By Dike Onwuamaeze
The North East Development Commission (NEDC) is set to launch a N6 billion Education Endowment Fund (NEDC-EEF) that would enable 29,466 indigenes of the zone to have access to higher education scholarship awards for Bachelors, Masters and Doctorates university degrees.
The NEDC also intends to use Information Communications and Technology (ICT) and agriculture as tools to rebuild the economy of the north-east that has been thoroughly devastated by the insurgent activities of the Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement.
These activities were disclosed in a statement titled, “The NEDC Report Card for the Out-going Year 2020,” which was issued by the Head, Corporate Affairs of the NEDC, Mr. Abba Musa.
Musa, further revealed that the NEDC’s management and staff, under the leadership of its managing director and chief executive officer (CEO), Mr. Mohammed G. Alkali, have been working hard to fulfill its mandate to reconstruct, resettle and rebuild the region after more than a decade of devastation caused by the menace of Boko Haram insurgency.
The commission is saddled with the responsibility of developing the North East states in terms of education, roads, health, agriculture, industries and above all peace and security of the region.
It expressed intention to collaborate with The United Nations’ agencies and other international donors, partners, NGO’s and community-based organisations to promote and rebuild the region as advocated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Musa said: “The NEDC-EEF is for the purpose of building the human capital of member states in the region. It shall operate through provision of scholarships to deserving and eligible beneficiaries.
“The commission shall put in place a board of trustees to prudently manage the N6 billion set aside for the fund. Part of the fund shall be specially used to cater for specific groups such as orphans, youths in sports and those whose education was forcibly truncated by the decade-long insurgency.”
The scholarships, according to him, should be granted to candidates at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degree levels, across all the North-East states, as follows: 2,056 candidates for ICT skills; 2,056 beneficiaries to undertake bachelor’s degrees in relevant programmes in universities located in the North-east; 336 beneficiaries from the 112 local government areas of the North-East for master’s degree programmes in demand-driven areas in Nigerian or overseas institutions while 18 doctorate degree scholarships would be awarded to beneficiaries from 18 senatorial districts of the region.
The breakdown of the scholarship award also included a special support to 5,000 beneficiaries such as orphans, those whose education were truncated by Boko Haram.
“The project will also offer special support to post- secondary scholarship award to 2,000 beneficiaries of the Safe School Initiative, youths engaged in sports and training and re-training of teachers, nurses and midwives with target beneficiaries of over 20,000 annually,” Musa said.
The commission also planned to execute an Integrated Agricultural Scheme (IAS) that shall support smallholder farmers to return to productivity and regain their lost livelihoods in rice production.
The NEDC would also roll out service centres and distribution of tractors for mechanisation to states-based Tractor Hiring Units (THU) and distribute improved rice and vegetable seeds and other agricultural inputs to farmer cooperatives and commodity associations.
The commission also intended to empower 1,500 farmers in each of the six states, to do one hectare each, resulting in 9,000ha for the scheme this season.
Some of the achievements of the NEDC in 2020 include the provision of medical services to over 15,529 patients. It also provided a “total number of 2029 supportive laboratory tests on 851 patients during the course of the outreaches to aid diagnosis and prepare both general surgical and eye surgical patients.”
The NEDC also keyed into the national agenda for ICT development in Nigeria by launching its first ICT Enterprise Resources Training Centre in April 2020 at the Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi State.
“About 400 youths are being trained on different modules. This program was designed to inculcate skills on information technology and foster the growth entrepreneurial skills among the youths in the region. The overall objective of this program is to improve access to IT resources within the region and empower residents of the North East with the necessary vocational education, skills, and tools that can make them self-reliant,” Musa said.