Its two years since the constitution of the Board and management of the North East Development Commission, (NEDC). Pleasantly amazing, people of the Northeast region ravaged, devastated and ruined by over 12 years of Boko Haram insurgency have cause to again brighten their faces with smiles.
As the agency of the FGN mandated to lead the task of the socio-economic recovery of states in Northeast Nigeria, afflicted by perennial terrorism and its concomitant destructions and dislocations of normal life, it has proved its mettle of capability sufficiently, despite sickening challenges.
Thus, empowered by the FGN and other international intervention agencies, the Alhaji Mohammed Goni Alkali-led NEDC management embarked on this assignment with every seriousness and vigour , under the broad program of Rapid Response Intervention (RRI). Candidly, the NEDC management has crossed the proverbial ribicon registering its conspicuously resounding presence in the region in the process of restoring the lost socio-economic prosperity and glories of the people.
Therefore, early after it’s inauguration, the NEDC management launched an ambitious agenda tagged, North-East Stabilization and Development Masterplan Project (NESDMP). And 224 projects in sensitive sectors, covering the 112 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the six states of the Northeast region were enunciated for Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, and Taraba states.
In the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the NEDC has spearheaded an exemplary ICT revolution in all the six states of the region. So far, by Year 2021, the NEDC trained and graduated 2,400 youths in ICT skills acquisition, spanning two batches across the Northeast region’s six states. The trainees were empowered upon graduation with starter packs to begin a life of independency. The region is bristling with an appreciable population of youths, who are ICT compliant.
The State Governor of Bauchi, Alhaji Bala Mohammed and his Adamawa state counterpart, Alhaji Umaru Fintiri have glowingly applauded the NEDC on projects execution in their states, specially, the training in ICT, which have kept them off the streets and away from recruitments into terrorists sects.
The agricultural sector has also been energized and boosted by the NEDC in the six targeted states. The commission has implemented various interventions programs under this sector commencing with sponsored training of select youths on farming and agricultural mechanization techniques, innovations, reactivation of Farm Service Centers and establishment of new ones which are handed over to farmers in the region to checkmate the incident of food shortage occasioned by insurgency.
This is in addition to the commission’s supply of agricultural machineries and inputs to encourage farming endeavors. Each state of the region has felt the commission’s intervention in agriculture, evidenced in greenish farm plantations dotting the region.
In the age of insurgency, the Northeast region faced challenges of shelter, as insurgents destroyed residential houses and forced millions of people into IDPs camps. A region already suffering from shortage of houses, the destructions to existing houses and commercial premises dealt a heavy blow on the natives and compounded the housing challenges in the region. Before insurgency, there were estimated stock of about four million houses in the region, but terrorism destroyed over 500,000 out of this quantum. Borno state, the hub of terrorism was the hardest hit by the satanic fury of insurgents.
However, the NEDC, through the presidential order immediately intervened to salvage the pathetic situation. It launched the first batch of 1,000 units of houses from the envisaged 10,000 housing units for in the region in Borno state. These first 1,000 Houses sited at Ngowom Village, Mafa LGA of the state have been completed, commissioned and handed over to Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno state for onward allocation to returnee IDPs.
Meanwhile, the NEDC has performed the foundation laying ceremony of 500 units of similar housing projects, each in Yobe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Gombe and work has commenced aggressively on the sites, with modalities being worked out to launch same in Taraba state.
Boko Haram’s ferocious assault on education and its facilities was appalling, as admitted by security analysts. Insurgents attacked schools, razed structures to ashes, slaughtered or kidnapped staff and students. Both primary and secondary schools were massively affected by the insurgents’ onslaughts. It threw an estimated over 600,000 children of school age out of school and barred another over 1 million of them from attempting to acquire western education. NEDC has massively constructed, rehabilitated and reconstructed many destroyed schools spanning the region.
The glory of education is gradually being restored in the region.It has constructed mega schools, provided classroom blocks in some cases in primary and secondary schools in the Northeast. It has also funded soft-support to teachers’ training, curriculum upgrades and teaching materials. The commission is either constructing three Composite Mega Schools or upgrading existing ones in each state of the region, and in every senatorial district.
And through the Education Endowment Fund launched by the NEDC has expended N6 billion on annual scholarships to indigent students, spread across the region. It has placed hundreds of students under annual scholarships, in diverse disciplines’ stretching from first to doctoral degrees.
The NEDC has also registered strong presence in food and other relief materials supplies to displaced victims of insurgency since it commenced operations. The United Nation Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Ambassador Edward Kallon once expressed worries over the food insecurity conditions prevalent in the Northeast. The NEDC promptly responded by flagging off food and non-food items distribution at various IDPs camps to lessen the plight of the victims.
In Bauchi state for instance, NEDC distributed hundreds of bags of rice, gallons of vegetable oil, bags of sugar, cartons of spaghetti and macaroni. The commission also donated non-food items like blankets, mats and mosquito nets. And it replicated the gesture everywhere IDPs were located in the Northeast.
The health sector is another area, the NEDC management has significantly impacted on the lives of the people of the Northeast. During the outbreak of COVID-19, it donated and equipped infectious diseases laboratory for the testing of the coronavirus and other diseases in Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba States, Adamawa and Gombe states . These facilities also serviced members of the public in these locations.
Additionally, NEDC has constructed and commissioned Primary Health Care (PHC) center in Nafada, renovated existing PHCs at Gadi, Shaganawo, Tashan Kalgo, Shongom and upgraded one of the PHC to a Cottage hospital. NEDC has also constructed two first class Burns Centres in Yola and Maiduguri respectively to carter for victims of injuries sustained from bomb explosions. It also sponsored the training of some natives on the techniques of detonating bombs and landmines.
The commission has spared no aspect necessary in the rebuilding of collapsed infrastructures, particularly roads and bridges. Today, the Northeast is gradually being reconnected by the reconstruction of the roads and bridges damaged by insurgents. In Adamawa state, the Commission has commissioned the reconstructed three critical bridges in Kudzum, Dilechim and Wurro Ngayandi in Michika and Madagali LGAS of the state, which severed Adamawa from Borno state. Likewise, the roads, Alkaleri – Futuk, in Alkaleri LGA and Alkaleri -Kirfi- to Gombe Abba road in Kirfi LGA of Bauchi state, destroyed since 2014 and so forth.
The detailed interventions of the NEDC in rebuilding damaged critical infrastructures in the Northeast or victims support cannot be comprehensively captured in a single piece, including the logistics support to security formations. But so far, so good, the NEDC management has lived up to its mandate of bringing instant succour to distressed people of the region, as it looks forward to 2022 with more projects execution.