The Chairman of the North East Development Commission (NEDC), Major General Paul Tarfa (rtd), has said that despite the billions of dollars spent annually in northeast Nigeria, there is no significant change in the lives of the suffering population of the region.
Tarfa gave the damning verdict yesterday at a one-day roundtable to review the northeast peace building initiative.
Represented by Chief David Sabo Kente, a Federal Commissioner Representing Northeast in the NEDC, Tarfa pointed to systemic and institutional failings.
Tarfa noted that up till the present moment, if not well managed with the right political will devoid of vested interest, the northeast crisis still poses the most potent existential threat to the country.
He recalled that the conflict in the northeast provoked by Boko Haram resulted in widespread displacement, violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, protection risks and a deepening humanitarian crisis.
Tarfa further said the prolonged humanitarian crisis has had a devastating impact on food security and nutrition in the northeast, with millions of people in need of emergency food aid.
Tarfa took note of the series of intervention programmes initiated from the inception of the crisis by the Federal Government.
He also took note of the intervention programmes initiated by the organised private sector to complement and support the efforts of the government in stabilising the northeast, amongst others.
“The international community has also supported Nigeria because in the 21st century knowledge-based global economy, the insecurity of one nation is a threat to the security of the world.
“In this vein, the World Bank recently approved USD775 million in IDA credit to rebuild the livelihoods of those badly affected by the crisis, address drivers of fragility and bring long term development to a region affected by insecurity. The recovery programme consists of six projects and focuses on basic education and health services, agricultural production, and livelihood improvement opportunities. It draws from the Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) carried out by the World Bank Group, the United Nations and the European Union.
“This year, the United Nations and partners are appealing for $848 million for 183 projects to be implemented by 69 humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations and international/national NGOs. As of 31 March 2019, 51.3 million (six percent) of the funds have been received.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, despite this enormous resources spent in the past and present on projects and programmes of both local and international actors, the impact analysis which is reflected in the current troubling statistics shows that billions of dollars is being spent annually without any significant change in the lives of the suffering population of the northeast. It is however instructive to say that ‘something systemic and institutional is definitely wrong,’” Tarfa said.
Tarfa further added that if development stakeholders honestly wanted to save lives, stabilize the situation, and rebuild lives and communities for the future, then they must courageously interrogate their conscience, re-examine their character and evaluate the integrity of their intentions.
“We must be fearless in confronting vested interests who are profiteers and merchants of war, chaos and crisis. We must re-calibrate our principles to be consistent with the fundamental values that uphold the dignity of humanity,” Tarfa added.
Earlier, Tarfa said up to three million people were estimated to suffer from critical food insecurity in the northeast, with almost a million children ages six months to five years acutely malnourished, and 440,000 facing severe malnutrition.
He also recalled the Borno State Government’s submission that the state warehouses over 40,000 orphans, 57,000 widows and about 500,000 displaced persons in the most deplorable conditions, with United Nation’s estimate of infrastructure loss in the region to the tune of $9 billion.
On his part, the Director-General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Professor Bakut Tswah Bakut, said the institute decided to host scholars and experts on matters of peace and conflict to share knowledge and experiences on how best to recover and sustain peace in the northeast sub-region.
Bakut added that Boko Haram activities in the Northeast have caused many security challenges, hence the need to engage multilateral peace building efforts to combat radicalisation and ethno-religious strife in order to help the NEDC achieve its objectives.
COVID-19: Ignore Facemask, Risk Arrest, Prosecution, RSG Tells Residents
The Rivers State Government has expressed worries over the high level of non-compliance of health protocols with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that henceforth any resident caught without wearing facemask will be arrested and prosecuted.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim handed down the warning while speaking on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt on Saturday and monitored by the Tide.
Nsirim who is Chairman of the State Inter-ministerial Committee on Enlightenment for Covid-19 recalled the unhappiness of Governor Nyesom Wike during last Wednesday’s State broadcast with the attitude of many residents who flaunt extant directives on the wearing of facemask and other health protocols.
“The Governor in that broadcast also expressed concern that a lot of people in the State are not obeying the protocols. Social distancing, wearing of facemask and he spoke specifically in what is happening in some churches. Government will introduce policies, the onus is on the populace to obey those policies.
“Not just obeying it, the Covid-19 pandemic that we are talking about has defied medical solution for now. So to flatten the curve, everyone living and doing business in Rivers State has to take responsibility.
“If I take responsibility and everyone around me takes responsibility to observe the relevant protocol, we are sure to flatten the curve. But if people live righteously and just do as if nothing is happening because there are places where people are just living in denial.
“Some people still believe that there is nothing like Coronavirus. Two weeks ago, my committee rounded off street to street campaign in all the 23 local government areas of the State. They still met people who are in this denial. That is the challenge.
“The Governor is desirous that Rivers State remains safe. That is why he is initiating policies to ensure that strategically the state is somehow isolated from the national spread,” the Commissioner said.
Nsirim further said, “If you go around the State, since the executive order on facemask was introduced. You will notice that less than
30 per cent of the populace are really obeying that executive order. What we are seeing in the State is that people just put the mask around their chin.
“You go to some churches we see people open their mouth and things will be spewing out in the enclosed environment on the chin. The Governor is saying that to give this wearing of facemask the kind of weight that it deserves to save our people, a special taskforce be put in place.
“That is the only sure way because a lot of people are still living in denial. He said the governor’s broadcast is very clear, arrest and prosecute. Henceforth we will arrest and prosecute people not wearing facemask in public places,” he stated.
The Rivers State Government spokesman said arrangements have been concluded to monitor churches that fail to observe the guidelines of not more than 70 persons per church service, wearing of facemask, provision of water for hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers, while weddings and burial ceremonies should not exceed 50 persons.
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