Imperatives of the North East Development Commission

Though this initiative seemed to take too long to come, it finally did, and with lots of appreciation. President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, inaugurated the governing board of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to principally rebuild the Boko Haram devastated region.

Among the main functions of the commission is to shift focus from humanitarian assistance as soon as possible in all relevant areas to developmental and infrastructural projects such as reconstruction of road, houses and business premises destroyed by Boko Haram.

To show seriousness he attaches to the rebuilding project, the president appointed retired Major-General Paul Tarfa as the chairman of the commission. The appointment of Tarfa, no doubt, is instructive and goes along with the specific importance the president attaches to rebuilding the once peaceful, prosperous North-east region.

Tarfa, like the president, is a disciplinarian, orderly, honest and resents corruption in all its ramifications. In fact, it was the president who in the 80s as Head of State appointed Tarfa as commandant to restructure the famous Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and ensure discipline and professionalism were maintained.

Speaking during the inauguration, the president said the commission was established to fast track the development of the region badly damaged as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. He said the establishment of the commission was also in appreciation of the massive electoral support he got from the zone in the 2015 and 2019 general elections.

The president directed the governing board of the commission to take over the activities and structures of all federal government funded agencies working in the region, saying he expects it to “institute a strong mechanism for effective and efficient coordination of all the stakeholder (local and International) activities, starting by taking over of all federally-funded activities, projects and programmes as well as the structures and logistics assets that the organizations utilise.”

Some of the organisations expected to be taken over by the commission are the Presidential Committee on the North-east Initiative (PCNI) and Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), among others.

The president said N10 billion was provided in the 2019 budget by the federal government for the successful take-off of the commission.

Though he needed not to, the president stressed the need for members of the commission to make judicious use of the take-off funds, and conduct a comprehensive survey to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the insurgents in the states in the region.

And who is best to carry this assignment than Tarfa? Still, this assignment is not about a personality but rebuilding an area and its people whose psyche and personalities were badly bruised and battered by the Boko Haram insurgents.

Of course, attempts were made in the past to rehabilitate the North-east. But just the attempts were made, so were cases of corruption designed to render the attempts futile uncovered.

Clearly, it was in realisation of the corrupt associated with the North-east rehabilitation initiatives that the president urged members of the commission to ensure judicious use of resources earmarked to lift the people of the region out of their current terrible situation. 

And they must because the people of the North-east, for too long and for no fault of theirs, were forced to bear the brunt of the activities of the insurgents and, in the process, have their loved ones killed, maimed, their property vandalised and, in most cases, had their means of livelihood destroyed.

Their situation, no doubt, calls for special attention from the government and, luckily, the now got it. Agreed, it came late. But it’s better than never.

On the president’s responsibilities…

In four years now and for the umpteenth time, President Muhammadu Buhari said he would not let Nigerians down. The president said that, as a leader, he’ll provide effective and result-oriented leadership strong enough to safeguard, and provide, good life for citizens. Tellingly, the president said: “I’m conscious of the weight of responsibility on my shoulders.”

Speaking after attending the daily Tafsir (Qur’anic interpretations) marking the month of Ramadhan fast at the State House Mosque in Abuja, the president said the reality of his office weighs heavily on his mind at all times, and he will keep working to deliver an improved life to Nigerians.

The president said he will not fail the people who he expressed his gratitude to them for giving him the opportunity to serve for second term in office. And, he adds, the expectations of Nigerians from his government will be met. “The expectations of Nigerians will be met. I will not let them down. I will continue to do my best,” he said. Of course, Nigerians also pray that his best would see them through his second term period in office. In the meantime, things, as far as security of life and property are concerned are bad and hardly is there a sign that they’ll soon be better.

Still, it’s gratifying to know that the president considers his responsibility to Nigerians important as he is set to take oath for his second term in office. After all, too many leaders get caught up in thinking about power, rather than their responsibility to those they lead.

However, it’s one thing for the president to know his responsibilities to us, the led, and it’s another for us to know our responsibility to him. Yet, along with getting the most out of Nigerians, especially their cooperation to his administration, the president should get the led focused and on the same page with him on the goals and where he wishes to take the country in the next four years.

The president has to push his people in the right direction because by doing so, he brings discipline and understanding, strong and committed followership for his administration and country. This is so in view of the fact that leaders need to explain their vision, with specifics, rather than with press statement.

The president needs to quickly end the season of insecurity plaguing the country. Agreed, the administration has tried in many areas, especially agriculture and infrastructure, but, like the emir of Katsina said recently, Nigerians need security to go to farm and use the infrastructure put in place for their comfort.

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