Monday, 25 April 2016

Global aid for the North East

Written by the Editorial board of The Guardian

That succour is coming to Nigeria’s North East which has endured seven years of mindless destruction of lives and property by the Boko Haram terror group, is good news to the local and international communities. Rebuilding of lives and infrastructure in the area, especially in the worst hit states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, should, indeed, be priority not only for the international donor agencies and communities, but also the Nigerian government and people.

In the light of this, the World Bank’s $800 million offer of support through the United Nations to stem the humanitarian crisis and to address the root causes of poverty and exclusion is laudable. The support is the group’s response to recovery, rehabilitation, demining, waste management and debris processing for the region, according to reports.

In spite of competing interests arising from global humanitarian crises, especially in Europe, the support from the EU and some individual countries in whatever form is also acknowledged. For instance, the United Kingdom has just pledged support worth 32 million pounds sterling for the country over the next three years, to help deliver humanitarian assistance and protection to over seven million victims of the insurgency. The funds are also planned to be channeled through the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other humanitarian organisations for “critical life-saving assistance” besides a further pledge of technical support to the government in the “enormous and growing” humanitarian needs.

Implementation of the envisaged response from those quarters would definitely require security conditions in place to allow the victims return home from various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. It is re-assuring that the security forces are working to ensure this.  The Nigerian Army and the Air Force have rightly earned commendation for their performance, considering the unconventional nature of the war and other militating factors. The fighting forces must be continually encouraged morally and with adequate equipment. Essentially, what these times call for are the rebuilding of confidence in the people and strengthening of government’s hands for the right interventions.

It is in the interest of humanity for the donor communities to rally round Nigeria against Boko Haram for massive is the level of destruction the terrorists have brought on human lives and infrastructure. On this score, the World Bank through its financial commitment and the UN have done well to identify with the people, but the interventions have to be more far-reaching for effect.

At the last assessment and validation by multilateral institutions, at least one trillion naira is needed for immediate or short-term stabilisation and recovery of the region having suffered damage of not less than nine billion dollars ($9 billion). It is alright that international development partners and donors have reiterated their commitments towards ensuring that key findings of the assessments are implemented just as global partners have pledged to up the stakes in institutional frameworks on the rebuilding effort.

It is equally heart-warming that the affected states are being carried along in the rebuilding plans, much against the usual top-to-bottom approach to issues of development in Nigeria. From all indications, a successful plan would require prioritising the needed interventions and producing an action plan. Borno State has even gone a step forward as it organised the first yearly ‘Dialogue on Rebuilding Borno with the theme Peace in Borno: Thought Leadership Laboratory’ in Abuja a few days ago. This is commendable as it shows good leadership at that level and a serious state government striving to ameliorate the harrowing experience of its people.

The government is said to have identified major areas of need in the rebuilding effort including infrastructural renewal, human capital development and rehabilitation. However, stakeholders have also drawn attention to education, massive food supply, social services and recreation as well as a sustainable culture of agriculture to support ownership of the land.

There may also be need to create a new platform to manage the funds if existing structures are found deficient. In the past, similar programme implementation had attracted poor rating due to mismanagement and corruption. The current plan must, however, succeed. Bureaucracy must be reduced while monitoring should be elevated.

The North-East is desperately in need of compassion and a restoration of the faith of the people in their country.

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