Without doubt, the Federal Government has shown unwavering commitment to contain the Boko Haram insurgency which has brought untoward decimation to lives and property in the North-East.
Available statistics indicate that over the last decade, more than 20,000 persons had been killed, nine billion dollars worth of infrastructure destroyed, while no fewer than two million Nigerians had been displaced from their homes and communities.
The efforts aimed at tackling the Boko Haram menace, no doubt, had been in collaboration with foreign and contiguous countries as well as development partners.
However, what observers describe as one of the most integrated intervention is an African Development Bank (AfDB) Initiative, inaugurated recently.
Speaking at the launch of the AfDB-funded Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Programme of North East-Nigeria, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi, Osinbajo, espoused the Buhari Plan, a grand design for North Reconstruction.
Osinbajo said that in 2018 alone, Nigerian Army’s Operation Last Hold, had helped 35,000 people to voluntarily return to their homes and communities, and commence the task of rebuilding lives and livelihoods.
`The President and Commander-in-Chief is determined to decisively address the recent escalation in terrorist activities. Already the Chiefs of Army and Air Staff are relocating to the North-East, to oversee a scaling-up of our efforts to end the insurgency completely.
“This, as you all know, has always been the president’s promise – to defeat Boko Haram and end the insurgency, and to rebuild and restore the North-East. But there remain significant challenges especially to lives and livelihoods in the North-East, which is why we are here.
“Right from its inception, our administration has demonstrated commitment to rebuilding the North- East.
“In 2016, we unveiled the Buhari Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for the recovery and reconstruction of the region.
“The plan established the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI) to coordinate all efforts by state and non-state actors, to comprehensively address the economic, social and humanitarian crises in the region.
“At the core of our efforts is the conviction that humanitarian interventions are not by themselves enough to bring about a radical transformation of the circumstances of the North-East region.’’
The vice president, said that the Federal Government believed in an approach that combined both humanitarian and developmental interventions, which meant combining short-term remedies targeted at vulnerable populations with solutions that looked well ahead into the future and address medium and long term challenges.
According to the vice president, the ideal approach is the one that addresses today’s issues, while simultaneously anticipating and devising solutions for tomorrow’s issues; such an approach not only wins the war but secures the peace as well.
He said that in practical terms, it meant taking steps to reinvigorate social services such as the provision of health care and education, the restoration of civil authority in liberated areas, and the promotion of livelihoods and human security.
“And this is where the Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Project (IBSIP), comes in.
“As more people return to their homes, the provision of essential services and job creation in safe locations will play a great role in ensuring that these returnees can get the basic tools and skills that they need to begin to rebuild their lives.
“The IBSIP, which will be implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the African Development Bank (AfDB), is therefore an intervention focused on investing in infrastructural restoration, the reactivation of social services and the rejuvenation of livelihoods alongside the culture of enterprise which are necessary for sustainable post-conflict communities.
“Our goal is to achieve, through this project, transformative improvements in water, security, sanitation, food security, hygiene, nutrition, the provision of primary health care, basic education, access to markets, entrepreneurship and job creation.’’
He said that the Buhari Plan identified key areas of critical impact which guided the design of intervention programmes in the North-East.
Osinbajo said he was excited to note that the AfDB had, in the design and implementation of the IBSIP, keyed into the Buhari Plan, and was funding projects that would benefit an estimated 14 million affected people, including over 2.3 million Internally Displaced Persons.
He said that in line with the Federal Government’s focus on the vulnerable, 80 per cent of the targeted beneficiaries were women, children and youth.
The vice president said that the government was also paying special attention to rural households in the local government areas affected by the insurgency.
“It has been gratifying to note how enthusiastically our friends and partners have rallied to our support, mobilising resources to tackle the crisis in the North-East.
“The AfDB is investing roughly 258 million dollars in the effort to activate critical impact areas of recovery in the North-East identified in the Buhari Plan,’’ he said.
On his part, Akinwumi Adesina, President, AfDB, said that the programme was developed in response to the Federal Government’s plans for the North-East.
Represented by Ebrima FAAL, Senior Director, Nigeria Country Department, Abuja , said that the programme was a good example of effective partnership between the Government of Nigeria and the development partners.
He said the programme would be fruitful as it had strong and dedicated teams to drive it to a successful conclusion.
Adesina said that the bank remained a strong partner of the federal and state governments in their efforts to restore livelihoods in the North-East.
“ For instance, throughout the period of heightened conflict in the region with two performing programmes in Yobe and Taraba states.
“The experience gained and lessons learnt from implementing these two projects are incorporated in the design of the current intervention.
“The Inclusive Basic Social Service Delivery and Livelihood Programme seek to curb fragility aggravated by the insurgency in the North-East.
“The programme is fully aligned with four of the five priority areas of the Bank known as the Bank’s High fives — Light and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life of Africans.’’
According to him, the programme addresses the improvement of quality of life of the population of the North-East Nigeria through the restoration of basic services.
He said that the programme ensured equity by providing access to basic services for all.
The AfDB boss said that the programme also incorporated special gender considerations by ensuring that women were active participants in all stages of the project and providing training for women and youth entrepreneurs to increase their chances for employment and business opportunities.
He said that in addition, the programme would address rural electrification as it included integrated energy systems for pumping of water; lighting for institutions and community centres; providing for cold chains in health units, among others.
“An estimated population of 14 million affected people including about 2.3 million IDPs (of which 53 per cent are women, and 57 per cent are children) are expected to directly benefit from the basic service delivery interventions in health and nutrition, education, water and sanitation.
“Over 9,000 IDPs and heads of vulnerable households will receive direct assistance for their economic reintegration and livelihoods.
“Over 2,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (79 per cent women) will be reached to develop and enhance their businesses; 2,900 construction artisans and mechanics working in the informal sector will be supported to enhance quality and productivity and 2,000 unskilled youth will be trained in economic skills for employment and job creation.
“The challenge now is on the implementing agencies to deliver the basic services necessary for quick recovery of the North-East.
“I can assure you that the Bank in close collaboration with the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the UN System and other development partners is well prepared to support the implementation of the project,’’ he said.
He said that the Bank had been building the capacity of the implementation teams of the five states over the last two months.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Tijjani Tumsah, Vice Chairman, Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative, said that the programme aside physical infrastructure, human capacity would also be boosted.
Sharing similar sentiments, Gov. Mohammed Abubarkar of Bauchi State, expressed appreciation to Buhari’s led-administration for coming up with the Buhari Plan.
Abubakar commended the AfDB initiative, and expressed optimism that it would tackle most of the daunting challenges confronting the North-East.
The governor pledged his commitment toward ensuring the successful implementation of the programme.
Observers say that restoration of security in the North-East is a sine qua non for any meaningful reconstruction; hence the need for stability to herald the planned rehabilitation of the region.