Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
House of Representatives Committee on North East Development Commission has advocated for improved funding for the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to enable it meets the development gaps and impact of Boko Haram crisis.
The Chairperson of House of Representatives Committee on North East Development Commission, Hon. Khadija Bukar-Abba, during an oversight visit to the commission, said the present funding was grossly inadequate.
Bukar-Abba who led members of the committee to Maiduguri, said given the enormity of humanitarian challenges in the conflict zone, the commission required large fund to enable it effectively discharge its duties.
The Chairperson of the committee, speaking to journalists after visits to various project sites, said: “The NEDC is grossly underfunded, and given the quantum of work that needs to be done, we strongly feel the commission should get more funding.”
She said: “We have visited some of the IDP camps and had a firsthand experience of the depth of suffering people are going through, especially the women and children.
“We have also seen the impressive works that the NEDC has achieved in such a short period of a year since it commenced operation and it was wonderful. But we have also observed how overwhelming the work that the NEDC needed to do has been, and how their progress may be affected due to lack of adequate resources.
“We visited Ngwom Village in Mafa local government, about 18km outside Maiduguri, and we have seen the 1,000 housing projects that the NEDC has embarked on, and we are excited that the project would be concluded before the end of this year. That was quite remarkable.
“At the IDP camps, we have seen multitudes of women and children and older persons who needed food more than anything else to survive, and we felt the challenges are overwhelming and the NEDC is underfunded.”
The committee members were taken round several project sites and food warehouses of the commission within Maiduguri by the Managing Director/CEO of NEDC, Mohammed Alkali.
At one of the IDP camps visited by the committee, the displaced lamented how the problem of inadequate classrooms had hampered the education of the children.
At the Customs House IDP camp, one Muhammed Abacha, who addressed the committee members, complained that food and inadequate classrooms had been a significant challenge for them in the camp.
“We in Customs House IDP camp are facing a serious challenge of lack of food to feed with,” said Abacha.
“We have only nine classrooms here in the camp, and we have well over 3,000 school-age kids in this camp. We need more classrooms; else our children will continue to roam about the camp without any form of education.
The MD/CEO of NEDC, Alkali had however explained that food kept in stores were released to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for distribution to IDP camps and areas in need of humanitarian support.
He explained that the core mandate of NEDC, among other things, is to “receive and manage funds from allocation of the Federal Account, international donors for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy level, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the North-East states.”