An Avid Plea To President Elect – Muhammadu Buhari: The NEED For North-East Development Bureau – NEDB By Murtala Adogi Mohammed
North-Eastern State is a former administrative division of Nigeria. It was created on 27 May 1967 from parts of the Northern Region. Its capital was the city of Maiduguri. On 3 February 1976, the state was divided into Bauchi, Borno and Gongola states. Gombe State was later split out of Bauchi, Yobe State from Borno and Gongola was split into Taraba State and Adamawa State.The northeastern part of Nigeria comprises of six states they are (Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno).
Since late 2009, uprising has crippled the economic, social and educational activities in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria. The insurgents ’s strategy includes taking advantage of poverty, power grievances, and a widespread sense of hopelessness and marginalization among the population.
The intent of this essay is to provide the appropriate type of information—at the appropriate level of granularity—in order to inform the in-coming administration of General Muhammadu Buhari to develop a quick-win, huge impact, more effective approaches towards reconstruction and transformation of north-east region through well coordinated system-interconnected with the affected state government that would help in addressing political, economic, social, and security factors affecting targeted development in the northeast Nigeria
Chinua Achebe in his book ‘There was a country’ he dedicated a whole chapter title ‘The failure States and Raise Of Terrorism’ he clearly opined that one of the drivers of the current security challenges in northern Nigeria is as result of the failure of state to deliver effective and efficient services to the people.
Economic disparities between the north and the rest of the country are stark. Seventy-two percent of northerners live in poverty, compared to 27 percent of southerners and 35 percent in the Niger Delta…see Patricio Asfura-Heim and Julia McQuaid report, ‘Diagnosing the Boko Haram Conflict’
Observers agree that many of Nigeria’s problems are a result of corruption and poor policy decisions made by government leaders. According to one analyst, the insurgency in the northern Nigeria is a “symptom of decades of failed government and elite delinquency finally ripening into social chaos.” The most common grievance among the general population is endemic corruption among political and economic elites
The northeastern zone—the area where the insurgents maintains influence—has the highest poverty rate of any of the six ethno-regional geopolitical zones. In addition, the government in the northeast has been unable or unwilling to provide sufficient security, roads, water, health care, or education, or reliable power.
In a report recently published by Patricio Asfura-Heim and Julia McQuaid titled Diagnosing the Boko Haram Conflict: Grievances, Motivations, and Institutional Resilience in Northeast Nigeria, they conclude that “The poverty and lack of services affecting the northern Muslim population have caused an intense resentment of the political status quo and have fueled rejectionist thinking”
Nigeria is a country with series of regional variations in terms all development indicators. Foreign investment, economic growth and business opportunities are mostly concentrated in the south. In the northeast region there is a different scenario. According MDG report 2013, Almost 76.3 percent of the population of north-east lives in poverty. The MDG report added that poverty is more widespread and deeper in the northern parts of the country. The predisposing factors of widespread poverty in the northern region have included the collapse of key industries like textiles, low female participation in the labour force, weak education and other infrastructure, and increased insecurity especially since 2009 when the insurgency broke out.
Youth unemployment has remained one of Nigeria’s most challenging socioeconomic burdens. The poverty situation is underpinned by the high regional unemployment rate in the north-eastern Nigeria. In the same North Eastern Nigeria, more that 42 per cent of children are stunted by malnutrition. According to UNICEF data, in Borno state, 72 per cent of primary age children have never attended school.
The instability has had an effect on agricultural products from the north and has severely reduced cross-border trade with Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Agriculture accounts for roughly a fifth of the nation’s GDP and employs more than 35 per cent of young men aged 18 to 35. Said a report by the Brookings Institution in July 2014.
The security crisis has paralyzed the education system in northeast Nigeria to some extent. It will compromise regional development and stability in the mid and long term, since investment and business opportunities tend to concentrate in stable places with skilled human resources. Many young people are now neither in education or work, caught up in wave of violence.
On way forward, There is urgent need for the incoming President Muhammadu Buhari to create North-East Development Bureau NEDB, the Bureau should be situated within the Presidency – an as a short term measures in addressing the developmental challenges in the region. From 2011 to 2012 when was I working with the British High Commission’s Department for International Development DFID of the United Kingdom, I served as Yobe State Representative – liaising with the Yobe state government on how the state can manage their recourses to achieve results and ensure value for money. During my periodic visit to Yobe, I came to realize that God has blessed the region with cosmic land for agricultural activities.
By its agrarian and landlocked nature, the North-East has competitive advantage in basically three economic activities. Agriculture, Agro-Allied Industries and Extractive based industries. But, sadly, it is difficult to see any coherent and consistent plan for boosting agricultural production in the Northeast region. One of the mandate of the NEDB when establish is to coordinate the development and manage the implementations of both short term and long term North-East Agricultural strategic development plan.
Ahmad Salkida, writes in his article Africa’s vanishing Lake Chad Action needed to counter an “ecological catastrophe”, that: “The impact of the drying lake is causing tensions among communities around Lake Chad. There are repeated conflicts among nationals of different countries over control of the remaining water. Cameroonians and Nigerians in Darak village, for example, constantly fight over the water. Nigerians claim to be the first settlers in the village, while Cameroonians invoke nationalistic sentiments, since the village is within Cameroonian territory. Fishermen also want farmers and herdsmen to cease diverting lake water to their farmlands and livestock.
Also NEDB should be mandated to coordinate the reclamation of Lack Chad. There is a lot at stake in saving Lake Chad. The “Lake Chad basin is home to over 20 million people with the majority dependent on the lake and other wetlands for their fishing, hunting, farming and grazing.
NEDB should Survey the North-East region with special focus on Yobe, Adamawa and Borno in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development. Identify factors inhibiting the development of the region and assist the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the North-Eastern region.
In summary, NEDB should be mandated to formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the North-East region with special focus on Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. NEDB should also Conceptualized, plan and implements, in accordance with set rules and regulations, of projects and programs for sustainable development of the North-east region in the field of education, health, employment, industrialization, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications and youth empowerment
I have a dream, that one day North-East will be region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.
Murtala Adogi Mohammed
Is a PhD Researcher (Doctorate Candidate)
On Rural Poverty, And Management Of Natural Resources Conflicts
University Of Port-Harcourt, Nigeria