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Borno, UN Host High-Level Donor Visit To North-East

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The Borno State Government and the United Nations hosted a high-level delegation of key partners during a one-day mission to Borno State, last Friday, to highlight humanitarian and development priorities in the North-East.

During the visit, delegates from Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited key locations, and were provided an overview of the coordination and operational challenges related to humanitarian and development programming in the region.

The objective of the high-level visit was to underscore development deficits in the three states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and to put a spotlight on humanitarian needs, particularly with regard to access for service delivery, security, and the rapidly escalating food insecurity.

The mission included two parallel visits to Banki, Bama LGA as well as Maiduguri in Borno State.

 In Banki, delegates visited and met with key partners and beneficiaries from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Stabilization Facility.

The high-level delegation discussed the ongoing insecurity in the region, and how the protracted conflict in Nigeria has affected the Lake Chad region, including its neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad for over 10 years.

As a result, over 3.2million individuals are displaced, with 4.4million food insecure people at crisis and emergency levels and millions of civilians subjected to extreme hardships.

In the North-East alone, 13.1million people live in areas affected by conflict, out of whom 8.7million are in need of immediate assistance.

The security situation remains highly volatile with non-state armed groups (NSAGs) continuing to target communities as well as humanitarians, including in areas that were previously considered secure.

Delegates were able to visit the Banki IDP camp and the newly constructed police station and customs office on the border of Cameroon to learn how development efforts were increasing security and supporting the return of normalcy in the community.

Led by the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, with support from the UN, the mission also provided an opportunity to advocate for humanitarian and development efforts, emphasize the protection of civilians in the context of a challenging and insecure operating environment, and highlighted operational efforts in restoring the dignity of conflict-impacted communities through a people-centred approach paired with durable solutions.

 In addition, the delegation discussed the urgent need to scale-up initiatives around food security, nutrition, protection and livelihoods for impacted populations in desperate need.

“Here in the Lake Chad region, we face one of the most severe humanitarian emergencies in the world. The uncertainty arising from the conflict is hampering normal life making dependency on humanitarian assistance a necessity but an unwarranted norm”, Zulum said.

“While we thank our committed international stakeholders for their strong partnership and generous contributions to the stabilization of the North-East, I urge for continued support from all partners to continue to join us, whole-heartedly, in taking bold steps to promote development in the region”.

In Banki, delegates visited and met with key partners and beneficiaries from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Stabilization Facility (RSF), which uses a community-level approach to enhance physical security and access to justice, rehabilitate essential infrastructure and basic service delivery as well as revitalize the local economy to help communities recovering from conflict build back better.

The Resident Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations Nigeria, Edward Kallon said, “On behalf of the UN system, I wish to extend a deep sense of appreciation to our international partners for their continued support to the government and people of the BAY states as well as the Lake Chad region.

“The mission today has shown the power in combining development and humanitarian efforts, and it is clear that we must accelerate these contributions and find innovative ways to end this decade-long conflict if we are to meet our global, national and state goals to build back stronger”.

Delegates were able to visit the Banki IDP camp and the newly constructed police station and customs office on the border of Cameroon to learn how development efforts are increasing security and supporting the return of normalcy back in the community.

In addition, delegates were able to have a dialogue with the community-led Stabilization Committee and returnee representatives to hear first-hand from the community about their needs and challenges.

In Maiduguri, delegates had the opportunity to meet with members of the displaced population, and key humanitarian actors, who lead the various sectors of response.

The free-flowing discussions with the delegation were led by Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Vincent Lelei, and brought focus to priority concerns of the humanitarian community, as it relates to access, security, protection, freedom of movement and the potential impact of catastrophic food insecurity.

During the visit the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) took the delegation to Muna IDP camp and the Stadium IDP Camp, engaging with IDPs and partners who are supporting the two camps.

Delegates also met at the governor of Borno’s office to have a dialogue with key government actors as well as participate in the launch of a new UNDP report, ‘Assessing the Impact of Development in North-East Nigeria’ which looks at the impact of conflict on development in the BAY states.

In her remarks, the Head of Cooperation of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, said, “Today’s high-level visit to Borno State, including Banki, has been a great opportunity to reassert the EU and the international community support to the implementation of the Lake Chad Regional Stabilization Strategy.

“To date, the EU and its member states have committed around €56million through the UNDP Regional Stabilization Facility. This is a concrete illustration of Team Europe’s contribution to the stability of Nigeria and the wider region”, she added.

As communities attempt to recover, resilience can only be built when both humanitarian and development efforts are combined through the humanitarian-development peace nexus.

While root causes of the conflict are many and varied, priority must be given to address these challenges.

This high-level visit provided key donors with the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the urgent need for continued support to assist conflict impacted communities in North-East Nigeria recover.

Also speaking, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, said, “I am glad to have had the opportunity to visit communities in Borno and meet with Governor Zulum to understand the situation on the ground. It is vital we ensure the safety and dignity of displaced people, act now to tackle worsening food insecurity, and support stabilisation efforts.

