Special purpose vehicles have become accepted instruments in the rebuilding of communities and societies plagued by violence and or insurgency. It is to this end that even world institutions like the United Nations, World Bank and their likes design tailor-made interventions to address particular issues of post-conflicts and economic meltdown.
In Nigeria, the earliest intervention program was the Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (3Rs) policy of General Yakubu Gowon after the disastrous 30 months Civil War. The program was geared towards reconciling the secessionist South Eastern state with the rest of the country, engineer the reconstruction of the region and other areas affected by the war and rehabilitate the people back into the Nigerian federation.
Though opinion remain divided as to the success or otherwise of the 3Rs policy, it has continued to serve as a roadmap as to what to do and not do in the rebuilding of communities ravaged by crisis.
Since the birth of insurgency in the North East of Nigeria in 2009, governments – federal, state and local – were in a dilemma in balancing infrastructural development and human capital growth. The catch was not for lack of initiative rather the seeming intractable quandary that the Boko Haram challenge had become. The issue of how to move forward with the rebuilding of the North East in human and infrastructural terms found a compass when President Muhammadu Buhari established the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI).
The committee which has General T.Y. Danjuma as chairman is saddled with the onerous responsibility of serving as “the primary national strategy, coordination and advisory body for all humanitarian interventions, transformational and developmental efforts in the North-East region of Nigeria.”
The endearing sentiment about the PCNI is the recognition that for a region that has borne the brunt of a vicious cycle of violence, the urgency of infrastructural and human capital development could not be understated. For one, the region, home to over 23,558,674 or 13.5% of the Nigeria’s population, its human capital and basic amenities have taken serious hit that its competitiveness was considerable weakened that it required a measured intervention owing to its being unable to sustain growth.
With clarity of vision to ensure a safe, secure and prosperous North East region that is a major asset to Nigeria and a global model for post-conflict socio-economic recovery and development, the PCNI has demonstrated without much fanfare that its mission of providing an integrated framework for coordinating all initiatives for sustainable peace and development in the region is attainable.
While it is important that the committee under the chairmanship of General Danjuma is on track and delivering on President Buhari’s vision, it is instructive to acknowledge the impressive managerial ability of the Mr. Tijani Tumsah, vice chairman of the PCN, who sees to the day-to-day running of the committee.
To most Nigerians, it is still a matter of bits and pieces as to what the committee is doing because of the less media decibel which seems to be an unwritten policy of the PCNI. However, for close watchers of efforts in the North East, there is no gainsaying that the committee is living true to why it was established; touching lives, engendering synergy with various development partners and putting smiles back on the faces of those caught in the unfortunate whirlpool of Boko Haram.
One area that has witnessed immeasurable violence when one takes into cognizance the long-term implications of the Boko Haram insurgency is education. A glimpse into how badly hit the situation is in that sector was given by the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, in early May of this year. According to the minister, over 1, 500 schools have been destroyed, with the death toll in thousands and about 2.5 million children at risk of no education.
The PCNI like the oasis it is in the desert of the North East has remained in the forefront of ensuring that access to quality learning is not entirely lost and that the children should not be deprived of education with scholarships to students in the ravaged states. ; they are also being robbed of future opportunities which will affect the entire society.
Only recently, Alhaji Tijani Tumsa made the point that “education should continue despite the conflicts but this was not evident for many people,” when the Committee through its Safe School Initiative presented scholarships to over 2,000 students in Boko Haram insurgent states in the North East.
Speaking at the particular occasion at the Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) Bajoga, Gombe State, Tumsa enthused that “the purpose of the visit is to carry out a monitoring and evaluation exercise. It is a PCNI routine to monitor and evaluate the performance of the students here in FGGC Bajoga”.
More than ensuring that school children do not lose on the opportunities education offers is the PCNI’s seeking creative local solutions to local problems in the country. It is little wonder that the Committee started its first ever North East humanitarian and innovation hub. The hub which is a project of the Nigerian National Social Investments Programm (NNSIP) under the office of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, is designed “to foster creative local solutions to local problems emanating from the ongoing conflict in the North East.”
The import of this as noted by Vice President Osinbajo is that it not only provide opportunities for growth but also utilizes the great talents that abound in the region and the country generally. Without a doubt, what the North East needs, and urgently too, are industrial hubs to engage the thousands left prostrate which one is optimistic that the PCNI’s hubs would indeed harness technologies and turn technical ideas developed by individuals into industrial products. It is something of a cheer to realize that the Committee is in the know that it cannot run the race alone and is synergizing with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the American University of Nigeria to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest challenges impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid across the region. What this means that it is not only cost cutting but will pool the required expertise to harness the talent that exists within to solve the problems of a region that has suffered greatly from the impact of insurgency.
Other noteworthy interventions of the PCNI include the reintegration of ex-combatants, donation of building materials to the state governments to support the reconstruction of communities destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents, extensive medical outreaches,provision of health care equipment for hospitals amongst other interventions. It is of significance to state that the good thing about the de-radicalisation process through the Operation Safe Corridor programme is that it is anchored on transitional justice and treaded with caution, so as not to send the wrong signal to the aggrieved communities that had lost loved ones that ex-insurgents are being rewarded.
As the PCNI wades through the puddle left by the insurgency that has been downgraded by the gallantry of our military, the expectation is that it must have learnt from the foibles that stunted past efforts at rebuilding and reconstruction if it keeps its focus fixed on its mandate by ignoring the din of unwarranted criticisms.
In all, the words of Governor Mohammed Bindow of Adamawa state rings true; “The initiative has a tremendous impact on the lives of the people,” and this Tumsah and his team should not forget.
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