Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Chairman of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC), Major General Paul Tarfa (retd), has lamented that despite the billions of dollars spent annually in the North East, there is no significant change in the lives of the suffering population of the region.
Tarfa gave the damning verdict during a one-day roundtable to review the North East peace building initiative yesterday.
Represented by Chief David Sabo Kente, a Federal Commissioner Representing North East in the NEDC, Tarfa said that it was instructive to say that something systemic and institutional was definitely wrong.
He warned that the cris in the region still poses the most potent existential threat to the country, if not well managed with the right political will devoid of vested interest.
The NEDC chairman recalled that the conflict in the zone provoked by Boko Haram resulted in widespread displacement, violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, protection risks and a deepening humanitarian crisis.
Tarfa further said the prolonged humanitarian crisis had a devastating impact on food security and nutrition in the North East, with millions of people in need of emergency food assistance.
While taking note of the series of intervention programmes initiated from the inception of the crisis by the Federal Government, he also took note of the intervention programme initiated by the Organised Private Sector.
“The International community has also supported Nigeria because in the 21st century knowledge based global economy, the insecurity of one nation is a threat to the security of the world.
“In this vein, the World Bank recently approved USD775 million in IDA credit to rebuild the livelihoods of those badly affected by the crisis, address drivers of fragility and bring long term development to a region affected by insecurity.
“This year, the United Nations and partners are appealing for $848 million for 183 projects to be implemented by 69 humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations and international/national NGOs. As of 31 March 2019, 51.3 million (six percent) of the funds have been received.
“Despite this enormous resources spent in the past and present on projects and programmes of both local and international actors, the impact analysis which is reflected in the current troubling statistics show that billions of dollars is being spent annually without any significant change in the lives of the suffering population of the North East. It is, however, instructive to say that ‘something systemic and institutional is definitely wrong,’” Tarfa said.
“We must be fearless in confronting vested interests who are profiteers and merchants of war, chaos and crisis. We must re-calibrate our principles to be consistent with the fundamental values that uphold the dignity of humanity,” Tarfa added.
Earlier, NEDC boss had said up to three million people were estimated to suffer from critical food insecurity in the zone with almost a million children aged from six months to five years were acutely malnourished, with 440,000 facing severe acute malnutrition.
He also recalled the Borno State Government’s submission that the state warehouses have over 40,000 orphans, 57,000 widows and about 500,000 displaced persons in the most deplorable conditions, with United Nation’s estimate of infrastructure loss in the region to the tune of $9 billion.
On his part, the Director-General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Prof. Bakut Tswah Bakut, said the institute decided to host scholars and experts on matters of peace and conflict to share knowledge and experiences on how best to recover and sustain peace in the northeast sub-region.Bakut added that Boko Haram activities in the North East have caused many security challenges, hence the need to engage multilateral peacebuilding efforts to combat radicalization, ethno-religious tendencies to help the NEDC achieve its objectives.