REBUILDING THE NORTHEAST

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The AfDP recent intervention should be deployed meaningfully

In a bid to restore socio-economic activities in the Northeast, the African Development Bank (AfDP) recently made another significant contribution of $258m (about N100m). The intervention is aimed at bolstering rehabilitation efforts in the areas of emergency transition, economic recovery and peace-building efforts. Sadly, in spite of the humongous amounts government, multilateral institutions and local aid agencies as well as the international community have deployed in the North-east, the displaced persons continue to lack the basic necessities of life. For that reason, the AfDP intervention, which entails special gender considerations, should be closely monitored.

We thank the AfDP and indeed, other global bodies for their consistent support in tackling the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Northeast occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency. The process of rebuilding the Northeast is a tasking one as it requires the collaborative effort of all the critical stakeholders. The AfDP programme is envisaged to provide training for women and youth entrepreneurs to increase their chances for employment and business opportunities. About 9,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and heads of vulnerable households will also receive direct economic assistance while about 2,000 small and medium scale enterprises will receive business development support. In addition, about 2,900 construction artisans and mechanics will also get help to improve their productivity.

That poverty has become an ever-present situation, especially in the Northeast should be of great concern to our leaders. With schools shut, markets burnt, homes and communities razed and all forms of economic activities crippled, the need for intervention can hardly be over emphasised. Unfortunately, there has been a high level of corruption which has exacerbated the poverty of majority of the people. By diverting scarce resources meant for the most vulnerable of our people, living is being made increasingly difficult for them. This challenge must be addressed.

To rebuild the region of the country battered by the Boko Haram inurgency, the presidency had projected the sum of about $9 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of broken infrastructure in the six states of Borno, Yobe Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba. The figure was based on a pre-financing assessment jointly carried out by the federal and state governments alongside the global partners – the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union. The figure also tallies with the estimates of N2 trillion suggested by the Chairman, PCNI, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd).

Indeed, after almost a decade of violence in the Northeast, virtually all public and private institutions like schools, hospitals, markets, police stations, local government secretariat buildings, roads, bridges, and even electricity poles 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. But with the AfDP intervention, some14 million affected people, including 2.3 million internal displaced persons will benefit from health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and related services, particularly now that some of the IDPs are returning to their ancestral homes. As Danjuma once rightly observed, the provision of these essential services and job creation in safe locations will play a huge role in ensuring the sustainability of the post-crisis recovery.

However, the primary responsibility of returning the region to peace and security rests squarely on the states. Even so, the long-suffering people of the Northeast could still do with more funds. Besides, the management of the funds being funnelled to the region should also be transparent. Reports of diversion of materials and funds meant for the rehabilitation of the IDPs are certainly not helpful. We demand accountability on how the huge sums of money belonging to the most vulnerable people in our society are spent. Government, at all levels, must ensure that resources meant for soothing the pains of the displaced are not misappropriated by its greedy officials.