastated by Boko Haram. Well-meaning Nigerians, corporate organisations and other humanitarian groups should support the effort generously.