North eastern Nigeria is one of the most impoverish region in the world, with Boko Haram on the rampage, between 2009 and 2015, attacks in the region has destroyed more than 910 schools and forced at least 1,500 to close. By early 2016, close to 1 million school-age children had fled the violence, the war has created a humanitarian crisis with the number of displaced persons in the region is now well above two million.
In order to cushion the gap of human development, in 2017 the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) established the North East Development Commission (NEDC), saddled with the responsibility to coordinate resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of infrastructure for victims and terrorism as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy and ecological challenges associated with the region.
The commission in it uniquely objective has a focal coordination organization charged with the sole responsibility of coordinating the commission programme in the six (6) states of the region. On assumption to office, the Executive Governor of Yobe State and Chairman Extraordinary Convention Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) swing into action and nominated a seasoned academician and experienced expert in the Non-governmental field Dr. Ali Ibrahim Abbas to serve as Yobe State Focal Person/Coordinator of the NEDC.
Having coming on board with a lot of confidence repose on Dr. Abbas, and knowing the challenges associated with his office with Yobe state low level of education infrastructure has been exacerbated by the Boko Haram insurgency. The scale of destruction wrought by the insurgency on education in the region between 2009 and 2015 is to put it mildly, mind boggling. No level of the education system, from tertiary to primary schools, was spared. Statistics of materials and human losses have been terrifying, with death of students and teachers on the one hand, and the destruction of buildings, furniture, and equipments on the other and this is a state that was previously thought to champion the cause of more prosperous society.
In the conflict-affected areas of Yobe state, given Boko Haram’s targeting of the education system, demand-side constraints have become particularly severe. On the supply side, school facilities can be distant, classrooms overcrowded and ill-equipped, and in the conflict-affected Gujba, Gulani, Gaidam and other rural areas, schools may be completely destroyed or in dire needs of repairs.
What follows is a summary of the achievement of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Rapid Response Intervention (RRI) project in Yobe State during the period under review.
The NEDC effort to cushion the supply-side gap has complemented Hon. Mai Mala Buni education initiative through it RRI school project, with the construction and renovation of new classrooms, offices, stores and supply of furniture across the 17 LGA of the state.
Similarly, with less than 10 years to the UN Sustainable Development Goals timeline there is an imminent challenges in meeting clean water and sanitation in Yobe state, as a result of the massive inadequate water supply in rural and hard to reach communities, the NEDC has repair and convert over 28 boreholes to solar hybrid and subsequent drilling and installation of 34 hybrid solar boreholes across Yobe state.
Furthermore, the commission with the help of the Yobe State Government and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has established a reference molecular laboratory in the state of the art Yobe State University Teaching Hospital (YSUTH), the lab is now an avenue for test of COVID-19, Lassa and Yellow fever and other diseases and outbreaks.
Climate change has become a great challenge to our generation and its impact is felt in almost every society in the world. Yobe state with a population of about 3 million is adversely impacted by climate change due to its vulnerability and low coping capability. The Yobe’s climate has been changing, evident in increases in temperature, variable rainfall, rise in flooding, drought and desertification, and land degradation. The commission through it Environmental Protection Program has established and renovated 3 nurseries with solar boreholes and nursery equipment in 3 LGAs of the state and compliment the state government effort of green project with the sole aim of planting 3 million seedlings across the state.
The agricultural sector in Yobe state has also enjoyed the commissions intervention, the Agriculture Support Scheme of NEDC has targeted over 1500 dry season farmers in the state.
Humanitarian intervention is the central plank for the establishment of the North East Development Commission (NEDC), the commission since its inception has reached over 6000 households across the 17 LGAs of Yobe state, not to mention of it rapid response to the people of Gaidam town during the recent Boko Haram attack.
The North East Development Commission (NEDC) has recorded historic achievement in the last two years thanks to President Buhari’s quick intervention towards the establishment of the commission, the support rendered by the commission in Yobe State through the leadership of Dr. Ali Ibrahim Abbas is commendable and we hope a sustainability plan has to be in place for the sustenance of the RRI project in Yobe.
Samaila is AU-EU Task Force Member at ONE Campaign. He writes from Damaturu, Yobe state via 07031218350.