President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the newly inaugurated board of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to take over the activities and structures of all government funded agencies working in the sub-region.
Mr Buhari inaugurated the new board, chaired by Paul Tarfa, a retired major-general, on Wednesday.
Before now, various organisations set up by the Nigerian government are involved the reconstruction, rehabilitation and provision of humanitarian services to the people of the north east.
The region is badly damaged by the activities of an insurgent group, Boko Haram.
Speaking shortly after inaugurating the board, Mr Buhari said 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 that are expected to either collapse into the NEDC or seize operations include the Presidential Committee on the North-east Initiative (PCNI), chaired by a former army general, Theophilus Danjuma, and a similar organisation, Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), which is domiciled in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF).
A former SGF, Babachir Lawal, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), for using his private company to allegedly defraud the PINE of N544 million while in office.
Immediate duties of the new board
Mr Buhari on Wednesday also asked the new board to “as a matter of urgency conduct comprehensive survey of all states in the zone to determine the reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of all the socio-economic sectors of the zone and develop an intervention master plan based on the outcome of the assessments”.
He also directed them to develop policies and implementation guidelines for immediate intervention in the development of the zone.
The oresident said in order to avoid duplication of efforts and waste of scarce resources, the new board, “shall be the focal organisation to assess, coordinate, harmonise and report on all the intervention programmes and initiatives that the federal government or any of its ministries and agencies are involved in the region.
“You must, therefore, constantly liaise with the relevant Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), States and other Developmental Partners for the implementation of all programs and initiatives and proper utilisation of funds released for intervention in the zone”.
Mr Buhari said Mr Tarfa and his team should immediately commence the process of resettlement and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (lDPs) to their original homes or new communities in order to bring social cohesion in the zone.
He also directed them to shift focus from humanitarian assistance as soon as possible in all relevant areas to “developmental and infrastructural projects such as reconstruction of roads, houses, and business premises destroyed by Boko Haram”.
He said to achieve that purpose, the NEDC should evolve strategies to key into the African Development Bank (AFDB) Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones and any other such programmes and initiatives championed by Nigeria’s developmental partners (local and international) that will further bring socio-economic development to the zone.
He said they should endeavor to collaborate with willing partners to facilitate achievement of the commission’s goals as enunciated in the Act establishing the commission.
Mr Buhari also tasked the NEDC to coordinate and promote civil-military confidence building and put in stabilisation measures that will ensure continued peace and social harmony as well as avoid the re-occurrence of violence in the zone.
The NEDC (Establishment) Act, 2017 was assented to by Mr Buhari on October 25, 2017.