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Rebuilding the North-East


Image source pointblanknews

Image source pointblanknews

IT is heartening that action on rebuilding the devastated North-East region of Nigeria, long at the mercy of an insurgency that has claimed more than 20,000 lives and left over one million people displaced from homes, is being intensified. Certainly, the traumatized citizens, especially women and children in that area, need the succour urgently.

It is equally gratifying that the World Bank is already playing a significant role in alleviating the humanitarian tragedy by unfolding a $2.1 billion loan package to rehabilitate infrastructure and help the people who have been ravaged in the theatre of war for upward of six years.

Of course, it is very painful that within two months of a new era, the fundamentalists have intensified their heinous crime of exterminating hundreds of innocent people through suicide bombings. Indeed, about 700 persons have been killed since May 29 when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office. However, with a measure of respite currently coming to the affected areas, save for the sect’s recent suicidal missions, an implementation of the proposed package in the most rational way and devoid of the usual bureaucratic bottlenecks must be made expedient.

The Buhari administration’s strategies to fully contain the insurgency have been well set in motion. And the chance and hope of rehabilitation are real. This is the least the country can do for her own citizens who have every right to protection and a secured environment.

According to reports, the World Bank package is the outcome of a meeting President Buhari had with representatives of the bank in Washington DC as part of activities marking his visit to the United States, the other week. Buhari reportedly urged the Bank to send a team that could work in concert with the government’s team here for a proper assessment of needs. This is very good, coming from a government that is offering openness in service.

Reassuringly, the rehabilitation plan would give priority to resettlement of the internally displaced persons apart from rebuilding the infrastructure in the affected region. The money which would be utilised through the International Development Agency offers low interest rate loans to governments and will be interest-free in the first 10 years, while the additional years will attract “lower than the capital market rate”.

There is no denying the fact that similar funds in the past had been pillaged by corrupt officials while programme implementation almost always recorded poor rating. Nigeria has, therefore, been at the disadvantage on two fronts – repaying loans and facing prospects of poorly implemented programmes. At a time like this when the Buhari government has transparency as a cardinal principle, it is expected that this loan would be judiciously expended. Nigerians and the international community would be on the watch. The proposed loan package will practically be the first test case for the government on funds management.

On implementation, support from other groups and agencies like the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and even private sector organisations might be required to assist the regular agencies of government that are normally deployed for such tasks.

The government has done well to identify major areas of need in the rebuilding effort, including infrastructural renewal, human capital development and rehabilitation. But other areas worth considering in addition to special attention to education are massive food supply, social services and recreation. The launch of a sustainable culture of agriculture to support ownership of the land, thus restoring confidence in the people, is also worthy of consideration.

Moreover, it would be necessary to, in the absence of an existing reliable or trustworthy structure, create a new platform to manage funds if the collaboration being envisaged does not work out. Even if it works out, government must exercise caution in relating with the appointed agents of the World Bank who often come in large numbers under the guise of consultants to dictate terms to loan beneficiary countries and thereby consume much of the money through over-heads.

In fact, there may be need to outsource some aspects of the programme while bureaucracy should be reduced for efficiency. Boko Haram remains unrelenting in its despicable acts and the war should be prevented from growing in intensity. This, therefore, calls for a careful framework or action plan to avoid wastage of resources. What should really obtain now is a last-ditch push on all options open to government to end the atrocities before fully committing the loans. As the rehabilitation commences, there must be a progress tracking process to be enforced by a monitoring team. No effort or resource is too much to restore peace and ensure the economic and social emancipation of the battered region. Indeed, the greatest service to Nigeria would be the total extermination of the Boko Haram insurgents, an uprooting of the warped ideas fueling the insurgency and complete liberation as well as re-integration of the people in the North-East.

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  • Okariauke

    How I wish someone tried to rebuild the South East after the Nigeria pogrom against Biafra.

    • Babalakin

      Stop talking out of points. Please go and read about the reconstruction efforts in the East after the Nigerian Civil war and stop mixing up issues here.

      • Okariauke

        Dear Babalakin, I do not know if there was any reconstruction in the south East after the Nigerian pogrom against the South East and I don’t know where to read about the “reconstruction efforts in the south East” could you send me copies or refer me to where I can read them.

  • Babalakin

    And until all the primary and secondary school education is strictly enforced, there will be no progress there and the region will keep been a breeding ground for child suicide

  • 10101010101010

    Until people are willing to recognize Boko Haram as a symptom of a greater issue in that region and not the actual problem then any money thrown at the people there will be in vain.

  • OkwuBndu

    It will be a good idea to start rebuilding the north east, but are the authorities considering a situation where by as they are rebuilding, the diehard boko haramists may continue blowing up even what may have been rebuilt because they don’t believe in the present Nigerian set up except their demands are met and which is the total islamization of the north east under the rule of total sharia law??? Wouldn’t it be better to frontally face and deal with their ideology of total islamization through their use of the force of arms??? These are diehards who believe in suicide, in other words, their lives nor anyone else does not mean anything to them. Therefore, rebuilding while these elements are still around makes no sustainable sense.