By Monday Otairu
Peace is said to be an intangible commodity with a priceless tag, which once shattered, gaining it back requires huge investment in terms of human and material resources. Therefore, absence of peace implies that a given community, region or country has been inflicted with instability particularly if the nature of the conflict is overtly violent in character
In recent years, for a long time was peace seen as a luxury to be sought after in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, particularly Borno State which was hitherto been referred to as the “Home of Peace”. Getting a visitation from peace became a herculean task, and if experienced, it was in no time short-lived. This was a result of different hit caused by the activities of Boko Haram insurgency. Similarly, the issues of insurgency created a new dimension of communal and ethnic clashes between farmers and herdsmen in many regions in the North East, which raised the calls for proactive measures.
We must admit that in all human endeavors, the foundation is critical because when the foundation starts on a faulty note, it won’t stand the test of time.
Observing the toll violent conflicts in this region took on both material and human lives leaving the survivors with scars and gory tales of psychological trauma, a quest for growth and development in the NorthEastern region was set into motion, and the search for peace became a necessity. This necessity saw the birth of a perfect relief to the travailing effect; the birth of North East Development Commission (NEDC), charged with the mandated to coordinate the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and reconstruction of infrastructure for victims.
It is worthy of note that prior to the advent of the Boko Haram insurgency in the NorthEast, other forms of conflict do occurred on both small and large scale be it communal, ethnic or religious or to a very large extent, the emerging trend of herders/farmers skirmishes which has become a defining moment of social relations between and amongst myriad of ethnic groups.
This brings our focus to the North East Development Commission (NEDC) that was established to lead the reconstruction and development of North-East Nigeria after years of conflict occasioned by the Boko Haram crisis. Many of us had reservations when the NEDC commenced operations. This was hinged on the past experiences where interventionist agencies instead of fulfilling its mandate end up as cash cows for politicians that are not shy to divert public funds to private pockets in the usual manner. Be that as it may, the phenomena of conflicts and indeed the questions of terrorism and insurgency is a global concern, owing to the fact that communities, societies, states and nation-states have experienced or are experiencing one form of conflict or the other, be it an overt or covert conflicts as the case may be.
The genesis of the NEDC success was approach the leadership of NEDC took in creating a holistic and acceptable Master Plan that can be implemented diversely and comprehensively in the North East. The Commission consulted relevant stakeholders in a bottom-up approach, by engaging them on the Master Plan in all the 112 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the region, as well as with humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors, representatives of member states, CSOs/CBOs, and private and federal legislators from the zone. This created a surge in the many breakthrough experienced nationwide, leaving everyone to the bewilderment of the “HOW?”.
The case of the NEDC has somewhat proven different from other interventionist agencies in the country. There has been a consistent drive towards achieving its core mandate in rebuilding North East Nigeria that had suffered phenomenal destruction since 2009 when the Boko Haram group began its violent campaign against Nigeria. They recognized transparency as one of the basic principles of good governance by giving the public wide insight in the work of public administration and bodies. It rejuvenated the trust and assurance of the North East region people, they trust of Presidential support in the person of NEDC became solidify once again.
However, one thing that I would harp on is the level of transparency entrenched in its operations, and this is not hinged on hearsay or assumptions, but rather a product of extensive scrutiny of its various interventionist programmes across the states in North-East Nigeria. The level of transparency introduced in the operations of the NEDC is tremendous as well as impressive. In my opinion, this is a function of two factors. One is the world view is on the North East and the desire for normalcy to return, and secondly the need to get things right at the foundation level for subsequent efforts in the future. Whichever of the factors that motivated the director, this shows that he has done well and has earned his price for the right appraisal.
Can a tree stand alone to be called a forest? Definitely no. Alkali, the director of NEDC is a man fill with wisdom, humility, and selflessness. At interval, he always openly acknowledged other brains of support that has been sustaining the NEDC before now. Knowing how important humanitarian duties are in the routine of his commission, he takes no time in acknowledging the support and inspirational guidance of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, which has led to numerous modest strides the Commission has accomplished, like humanitarian assistance, recovery, stabilization and peacebuilding. The NEDC is a new agency, and the fact that it has started on this note indicates that in no distance time, its impact would be felt beyond Africa as regards the rebuilding of North-East Nigeria in a well reformed habitable settlement.
It can be obviously stated that the crisis in North-East Nigeria that came with its attendant loss of lives, destruction of properties and displacement of thousands of people has been greatly managed and subdued, leaving its after effects less visible.
NEDC has set the pace of positive challenge to other public office holders in the country towards Peace- building, and the entrenchment of transparency in their operations using the NEDC model. I would implore this other public officers to take a great study of The North East Development Commission, to learn the ropes of their many strategies used in implementing groundbreaking success.
For a fact, it’s no doubt that NEDC has since become a reference point for accountability and transparency for other interventionist agency. They create the flow, while others follow.
Otairu wrote this piece from University of Maiduguri.