Dear members of the press, we welcome you to this important press conference.
We are here as members of the North East Education and Social Accountability Cluster with the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) as an anchor. The cluster is established with the special goal of mobilizing all stakeholders towards the rebuilding and reconstruction of the north-east with a particular focus on ensuring social accountability in the education sector.
One of the issues that President Muhammadu Buhari prioritized both during the campaign and at the inception of his regime is addressing the insurgency in the north-east along with the reconstruction and rebuilding of the region. The President understood that without reconstruction of the region which has been devastated by the Boko Haram Insurgency, the humanitarian disaster that has resulted in the death of thousands of people and displaced millions of others can not be addressed. Indeed, without this, there can be no successful closure of the insurgency even when the insurgents are completely defeated. Consequently, reconstruction is not a follow up action that will commence following the defeat of the insurgents but a necessary priority that has to commence while the government is still rooting out the insurgents.
The President has on assumption of office promised to quickly come up with framework, strategic initiatives and mechanisms for the implementation of rebuilding and reconstruction programmes for the region. It was in that direction that he constituted the General T. Y. Danjuma led Presidential Committee on North-east Initiatives. The committee among other things was expected to provide the government with framework and mechanism as well as flagship programmes for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the region.
No Programme, No Action
The articulation of both the framework and mechanism is critical not only because there is a need for coordination and harmonization of the various efforts aimed at rebuilding and reconstruction of the north-east but also to provide government with a coherent plan and implementation strategy for its rebuilding and reconstruction programmes. In this respect, while the PCNI remained an advisory committee, is expected to midwife the necessary executing agency or structure that will execute the government’s programmes as well as coordination with other stakeholders on the rebuilding of the north-east.
We note that the military campaign of the government has been yielding positive results with many of the areas hitherto under the control of the insurgents, retaken over by the military and indeed in some places, IDPs are either being urged to return to their places or are themselves expressing interest to go back. However, is going back to void with no homes, no means of economic livelihood, no schools, no hospitals and indeed no any shelter for them. This means that if government insists in taking them back, they would be compounding their trauma through a new cycle of crisis.
It is in the view of this, that we members of the civil society working for the reconstruction of the north-east are worried that more than seven months since the president took over, the rebuilding and reconstruction of the north-east that the President has promised is yet to take off. In fact, it is even yet to be articulated. The General T. Y. Danjuma Committee appears to be comatose with it neither doing any coordination nor providing the government with a blue print for intervention in the north-east. The conference of stakeholders it promised to hold to assist in coming up with a blue print for the government has been shifted on more than two occasions and now apparently seemed to be even forgotten.
We wish to call on the federal government to:
Establish the necessary agency or structure that will implement government intervention programmes for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the Northeast
Facilitate through the General T. Y Danjuma led PCNI the immediate convening of the Stakeholders Conference On the Reconstruction and Rebuilding of the Northeast to help the government come up with a blue print for that purpose
Give its support for the speedy passage and accent of the Northeast Development Commission that will eventually take over from the adhoc agency that government could establish as a stop gap
We call on the General T. Y Danjuma Committee to become proactive and engage all stakeholders in the search for ideas and resources for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the Northeast. In particular, we the undersigned members of the Northeast Education and Social Accountability Cluster state as follows:
There is need for the Presidential Committee of the Northeast Initiative to start implementing its agenda
In the event that the existing members can not perform as expected on the ground of lack of time because of other patriotic engagements or lack of energy because of age factor, government needs to rework out the structure of the committee
As it is in the mandate of the committee, it needs to come up with strategies on how it will harmonize other governmental and nongovernmental initiatives aimed at reconstruction of the region.
As schools have started resuming in some affected areas two years after been closed down, the committee needs to pay special attention in schools reconstruction and security project so that access to education will not be an issue for the children of those areas.
The committee should involve local CBOs/CSOs in the implementation of its activities as that will promote transparency and accountability in the process
We also call on the State Governments in the north-east to re-state the earlier regional consultations with a view to coming up with a Regional Development Agency that can eventually clue in to the Federal Government own blue print.
Finally, we want to state our commitment to working with all stakeholders to ensure that all resources meant for the rebuilding and reconstruction of the north-east are optimally, transparently and accountably used for the purposes they are meant for. We urge citizens, their organizations and others to be vigilant around in this area.
Kabiru Sa`idu Dakata, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Kano.
Mohammed G. Wuyo, Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP), Borno.
Enoch Raymond, Centre for Environmental Education and Development (CEED), Taraba.
Rebecca Hassan, Association of People Living with Disability, Gombe.
Aishatu Margima, Women and Youth Empowerment for Advancement and Health Initiative (WYEAHI), Adamawa.
Isah Garba, Bauchi Coalition for Improvement of Public Expenditure Management (BACIPEM), Bauchi.
Halimatu Laminu, Network of Civil Society Organizations, Yobe.
Dauda Mohammad, Northeast Youth Initiative Forum(NEYIF), Yobe.
Asma`u Joda, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Adamawa.
Ibrahim Yusuf, Society and the Future, Gombe.