By Botti Isaac
The European Union has been showing strong interest in the state of the north-east Nigeria and has overtime actively canvassed for and indeed supported the rehabilitation of the crisis-torn region. With the recent grant of 143 million Euros (N60.1 billion) for the rehabilitation of communities across Borno state, the body has once again demonstrated significant concern the development of the region. This support which it says will be implemented by a consortium of four bodies and entities, is targeted at providing critical services that includes healthcare, water and sanitation, sustainable energy, employment opportunities and general improvement of the livelihood of the people. Timely as this step is, strong efforts and effective mechanisms however need be put in place to avoid resources not impacting on the people.
Ravaged by twin problems of climate change and insurgency-terrorism, Borno State and indeed other states in north-east Nigeria including, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba have witnessed large-scale destruction of infrastructures and amenities with equally monumental loss of lives and livelihoods. As it were, an estimated 200,000 people have been killed while over 2 million others displaced. With events and situations fast spiraling out of the control and ability of local and state governments, the humanitarian situation soon turned into a nightmare with mass deaths recorded amongst young and under aged children and infants amongst the displaced and critical socio-economic structures in ruin.
While the Nigerian government and international community has recently seemingly stepped up attention on the region, with considerable amount of resources allocated for humanitarian purposes as well as human and structural development, there has however been concern over the efficient utilization of these funds and resources. Overtime, intervention efforts in the northeast, particularly Adamawa and Borno, have yielded very little results as there has been no significant improvements in the lives of the people. While insurgency has also continued to thrive with its deleterious effect on the peoples’ social existence, the region has thus been an enclave of extreme poverty, with all bleak charts in all the indexes of human development.
So far, the fundamental cause of the gap between intervention funds and impact achieved has remained largely corruption and poor intervention monitoring mechanism, governments of these states on their own part have not been keen in ensuring effective service delivery to the affected people.
While the task to rebuild the north-east region, rehabilitate its people and victims and return lives to normal is no doubt a daunting one, the step EU in committing resources towards this task holds good prospects for positive development and impact if properly oversighted. It is also important to note in planning such interventions that critical actions that will address the root cause of the crisis in the northeast region need be explored and factored in. In this regard therefore, special attention need be paid to ecological factors. Special intervention fund should be created to address the ecological crisis prevalent in the region. There is strong need to fund the recharging of the Lake Chad so as to restore the people’s means of livelihood and socio-economic existence linked to the Lake to thus also reduce vulnerability and insecurity in the region.
While the allocation of a staggering sum of $800 million of the said grant to World Bank for an amorphous purpose termed ‘Consultancy’ is very unhelpful, Social Action strongly urges for the institution of a tripartite Intervention Monitoring Mechanism involving government agencies, civil society organizations/development partners and community members. This will ensure effective monitoring of humanitarian interventions and go a long way in ensuring the achievement of set goals and maximum impact on the people and the area.
Botti Isaac, Programme Officer,Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action)