The Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development, in Zamfara State, Faika Ahmed, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to establish Northwest Development Commission, as a means of ending the insecurity in the region.
Mrs Ahmed also said the commission will help in the resettlement of tens of thousands of people that have been displaced in the region.
Residents of the North-west states of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger in central Nigeria have been troubled for years by the activities of bandits forcing them to flee their towns and abandon their farmlands.
The bandits have abducted hundreds of secondary and tertiary school students and have raped several women.
In the letter obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mrs Ahmed said the government is not doing enough in the use of non-forceful means to end insecurity in the region.
The commissioner said only non-military efforts would bring about a final solution to the insecurity in the region. Thus, she argued that the establishment of the commission would ease the pains suffered by residents of the region and will end the destruction and the carnage in the part of the country.
“There is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Northwest region of Nigeria and if a bold, urgent non-military intervention is not implemented, I fear the troubles we see today will pale in insignificance compared to what is to come.
“I know I am not a security expert Excellency but I have spent the last 4 years working for those whose lives have been upended by these conflicts and so my conclusions are informed. It is with the knowledge of all of the pain, destruction and carnage that I have witnessed, first hand, that I am calling, unequivocally for the establishment of the Northwest Development Commission,” she said.
The commissioner said the conflict in the region left a huge economic and humanitarian scare. She said the creation of the commission would help
“attract the required assistance including from international bodies.”
“This is critical because the devastating impact of this crisis on the overwhelming majority of the peoples in these states is horrific. Sadly, the region has lost a significant population of people living in the rural areas, translating into abject poverty in both rural and urban communities. Analysts believe that within the states most affected, you won’t find small communities of 1000 or so people which use to be the case. All have been forced to move into bigger towns with devastating consequences for their livelihood especially agriculture with the attendant consequences on food security and poverty,” she said.
Aside from the glaring poverty rate in the region, Mrs Ahmed said education, agriculture, and health have been devastated by the conflict. For instance, She said students no longer go to school leading to an increase in the number of out-of-school children.
“As you know Mr President, farming which is the bedrock of economic activities in the Northwest is now totally derailed. This livelihood source of over 80% of the population has seized to exist. People find themselves torn between going to the farm and risking getting kidnapped or worst killed, or paying ransom to enable them to cultivate their farms,” she added.
Mrs Ahmed called on federal lawmakers, members of the federal executive council, and traditional and religious leaders from the region to join in the call for the establishment of the commission.
North West Development Commission
PREMIUM TIMES reports that a bill for the establishment of the commission passed the second reading in the Senate last year.
The bill was proposed by Barau Jibrin, a senator from Kano State.
While presenting the bill, Mr Jibrin said “that the commission seeks to act as a catalyst to develop the arrays of potentials of the North West as well as address the gap in infrastructural development of the region.,”
“He said the infrastructure in the zone has been ravaged by terrorists, leaving a major impact on the economy of the region as it has led to severe food shortages, as well as unemployment in a region that has traditionally produced cash and food crops.
“Some proposed functions of the commission include: to formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the North West Zone where security shall prevail; as well as conceive, plan and implement projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the North West in the field of roads, education, health facilities, employment, industrialisation, agriculture, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and commerce,” he said.
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