NEDC: Promise Made And Delivered, Says Dogara
Posted On Oct 30, 2017
On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Bill for an Act that established the North East Development Commission into law.
This is coming more than two years after the idea of establishing the commission was mooted and developed into a Bill by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
The Speaker had, while receiving members of Yobe State caucus in the House of Representatives who paid him a solidarity visit just fews days after his historic election in June 2015, told his colleagues that urgent steps must be taken to begin the work of rebuilding the North East region which has suffered unprecedented level of devastation occasioned by years of violent insurgency. This, he added, may take the form of a commission similar to that of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
It has always been his belief that ad hoc measures by the government such as administrative policies lack the strength to stand the test of time, a quality needed to yield the desired result of rebuilding the ruins of the region, as well as the probability of cancelling such interventions at will.
Similarly, he pointed out that there are many organisations and well spirited individuals from across the world who are ready and willing to donate funds to rebuild the North East but are very cautious and wary of how the monies will be utilised in the absence of an established institution by the government.
To match words with action, in August 2015, he sponsored a motion on the urgent need for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, rebuilding and resettlement of the North East, in addition to his constant advocacy for the convocation of an international donor conference for the region as done for Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and lately, Syria.
As expected and rightly so, questions were raised on whether this proposed commission will not go the way of the NDDC, with regards to misappropriation of funds and alleged failure to deliver on their mandate, but Hon Dogara appealed to his colleagues and Senators alike and assured them that they will learn from and avoid the problems of the NDDC.
It is worth noting here that the commission has the mandate to receive and manage funds allocated by the Federal Government and international donor agencies for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency.
This body would also help in tackling the menace of poverty and environmental challenges in the North East and would among other things coordinate projects and programmes within the master plan for the rehabilitation, resettlement, reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainable development of the North East Zone.
This will be done in the field of infrastructure, human and social services, including health and nutrition, education and water supply, agriculture, wealth creation and employment opportunities, urban and rural development and poverty alleviation.
As provided in the Act, the commission will also liaise with federal ministries, departments, agencies, states and development partners on implementation of all measures approved in the master plan for stabilisation and development of the North East by the Federal Government.
It will equally assess and report on any project being funded or carried out in the North-East by any federal ministry, department and agency or company that has an agreement with the Federal Government, and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilised.
The NEDC will equally liaise with other stakeholders on tackling of humanitarian, ecological and environmental problems and degradation that arise from natural causes, insurgency and industrial activities in the North-East Zone. This is in addition to seeking humanitarian, human, material, technical and financial support from development partners, local or international, and non-governmental organisations, with a view to developing the North East region.
One other key role of the commission is to act as the focal point to coordinate and harmonise all other interventions programmes and initiatives that the federal government is involved with in the North East.
The Speaker had on Thursday October 26, 2017, just a day after the bill was signed into law by the president, while in the company of the visiting Shehu of Bama, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Shehu Kyari Umar Ibn Ibrahim El-Kanemi, who led a delegation of elders from the emirate on “thank you” visit to him, cautioned against mismanagement of the NEDC and abuse of the trust given to them by Nigerians who supported its establishment through their lawmakers in the National Assembly.
He contended that in the midst of doubts, North Easterners should be given the chance to prove themselves; the freedom and opportunity to rebuild their region against the perceived failure of others.
I must admit that for a long time, I have not seen the Speaker in such a happy mood as when he received communication from the President informing him that the bill has been assented to.
Within few minutes of receiving the good news, he extended his gratitude to the President and added that the expeditious coming into force of the commission will remedy the long years of underdevelopment suffered by the region, though the recovery and redevelopment of the zone devastated by terrorism is expected to last decades.
According to the Speaker Dogara, “As true leaders and representatives of the zone, our true focus has been what we can do in order to ensure that we build on the successes that this government is recording in its fight against terrorism and ultimately to ensure that we do not have a relapse in that zone with this kind of situation we have found ourselves. The region is behind in all human development indices and businesses, factories, schools have been destroyed. I think as we speak, perhaps the only productive enterprise that we have in the north east is Ashaka Cement.”
Worth commending here is the role played by the wife of the president, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, who in May 2016, led a delegation of wives of governors from the region to attend the public hearing and even made submissions to the committee in support of the efforts of the Speaker.
There is no family in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa that did not lose at least one relation to the seven years of intense violence and killings. People who were hitherto very wealthy became paupers in just a matter of hours following the destruction of their properties by the insurgents. It is estimated that about 200,000 people were killed since the beginning of the violence while properties worth over $20 billion have been destroyed including schools, hospitals, markets, farmlands, churches and mosque alike.
Today, the story has changed as most of them have gone back and more are hoping to return home soon. Thanks to the effort of the security agencies under President Buhari.
By appending his signature on that beautiful and unprecedented piece of legislation, President Buhari has touched the hearts of all North Easterners. He has soothed where it pained them most, further strengthening the bond between them and him, and by that singular act, he has written his name in their hearts, in the hearts of their children and of generations yet unborn. He has further tightened the umbilical cord that connects him with the region and its people who have always looked up to him for leadership.
All North easterners have now signed a promissory note to further support, and consolidated their bounds with the President; and are now eternally indebted to Buhari whose leadership, commitment and determination to end the violent years of insurgency in the region have never been in doubt.
The responsibility now rests with the people to ensure that they don’t abuse or misuse this trust the President and all Nigerians have given as cautioned by the Speaker just as it also behooves on the President to ensure that he appoints only persons of proven integrity to lead the NEDC and pioneer the work of rebuilding the region.