By Solomon Audu
It is no longer news that the Boko Haram crisis in the North-East has devastated the economy of the region, and humanitarian crisis is the order of the day. The North-East region of Nigeria is made up of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba states. These states have been ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009.
In this violent crime against humanity, people in multiples of millions are adversely affected, at least five million are internally displaced persons (IDPs), including over 100,000 Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries. Casualty rates are in the thousands, while those alive have lost their means of livelihood.
Returning normalcy to the region is one of the topmost priorities of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration: how to end the war, effective handling of the humanitarian crisis and implementation of an effective rehabilitation and resettlement programme, as well as the implementation of a solid peace-building, reconciliation and de-radicalization framework, the effective reconstruction of social and physical infrastructure.
These necessitated the establishment of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC). The objective of the NEDC is to lead the reconstruction and development of the region by consolidating and replacing other initiatives such as the Victims Support Fund (VSF), Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), and Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI).
It is, therefore, obvious that the task before the NEDC is massive, owing to the undeniable wanton destruction. Consequently, the load fell on the broad shoulders of Mohammed Alkali.
Before his appointment, Alkali was the executive director, operations, Bank of Industry (BoI). He has a first-class honours degree in Accountancy from Bayero University, Kano. He also holds a master of science degree in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics at the University of London, United Kingdom. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School, Harvard University, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, and the Columbia Business School at the Columbia University. These are indeed very intimidating credentials.
However, the interesting aspect of Alkali is the fact that he has been a silent achiever, delivering on his mandate with a human face and the milk of human kindness. He is a gentleman par excellence, and is working assiduously to ensure that the people of the region forget the sorrow and misfortune that Boko Haran terrorism forced on them.
Alkali is kind to a fault, a caring leader with a heart of gold, and his love for humanity is unquantifiable. He has done so well for his people, lifting the downtrodden through his people-oriented programmes and activities. In all, he has kept low profile as the managing director of the NEDC.
Stating his silent features in the media would not have been necessary but for the activities of some mischief-makers that attempted to drag him in the murky waters of politics by making some wild and unfounded allegations about his stewardship at the NEDC.
This unassuming individual has since his appointment as the managing director of the NEDC done so much that I may wish to mention here. Some of the modest achievements of the NEDC under the leadership of Alkali, which are driven by his love for humanity and kindness, among others are:
The NEDC had been implementing impactful and incremental interventions designed to address most of the immediate challenges bedevilling the North-East states. For instance, the NEDC established a N6 billion Education Endowment Fund to resuscitate the region’s devastated education sector and rebuild the human capital to provide an avenue for the engagement of over 20,000 beneficiaries annually to enable them have access to academic and professional capacity-development opportunities in various fields.
The NEDC is also implementing the rehabilitation of drinking water and sanitation facilities in states in northeastern Nigeria. This project is part of the Multispectral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP), with the support of the World Bank.
The NEDC is also implementing about 1,310 Rapid Response Intervention in Projects in all the 112 local governments of the North-East region. This is in addition to the implementation of an Integrated Agriculture Programme involving the provision of agricultural machinery and equipment, seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals and extension service logistics vehicles to enhance the production capacity of smallholder farmers in the North-East and enable them regain their lost livelihoods.
In my opinion, Alkali understands that every single penny allocated to the agency must be used for the benefit of the people. With him, there is no such thing as contract padding, as everything must go through due process and must be accounted for. This much has been said about him by staffers who are never in short supply of praise for his leadership style.
From host communities to stakeholders, the story is the same. The song is constant on how Mohammed Goni Alkali is leading a revolution in rebuilding efforts in the North-East.
For example, The Nigerian Senate Committee on Special Duties recently commended the North-East Development Commission for its “outstanding performance” in the area of humanitarian intervention.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Special Duties, Sen. Yusuf, gave the commendation when he led a delegation on a three-day oversight function to appraise the commission’s one-year performance in Maiduguri, Borno State.
He said, “The NEDC is a baby of the Federal Government; it is just one year, but it has performed tremendously well in the past year, especially in the area of humanitarian intervention.”
Alkali is also setting the pace in terms of administration, as numerous accounts indicate that the NEDC boss has put in place mechanisms that ensure that the agency’s staffers deliver best results at every given time. In the NEDC, hard work is considered a norm in such a manner that the work atmosphere is always charged due to the level of activities ongoing simultaneously while making sure everything is in the right position. And the results have been glaring as well as impressive.
This piece is intended to challenge other public office holders towards the entrenchment of transparency in their operations using the NEDC model.
Alkali remains my man any day, with his passionate approach in the administration of the NEDC. He might not be that loud as others would want him to be, given his efforts so far. However, one thing you cannot take away from him is the fact that he knows his onions, and he is passionate about achieving results.
His penchant for results would ultimately translate to laying a solid foundation for an agency as critical as the NEDC. He is also conscious that how well the NEDC performs in the future regarding fulfilling its mandate would be determined by his performance as the pioneer managing director.
It is indeed understandable if some individuals and groups attempt to rubbish the leadership strides of the managing director because of either mischief or ignorance.
But whatever be the case, it doesn’t change the fact that the NEDC, under Alkali, has lived up to expectations in ways too numerous to mention.
Alkali is an exceptional breed and one that understands the need to serve humanity in sincerity of heart and purpose, and he has brought this to bear in his service delivery. He is abreast with the mandates of the commission as, first, an interventionist agency and, second, the fact that the people of the North-East have suffered enough of the atrocities of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
His critics are probably sad that, for once, an individual heading such a sensitive interventionist agency would stand on the side of the people and not a select few. No doubt, the NEDC looks like a cash cow, but the man at the helm is not an everyday politician that wouldn’t carry out his mandate effectively.
Truth be told, it was a ‘bad market’ for mischief-makers who wanted to de-market him but only succeeded in marketing him by bringing his tangible achievements into the public space. This is indeed a blessing in disguise, and a reason why Alkali must not lose focus, because the hawks waiting to devour him are innumerable. Alkali must match his words with action in ensuring that the reconstruction of communities in the North-East receives much-needed attention, in fulfillment of the mandate of the NEDC.
Alkali is indeed a patriotic servant and one that is more than committed to the restoration of normalcy in the North-East, in fulfillment of the strategic objective of the current administration in establishing the NEDC. The case of Alkali is indeed a patriotic servant that leads with kindness, love for humanity and a human face.
•Audu is a public affairs
analyst based in Yola