#NorthEastDoesMatter: The Buhari Administration Embarks on a Mission to Restore
As part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians in the North-East whose lives have been deeply affected by the raging insurgency, the President Buhari-led Federal Government, through the Office of the Vice-President, has embarked on a mission to improve living conditions, with a special focus on implementing programmes which would be of immense benefit to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS).
There is also the Presidential Initiative for the North-East (PINE), an intervention plan which is charged with the mandate of providing emergency assistance and mobilizing resources to revive the economy of the North-East. PINE is a coordinated plan implemented by federal and state governments, with support from global development partners, international and local business organisations and other stakeholders.
As part of its objectives, PINE aims to provide a framework of guidance for intervention by government and non-governmental partners, encourage local, state, national and global support for the North-East, meet basic needs and provide services while restoring livelihoods, and develop new creative and impactful programmes for the region. One of such programmes is one which entails the provision of special mobile classrooms (SMOCs) in IDP camps, and was launched by the Vice President, Prof. yemi Osinbajo, in September, 2015. Education in the North-East has taken a serious blow with the incessant attacks on schools and students, and there really could be no better way to arrest the many unsavory effects of lack of education than by bringing fully equipped classrooms to children in IDP camps.
In October, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, was in Maiduguri, Borno state, for a stakeholders’ engagement. The meeting was attended by representatives of local and international NGOs, officials of Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs), the United Nations (UN) system, security agencies, and Internally Displaced Persons from selected camps in the North-East region, among others.
NEMA, especially, had faced a lot of criticism regarding the welfare of IDPs and one of the major aims of this meeting was to modify the existing framework in order to make the agency more effective. Other aims achieved include establishing guidelines which would help streamline the activities of local and international humanitarian actors, so as to avoid duplication of efforts and the attendant waste of resources and time.
Some of the recommendations reached at this meeting include the need for NEMA to strengthen existing disaster management architecture through the integration of NGOs, capacity building for State Emergency Management Agencies, the need to include NGOs, CSOs and independent media in the communication framework for communication of emergencies, and establishing regulations for Monitoring and Evaluation, Accountability, Transparency and Beneficiaries Impact Assessment. Other recommendations include the need for the National Planning Commission (NPC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NEMA to ensure effective management of entry and exit of all humanitarian actors in the country, the definition of rules of engagement for the management of humanitarian actors (via legislation by the National Assembly if necessary), and the need to encourage private sector participation in humanitarian activities by NEMA in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President. The meeting also recommended that a monument should be set up for humanitarian actors who lost their lives in active service.
With these steps taken so far, coupled with the offensive being leveled against insurgents by the Nigerian Army, it does look like there may be a good reason for Nigerians to hope for an end to the crisis and a restoration of the economy of the North-East. The Vice-President has been very concerned with the state of the North-East, as his many visits to the region and Internally Displaced Persons since he assumed office prove. It is also worthy of note that the last engagement took place without any sort of restriction on the movements of the people of Borno state. Previous visits had required restriction but this was not the case the last time, in a laudable effort to demonstrate this new government’s responsiveness to the people’s comments and observations.