By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
The North East Development Commission, NEDC on Monday in Borno state organized a stakeholders consultative forum to engage in a robust master plan towards producing credible and comprehensive strategies for recovery and sustainable socio-economic development of the North-East sub-region.
Recall that the North East region, especially the BAY states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe have been suffering due to over a decade of serious violence perpetrated by insurgents, leading to thousands of lives lost, and critical infrastructures such as schools, hospitals, private and other public buildings destroyed.
The stakeholders meeting has representatives of the Borno State Governor, who is the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Jida Shuwa in attendance.
It also attracted many dignitaries from the Humanitarian Partners, Traditional, Religious, the Academia, Security Agencies, the Media, Judiciary and Civil Society Organizations.
The occasion took place at the Multi-Purpose Hall, Prime Hotel in Maiduguri.
In his welcome address, the Chief Host and Managing Director, NEDC, Alhaji Goni Alkali said, the Commission under the present administration is leaving no stone unturned to address most of the short term and long term challenges in the region, hence, the need to conduct this stakeholders’ engagement based on the needs assessment of the zone to have 10-year North-East Stabilisation and Development Master Plan (NESDMP).
The Meeting, he said, is to allow for meaningful interaction and inputs from the stakeholders on the various aspects of the Plan before its final adoption as a workable blueprint for the wholesale development and rehabilitation of the North East region ravaged by insurgency.
His words: “We are here as Critical Stakeholders in Borno State, to have our own state-wide Consultative Meeting on the draft of the 10-year Stabilization and Master Development Plan of the NEDC.
“The Meeting is to allow for meaningful interaction and input from all stakeholders on the various aspects of the Plan before its final adoption as a workable blueprint for the wholesale development and rehabilitation of the North East region devastated by insurgency,” Alkali said.
He, therefore, enjoined all participants to feel free, cross-fertilize ideas that would contribute towards realizing the goals and objectives of the Master Plan.
The Lead Consultant, Dr Kassim Gidado in his presentation said the North East region is one of the most impoverished and educationally backward in Nigeria, adding that, the lingering Boko Haram crisis has worsened the situation which needs to be addressed holistically.
He said, the Commission has conducted similar and separate engagement with stakeholders in Gombe, Bauchi and Yobe states, while after finishing with Borno, the Commission will move to other states of Adamawa and Taraba for the same purpose that will help alleviate poverty and create prosperity in the region as well as come out with some pillars for sustainable development.
Some of these pillars according to Gidado include rehabilitation, reorientation and reintegration of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, peacebuilding, Law and Justice, socio-economic development in the primary, secondary and tertiary education, healthcare, nutrition, sanitation & hygiene.
Others are adequate funding, housing, transportation, climate mitigation & adaptation ad well as waste management, agriculture, food security and agribusiness, monitoring and evaluation among other pillars of institutional changes.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, ably represented by Group Captain Sadeeq Shehu (Rtd), commended NEDC, Borno State Government and security agencies for their unflinching support and collaboration efforts defeat insurgents in the region.
She assured that her ministry will continue to support the Commission to realize its aims and objectives to salvage the North East and its people as a result of the over decade Boko Haram crisis.
In their goodwill messages, Speaker Borno State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Abdulkarim Lawal said, the meeting is apt and timely, in view of the commitment and dedication of the Borno State Government under the leadership of Governor Babagana Zulum in the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement processes in a dignified manner and in accordance with the Kampala Convention.
The Speaker, represented by Hon Gambomi Marte, Member Marte State Constituency, pledged the full support of the legislative arms to ensure good and inclusive deliberations come up with the required Masterplan and implementation towards sustainable development in the region.
Garrison Commander and Chairman Borno State Security Forum, BoSSF, Brigadier General Abubakar Haruna thanked NEDC for providing the needed platform to engage stakeholders develop the region, and assured maximum support from all security agencies to restore peace and harmony not only in the northeast, but the country as a whole.
While declaring the meeting open, Governor Zulum, represented by SSG, Alhaji Usman Shuwa thanked the Commission for organizing a very crucial meeting that would provide opportunities to brainstorm on the way forward.
He said, “Borno State Government has since constituted a high powered Committee to come up with inputs on the extent of physical and psychological trauma inflicted on the people of the state.
“This meeting is timely as it will help the State Government in coming up with strategies to address challenges associated with thousands of repent Boko Haram sect and reintegrate them into the society”.