Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Chairman of the North East Development Commission (NEDC), Major General Paul Tarfa (retd), has said that despite the billions of dollars spent annually in northeast Nigeria, there is no significant change in the lives of the suffering population of the region.
Tarfa gave the damning verdict Tuesday at a one-day roundtable to review the northeast peace building initiative.
Represented by Chief David Sabo Kente, a Federal Commissioner Representing Northeast in the NEDC, Tarfa pointed to systemic and institutional failings.
Tarfa noted that up till the present moment, if not well managed with the right political will devoid of vested interest, the northeast crisis still poses the most potent existential threat to the country.
He recalled that the conflict in the northeast 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 has had a devastating impact on food security and nutrition in the northeast, with millions of people in need of emergency food aid.
Tarfa took 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 sectors to complement and support the efforts of the government in stabilising the northeast, amongst others.
“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. The recovery programme consists of six projects and focuses on basic education and health services, agricultural production, and livelihood improvement opportunities. It draws from the Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) carried out by the World Bank Group, the United Nations and the European Union.
“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.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, 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 shows that billions of dollars is being spent annually without any significant change in the lives of the suffering population of the northeast. It is however instructive to say that ‘something systemic and institutional is definitely wrong,’” Tarfa said.
Tarfa further added that if development stakeholders honestly wanted to save lives, stabilize the situation, and rebuild lives and communities for the future, then they must courageously interrogate their conscience, re-examine their character and evaluate the integrity of their intentions.
“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, Tarfa said up to three million people were estimated to suffer from critical food insecurity in the northeast, with almost a million children ages six months to five years acutely malnourished, and 440,000 facing severe malnutrition.
He also recalled the Borno State Government’s submission that the state warehouses 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), Professor 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 northeast have caused many security challenges, hence the need to engage multilateral peacebuilding efforts to combat radicalization and ethno-religious strife in order to help the NEDC achieve its objectives.