When the North East Development Commission (NEDC) was announced, I was very excited. I had followed with key interest the activities of the previous bodies tasked with rebuilding the insurgency-ravaged region, even though I had mixed feelings about their effectiveness. Needless to say, my hope was renewed that the North East will benefit from the NEDC’s dedication to its task, especially if recent reports and analyses are anything to go by. I read recently on the pages of the Daily Trust from the office of the focal person of the organization in Yobe State, that it is set to intervene in rebuilding structures destroyed by the insurgents across the state.
The State Coordinator of the NEDC, Dr Ali Ibrahim Abbas, was quoted as having said in Damaturu, during his assumption of office as the pioneer State Coordinator. He said it was the responsibility of NEDC to intervene on the damage done on social infrastructure such as schools, markets, houses, shops, palaces and office buildings destroyed by the insurgents. He proceeded to point out that aside rebuilding, resettlements and rehabilitation of people and communities, the NEDC has intensified efforts into looking at the immediate causes of these crises.
I was filled with more hope, and additionally, hope. This is because issues such as illiteracy, poverty and unemployment which still linger, have the potential to ignite another crisis if not addressed. And the commission’s willingness and doggedness in addressing it would have to put hope in the heart of every well-meaning Nigerian, or human being. It was also heartening to glean that the core mandates of the Yobe office was to ensure adequate security, while interfacing with the military, other security outfits, and the civilian populace. Provision of quality education, effective health care delivery and agriculture are the key indicators that will shape the main agenda of the commission. And the NEDC’s Abbas said already the commission has keyed into data collection of all the next-of-kin of persons who lost their lives due to insurgency. It immediately became clear that the Yobe example is but a continuation of that which began from a solid foundation in Abuja, from the commission’s leadership.
As the only federal government agency saddled with the sole responsibility of initiating and executing developmental and infrastructural projects in the North East, the NEDC’s task is huge, filling in the void left by now-defunct agencies which in the past carried out similar roles, like the TY Danjuma-led Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE), domiciled in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and responsible for such interventions before they were scrapped and directed to collapse into the newly-established NEDC.
Chaired by retired General Paul Tarfa, the NEDC certainly began on good footing, and it makes me feel good that solid people man the crucial stations of this, an agency whose work is of great import, and which touches upon the lives of many millions of Nigerians.
Like another writer recently wrote: “I will mention what I see when I see the NEDC. I see an organisation created out of sheer necessity, one tasked with handling a massively important task of rebuilding not only the infrastructure of the North East, but the spirit and hope of the people of the region, who have been ravaged by the menace of Boko Haram’s insurgency. Instead of poking a stick at it, I believe all well-meaning Nigerians should instead rally round it, as a body and an idea, to make sure it succeeds, as when it does, Nigeria as a whole will be the celebrant. And the best way to do that is to actually make an effort to find out what they have done so far, rather than embarking on blind accusations.” The writer is a truly discerning writer, if I ever saw or read one.
His write-up shows an individual who weighs facts and applies common sense to reasoning. In May, this year, at the Aso Rock Villa, while inaugurating the board, President Muhammadu Buhari said the establishment of the commission was in fulfillment of the pledge of his administration and part of the strategy to rebuild the North East, and he also added that the establishment was also in appreciation of the massive electoral support from the zone.
For the successful take-off of the commission, the president said N10billion was provided in this year’s budget, even as he urged the board to use the fund judiciously. Now, if someone as upright and with such sterling qualities as the president can entrust the NEDC with such an onerous task, then how can it not put in its best? That, by the grace of God, is just what the NEDC will do.
Therefore, I will close my article with but one request: That Nigerians rally round and support the NEDC, because if they succeed, then we collectively succeed as a nation.