Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The European Union (EU) Commission has announced a support package of â‚¬143 million to help the early recovery and reconstruction needs in Nigeriaâ€™s North-east, which has been ravaged by insurgency.
The package is for the provision of basic services including energy, education and health, job creation, strengthening, monitoring and evaluation systems, as well as public financial management systems.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who signed the agreement for the package on behalf of Nigeria in Brussels, Belgium, said the support underscored yet another positive effort in the collaboration between the EU and Nigerian government to collectively work towards ameliorating the sufferings of victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.
A statement issued by the ministerâ€™s media adviser, Mr. Akpandem James, said Udoma noted that the financing agreement signed Thursday was for the sum of â‚¬20 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
â€œA total sum of â‚¬143 million is now secured from the EU under this framework for ameliorating the sufferings of the affected population estimated at more than 14 million people,â€ Udoma added.
According to him, since the resurgence of the humanitarian crisis in the North-east, the Nigerian government has devoted substantial resources to bring the situation under control, meet the humanitarian needs of the victims, and restore normalcy to the area.
However, in spite of the efforts, the minister said there still exists a huge funding gap, adding that this was why the Nigerian government was appreciative of the support of the EU and the United Nations system, which have been very useful in leading the other development partners in the support process.
Udoma noted that the process for the selection of implementation partners was at an advanced stage with the World Bank and some of the components of the project.
â€œThis demonstrates the fact that the EU is committed to the timely execution of the project, and the bureaucracy that is traditionally associated with the EDF instrument will be minimised in the implementation of this project,â€ he added.
In his remarks, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said the support package would assist approximately 1.3 million internally displaced people (IDP) and affected communities in and around Borno State.
â€œOur assistance will not only target the immediate needs of the people, it will also help to restore basic services, stimulate employment and create livelihood opportunities, particularly for women and young people,â€ Mimika said.
The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: â€œThe European Union is committed to get lifesaving aid to those in need in Nigeria. Emergency aid can help them but to do so, aid organisations need safe and full access to do their jobs.â€
He added that EU also needed to think about the long-term implications and how to help communities recover.
â€œI have visited the country several times and seen the sufferings of the victims of terrorism and also the strength and determination of the local people to rebuild their lives. It is this desire to rebuild a better future that the EU will support,â€ he stressed.