By Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
A coalition of 21 civil society groups in Nigeria, the Public Accounting Watch (PAW), has praised the North East Development Commission (NEDC) for executing numerous strategic projects across the sub-region.
The group led by Dr. Okey Azikiwe said it undertook a one-week independent tour of projects executed by the interventionist agency and discovered how much it has done in the last few years without media hype.
The group which toured the northeast between January 9th and 17th concluded that the Mohammed G. Alkali-led agency has fulfilled its mandate to coordinate “the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of infrastructure for victims of terrorism as well as tackle the menace of poverty, illiteracy, ecological challenges in the North-Eastern states and other related matter”.
Azikiwe said the NEDC has ushered a new era of peace, progress, and prosperity by seemingly providing support and succor to the people.
According to him, the North East Stabilisation and Development Master Plan (NESDMP) is already yielding dividends, reviving economic activities in the zone.
He revealed that numerous projects, programs, and schemes to promote and facilitate the physical and socio-economic development of the sub-region are being implemented on the ground as seen during their inspection tour.
Azikiwe noted that the NEDC has touched on numerous aspects including education, health, housing, and water supply among other infrastructure developments.
With the North East Education Endowment Fund, he said over 20,000 natives have benefited annually from the agency’s drive to resuscitate the region’s “devastated education sector” and rebuild the human capital.
He further revealed that the 18 mega schools across member states are well on track with 16 classrooms, six laboratories, and 480-capacity hostels in every location.
He added that the commission instituted an Education Endowment Fund for building human capital in the region through scholarships, short-term capacity building, improvement of basic education, etc.
The group said it sighted the multi-million edifice constructed at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) that would be used as the Centre for the Study of Violent and Extremism (CSVE).
Azikiwe said that the agency has gone a step further to train and empower young people on ICT, power, digital vehicular inspection as well as vocational skills.
He said that the NEDC has completed thousands of housing projects across the states, including 1,000 units for Internally Displaced Persons in the Ngowom community, Borno State.
In its bid to improve mobility, connect other communities, enhance livelihood and improve security and agricultural productivity, Azikiwe added that the NEDC is constructing countless roads, including the 32km Garkida-Dabna project in Adamawa.
He added that the NEDC has shown its commitment to healthcare with numerous interventions.
“The Borno State specialist hospital, the federal neuropsychiatric hospital, the 7 division military hospital Maimalari Cantonment and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH ), and others are addressing the challenges in the health sector,” he said.
“The agency recently took over from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) the responsibilities of routine food distribution to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in designated camps, host and liberated communities in Borno and Adamawa States.”
According to Azikiwe, this has decoupled the resources deployed by NEMA giving impetus to further deliver relief support to persons in need in the event of sudden onset disasters nationwide including in the North East region.
He said its research showed that nearly 25,000 households of IDPs in Borno alone currently benefit from routine food rations by NEDC.
In terms of water supply, Azikiwe said the NEDC has rehabilitated and upgraded supply in towns affected by insurgency in collaboration with the World Bank-funded Multi-Sectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP).
The coalition, therefore, passed a vote of confidence on the Alkali-led agency, adding that it has effectively tackled the menace of poverty, illiteracy, and ecological challenges in the North-Eastern states.
Azikiwe said even more impressive is the fact that the NEDC has gone about its job with transparency, accountability, and diligence.
He, however, urged other agencies to follow the NEDC example if the nation is to attain the level Nigerians desire.