By Terna Terka
The North East Development Commission, as an agency of government, is saddled with the responsibility of leading the socio-economic recovery of states in North-East Nigeria, ravaged by the Boko Haram crisis since 2009.
I have followed the activities of the NEDC closely since its inception, and I dare say that the way and manner the leadership has employed the use of Information and Communication Technology in carrying out its operations is indeed phenomenal. This much was indeed buttressed by the way it has continually engaged the youths through the instrument of ICT, with the various ICT centers established across states in North-East Nigeria.
The establishment of ICT centres across states in the North East is indeed a welcome development because it would allow the bustling youthful population the opportunity to be self-reliant. In the words of the managing director of the NEDC, he said that the objective of the NEDC ICT programme is to improve access to Information Technology resources within the North-East zone and empower the population with necessary vocational education, skills and tools that can make them self-reliant. Brilliant.
I am aware that the NEDC has made the training of youths on ICT a significant scope under its youth empowerment scheme. And the result has been phenomenal across states in North-East Nigeria. In Bauchi State, the NEDC trained 204 youths on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Agriculture.
At the presentation of certificates to the graduands, Governor Bala Mohammed explained that the NEDC has been thorough in the area of ICT training, provision of agricultural machinery and inputs, stressing that the two sectors are driven by the youths who suffer from the problem of unemployment, which has led a lot of them to restiveness and social vices.
I could not agree less with the statement of Governor Bala Mohammed in the sense that the management of the NEDC indeed realized the importance of engaging youths in these critical sectors with the ultimate aim of filling that gap which has been created over the years as a result of the crisis in the region.
No fewer than 197 youths have graduated from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training programme in Adamawa state. It is instructive to state that the ICT training programme encompasses entrepreneurial skills, bookkeeping and computer appreciation such as digital graphics design and smartphone repairs. Little wonder why a cross-section of youths in Taraba State commended the NEDC for training 331 of them in various skills.
The story is also the same in other North-East Nigeria states that have seen the youths embracing productivity while channelling their time and energies into making life meaningful for themselves in ways too numerous to mention.
In my opinion, this move by the NEDC is indeed strategic and aimed at reducing the venerability of youths being conscripted into insurgent groups. For those of us conversant with the methodology of the Boko Haram insurgents in recruiting fighters, I can say that with this initiative in place, not only would recruiting youths into terrorist gangs be daunting; it would also aid the reconstruction efforts of the federal government in North-East Nigeria. On the heels that the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has strong potential to transform economies and societies in several ways.
At this point, I must commend the NEDC for sound leadership with what I have called the ICT revolution at the grassroots level. We might not fully grasp the strategic importance of this because it is at the initial stages, but in the long run, the impact would be phenomenal.
I also think it won’t be a bad idea if the federal government replicates the NEDC ICT training model across the country to engage the curious minds of youths across the country, especially at the grassroots level.
This is also a lesson in leadership, where the conceptualization and implementation of policies with the target audience are at its core. This is what the NEDC has done with the ICT Training Programme, which is deserving of commendation.
The Mohammed Goni Alkali led NEDC has proven that they mean business with regards to fulfilling the commission’s mandate. And the NEDC is indeed moving in the right direction, not just with the ICT revolution but also in other critical areas where its intervention has been felt.
The agricultural and educational sectors are other areas where the NEDC has introduced dynamism. I dare say that the leadership of the NEDC has indeed redefined leadership which should serve as an example to other intervention agencies in the country.
In conclusion, the takeaway from the NEDC ICT revolution is the creation of jobs for the youths in the North East that would translate to less restiveness and other vices that are inimical to the region’s socio-economic development.
This is indeed a big one. And the charge to the Mohammed Alkali Goni led NEDC is to continue to do more now and in the years to come towards seeing to the revamping of the economy of North-East Nigeria.
Terka wrote this piece from ABTI, Yola.