By Charly Agwam
The Northeast Governors Forum has lamented the 45.32 billion naira in the 2021 proposed budget allocated for capital expenditure in the sub-region while also demanding for a review of the proposed budget ‘in the spirit of equity and inclusion’.
In the communique made available to newsmen on Friday after their 3rd meeting in Yola, Adamawa State, the Forum noted with dismay, that despite the challenges of development, especially in the area of infrastructural deficit in the Northeast, the 2021 proposed budget makes provision for only 45.32 billion naira for Capital projects in the sub-region representing a paltry 0.35% of the proposed N13.02 trillion naira.
According to the Forum, the Northeast is highly short-changed as they demanded review of the 2021 budget in the spirit of equity and inclusion by the National Assembly.
It equally mandated the Northeast caucus of both the Senate and House of Representatives to take immediate steps to redress the imbalance.
The forum observed that the sub-region has been unfairly treated in the provision of roads infrastructure by the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing and further noted with dismay, the slow or outright non-existent progress on the pace of the roads already allocated in the sub-region and therefore called for the immediate reactivation and review of the comatose existing road contracts in the sub-region.
It also noted with dismay, the lack of budgetary provision in respect of the Mambilla Hydro Power Project in the 2021 Budgetary Proposals and called on the Federal Government to make the project a matter of serious priority, resolve all encumbrances around the project and order action on site.
In the communique, the forum said it has critically examined the challenges of education in the sub-region and resolved to adopt a regional approach by being deliberate on transforming education, especially at the basic level as well as establishment of Northeast Council on Education.
It reaffirmed the commitment of member states within Sub-region to enforce the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) law to protect and ensure all children have an opportunity to acquire basic education.
The forum further called on the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to espedite action on the development of the Northeast strategic master plan and ensure projects are demand-driven to guarantee impact and accountability as it frowned dispassionately at a situation where projects are imposed on the states without due consultation.
The forum’s meeting lamented that, gender-based violence is still a major nuisance in the sub-region and called on all the governors of the zone to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 and ensure the rapid dispensation of justice on gender-based violence.
It stressed the need for sub-regional integration on significantly cross-cutting issues that could mutually be beneficial to states within the region and agreed that, the state governors within the regon should appoint Special Advisers on Regional Integration.
The forum further critically examined the status of the post- Covid-19 Econonic Stimulus Package of 2.3 trillion naira and solicited for equitable and fair treatment especially in view of the economic and social challenges facing the sub-region.
Furthermore, the forum resolved to engage Arewa Research and Development Projects (ARDP), to provide technical support in key areas of development such as agriculture and education and also resolved to pursue vigorously the issue of securing admission for its candidates in Nigerian tertiary institutions to fill its quota.
In the communique, the Forum noted that, there is relative improvement in the security situation in the sub-region, however, it said the activities of Boko Haram, bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers are still constituting a threat to sustainable development while commending the effort of the security agencies in the sub-region towards tackling criminal activities, as the forum agreed to strengthen community
policing and action to complement their efforts.
Governors in attendance include: Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state, Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe state, Babagana Zulum of Borno state, and Ahmed Fintiri of Adamawa state,
Governors of Taraba and Yobe states were represented by their deputies.
Bauchi state was selected to host the fourth meeting of the Northeast Governors Forum (NEGF) scheduled for 3rd- 4th of March, 2021.