By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
North-east lawmakers in the National Assembly yesterday demanded an increase of N55 billion from the N45 billion allocated to the Presidential Committee on North-east Initiative (PCNI) in the 2017 budget to bring the total vote for the region to N100 billion.
The lawmakers in a statement in Abuja, said only N12 billion was allocated to Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) in 2016 budget out of which they said only 75 per cent was released. The amount, they added, was less than 10 per cent of the $449 contributed by international donor countries and agencies.
According to them, the allocation “was grossly inadequate to address the emergency humanitarian crisis we are faced with compared to the $1.0 billion which is equivalent to over N305 billion that the International Donor Countries and Agencies are trying to raise.”
They tasked the federal “government to work in synergy in coordinating the human response action in the North-east and other crisis affected areas in the country to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.”
They also called on state governments, individuals, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGO) to come to the aid of the affected states in North-east just as they appealed to the media to continue to galvanise support to the affected region.
They added that besides PCNI, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Dangote Foundation, Borno State Emergency Management Agency, some NGOs and individuals such as General T. Y Danjuma (rtd.) and business magnate, Aliko Dangote, “Nigerians are just watching us going through this horrific experience in our life time.”
They added that Borno State Government was overwhelmed, noting that with the meagre resources coming to the state, there is little the state government could do as “the state and local governments were using almost all they get to do the basics of feeding the internally displaced persons (IDPs), paying salaries and reconstructing, resettling and rehabilitating the recaptured and accessible areas.
While highlighting the impact of Boko Haram crisis on the region, they said 14.8 million people were affected by the crisis with the estimated cost of destructions put at over $9 billion while up to 7.0 million people in the North-east are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Other effects of insurgency in the region which they listed included the emergence of 1.8 million IDPs; 2.5 million children malnourished with majority of them in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe; 1.3 million children having no access to education; 65,000 children orphaned due to the crisis; 500 schools destroyed in Borno State alone; over 100 churches and mosques destroyed; 1.0 returning lDPs without anything to start life with and 100,000 people lost their lives as a result of the crisis.
Other effects, according to them, are destruction of 250 health centers, about 800 municipal building comprising police stations, secretariat, prisons, other public buildings and 800,000 houses while 500,000 livestock are lost and about 726 energy distribution lines destroyed with huge damage to the ecosystem.
They therefore enumerated nine steps needed to save more lives and assist the people of North-east as adopted NGOs operating in the affected areas. The steps as listed by the senators are: prioritise the protection of civilians; urgent scale up of the food and nutrition; access to more, better and safe quality education; safe access to people must be guaranteed; greater investment in further strengthening United Nations (UN);
Others are government and NGO leadership, decision making, coordination and the accountability of the humanitarian response; ensure all returnees are safe, voluntary and dignified; build resilience and increase local capacity to defend and fend for themselves; increase security and protection around the Lake Chad region to encourage safe return of fishermen and farmers and kick-start the process to recharge the Lake Chad
They further disclosed that Norway in collaboration with Nigeria, Germany and UNOCHA hosted an international donor conference in Oslo yesterday with Nigerian delegation in attendance. The Nigerian delegation to the event were the Governor of Borno State, Hon. Kashim Shettima; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema and the Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.