By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – BARELY four hours after Senate confirmed former Military governor of old Oyo State, Major General Paul Tarfa, retd as the Chairman and ten other board members of the newly established North East Development Commission (NEDC), the Upper Chamber was confronted with a take off budget of N55 billion for the Commission.
This was presented yesterday to the joint National Assembly Committee on Special Duties for scrutiny and subsequent approval.
Speaking yesterday during the presentation at the National Assembly, the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed Goni Alkali whose appointment was confirmed by the Senate only yesterday said that if approved, a total sum of N10 billion will be used for take off while N45 billion would be used for humanitarian interventions.
Alkali said, “In the 2019 federal government budget, the commission was allocated a sum of N55 billion. N10 billion for take off and N45 billion for humanitarian and developmental interventions in the region.”
“ln the budget, these figures were allocated as line items and below we express how the Commission plans to utilize the amounts towards achieving the desired outcomes.”
The Managing Director who noted that recruitment of the initial core staff as well as appointment of critical consultants/professionals to assist in the take-off of the commission was also included in the budget estimate, said, “Rent and/or renovate and furnish a temporary head office of the commission in Maiduguri, Borno State and start-up offices in the six states and Abuja, planning and implementation of physical and socio-economic reconstruction of the zone as provided in clause (8) of the act is included in the budget.”
According to him, the commission will also commence action immediately on all other matters stipulated under the functions of the commission under clause (8) in addition to the development of the Master Plan of the commission.
He told the lawmakers that the commission will develop Special Programmes on access to education and capacity building to cater for children to ensure continuity of schooling in the camps or in other locations, accelerated learning for those whose education had been truncated, organised vocational and skill acquisition training for youths and women and will also give specialized training for all vulnerable groups.
Alkali who explained that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UN-OCHA) estimated that in 2019, 7.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States out of the total population of about 13.4 million people, said, “This needs assessment cut across all the focal areas; food security, nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), shelter, early recovery and livelihood, education, protection, gender-based violence, child protection, logistics, Displacement Management Systems, Coordination and emergency telecommunications amongst others.
“As per their estimate, the sum of about USD850.00 million (N260.00 billion) is required to meet these humanitarian needs in 2019 in the three states,” Alkali said.
According to him, in consultation with the UN-OCHA and other critical stakeholders, the Commission will determine priority areas for intervention that would allow for the quick re-settlement and early recovery for the lDPs.
The Managing Director said, “The ultimate is to make the lDPsself-reliant once again through capacity building and empowerment (MSMEs finance schemes, cash-for work etc) and prepare them for their eventual return to their original habitants or new settlements as the case may be.
“Though not captured by the UN report, there are some IDPs in Taraba State due to communal clashes and same principles shall apply to them as stated above. To scale up support for camp management and site facilitation to improve physical conditions on sites. The return of the IDPs to their original places or new settlements is the desirable outcome but in achieving this, we must create conducive and secured environment for their social well-being, social cohesion and sustainability when they return. Therefore, the commission in 2019 will work to develop a formidable framework for: Repatriation, Re-integration, Re-habilitation and Reconstruction (4R5 framework), De-radicalization, De-mobilization and Disarmament (3Ds framework). The protection of the environment from ecological degradation or natural disasters and other man-made phenomenon will also be done.”
Responding, Chairman, Senate Committee on Special Duties, Senator Abdulaziz Murtala Nyako ADC, Adamawa Central who was flanked by his house of Representatives counterpart, Rep Sani Zorro said that the members will seat and take an immediate position.
The NEDC was established by the NEDC Act 2017, charged with the responsibility of, among other things, receiving and managing funds allocated by the Federal Government and International donors for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency and terrorism as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in
the North East states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.
The Commission shall have its Head Office in Maidugurl, Borno State and shall establish an office in each member state of the North East Zone.