“The UK is providing a comprehensive package of support to the region, including lifesaving humanitarian aid for conflict-affected people and support for the Regional Stabilisation Facility”.

“We are grateful to our partners on the ground who directly implement programmes made possible through U.S. humanitarian assistance totaling over $1.45billion over the past 6 years. There is no substitute for seeing and hearing from local residents and displaced families who are finding ways to live under the most austere conditions” the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Mary Beth Leonard, added.

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Reps Urge FG To Revisit School Feeding Programme

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The House of Representatives, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to revisit the school feeding programme, suspended over sundry controversies.
The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme was a pilot programme launched in 2004 targeting 12 states to provide a nutritious midday meal to public primary school pupils in the country:
In 2016, the programme was relaunched nationally, targeting public primary school children using locally sourced ingredients to improve health, stimulate agricultural production, and boost smallholder farmers’ income.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu, on January 12, 2024, suspended all programmes of the National Social Investment Programme Agency for six weeks.
The four programmes administered by NSIPA are N- the Power Programme, Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, and Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
Following the adoption of the motion, the House mandated its Committees on Special Duties and Finance to invite the Ministers of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Education, and Finance to revisit the program and propose solutions for its future success.”
The House, while adopting a motion on “Urgent call to revisit school feeding policy” moved by the member representing Tarauni Federal Constituency, Kano State, Mr Muktar Zakari, noted that the philosophy behind the NHGSFP is to encourage enrollment into the public primary schools, address childhood hunger pangs, and improve their ability to concentrate, learn, and increase school attendance.
The lawmaker, a member of the New Nigeria People’s Party, lamented that “The suspension of the NHGSFP by the current administration is unsettling for several reasons, namely reduced school enrollment and attendance, compromised health and cognitive development of the children, and disruption of the income of smallholder farmers.”
He also said “Addressing the programme’s challenges is crucial, but a complete suspension may cause more harm,” noting that “It is important to find alternative solutions or efficient implementation of the NHGSFP to ensure Nigerian children continue to benefit from this important initiative.”
In his words, “The cancellation of the programme is causing an upsurge in the number of out-of-school children, posing a threat to the country’s future and leading to a high rate of crimes, insecurity, and unemployment.”

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Kogi Lauds Appeal Court’s Verdict On Ododo’s Victory

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The Kogi State Government has hailed the verdict of the Appeal Court, Abuja that yesterday uAtiku hails Supreme Court judgment on LG autonomypheld the victory of the state governor, Usman Ododo.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, made the government’s position known in an interview with journalists shortly after the judgment was delivered in Abuja.
Fanwo described the judgment as “sound,” adding that the it represents “echoes of the indisputable victory” of the governor at the poll.
He said the governor remains unwavering in his faith in the judiciary.
The conmissioner said, “Today’s judgment represents echoes of our victory on November 11, 2023. We campaigned round the state and worked hard to reassure the people that our party is the most reliable to take the state forward.
“November 11 will continue to be remembered in Kogi as the day that Kogites across the senatorial districts united to speak with one voice, birthing a resounding victory for the incumbent governor.
“Today’s verdict has offered another great opportunity for those who lost at the poll and in the courts to join the governor in moving the state forward.”
Fanwo said the court case did not in any way slow governance down as the governor has continued to “roll up his sleeves and deliver democracy dividends to the great people of the state.
“The jubilation that greeted the verdict affirming the victory of the Chief Servant of Kogi is a demonstration of the triumph of the people’s will.”
He urged the people of the state to continue to support the governor to make the state the Confluence of Excellence.

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Insecurity: Reps Want Modern Technology Deployed In Nation’s Borders

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The House of Representatives has called on the Nigeria Customs Service to deploy modern technology to secure the nation’s borders with neighbouring countries.
The directive followed the adoption of a motion on “Need to employ the use of modern technology to secure the nation’s borders,” sponsored by the member representing Awka North/Awka South Federal Constituency, Anambra State, Obiageli Orogbu at Thursday’s plenary.
Consequently, the Reps mandated “The Nigeria Customs Service to beef up the nation’s border security with modern technological gadgets.”
It also directed its Committees on National Security and Intelligence and Customs and Excise to “Interface with the relevant agencies of the executive arm to ensure implementation and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.”
Leading the debate, Orogbu said that there are over 320 illegal routes into Nigeria “That serves as horrendous channels for the influx of inadmissible aliens and goods.
“Nigeria at the moment lacks sufficient security personnel to safeguard the existing illegal routes across the borders. These unmanned routes provide avenues for insecurity, proliferation of arms, and dumping of unwholesome goods into the country;
“The porous borders have provided an impetus to the thriving drug and human trafficking routes all over the country.”
Justifying the significance of the motion, the Labour Party chieftain noted that, “Border policing has since shifted from the mundane use of only human beings to the deployment of sophisticated electronic based equipment for potency.
“The deployment of technologies like electronic sensors, video monitors, and night vision scopes to detect illegal entries has proved more effective in western countries than human security.
“Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, (drones) and dark fighter cameras are available to further enhance border controls,” she added.

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