• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

How to rehabilitate the North-East

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President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that his government would soon inaugurate a committee for the rehabilitation of the Boko Haram-ravaged North-East. This is a good move.  Unveiling comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes and projects to restore communities to their pre-war peaceful and productive conditions is what most people in the North-East are expecting from the federal and state governments.

Furthermore, people of the North-East are hopeful that the committee will have powerful individuals who can use their influence to drive up the rehabilitation process. But the committee should not just be made up of powerful individuals but also people with a passion for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged North-East.

President Buhari’s plan to inaugurate such a committee may have been necessitated by some basic rationales – a collective and transparent approach, efficiency, and the opportunity to easily mobilize substantial amount of funds.

As the military is winning the war, the ideal step to take next is the application of soft approach to winning wars – programmes and projects to tackle the original factors that facilitated the growth of Boko Haram and helped the group in its recruitments and indoctrinations, i.e., abject poverty, illiteracy and the absence of employment opportunities in these states.

The proposed committee should coordinate funding and execution of projects and programmes to help in the restoration of basic infrastructure, integration of lives and livelihood of the people, the quick rehabilitation of farmlands, the local economy, places of worship, health centres, bridges, boreholes, schools, etc. Efforts should also be made to create productive employment for the teeming unemployed citizens and those engaged in unproductive manual jobs.

Any plans for the North-East has to be tied to agriculture. Agriculture is the easiest way to touch and reintegrate the people in the region while also  quickly rehabilitating the land, the people and the local economy from the ‘scars’ of Boko Haram’s senseless war.

The committee, working in tandem with NGOs and state governments, should identify the most affected communities, rehabilitate and also provide them with basic infrastructure that was hitherto not available in the communities. For instance, if Madagali in Adamawa State is affected by the war, the committee should work with the Adamawa State government to rebuild Madagali’s schools, water supply, arable land, market, rural electricity – in fact the entire basic infrastructure.

If this is done, the lack of clear direction most war-torn communities suffer will be completely eliminated. Hundreds of communities can be restored at once, because most of affected communities are compact and reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of a community may not be an expensive project.

The Borno State governor, Kasim Shettima’s efforts in rebuilding communities through the ministry charged with reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency is an excellent model to copy.

If communities ravaged by the Boko Haram’s senseless war are  reconstructed, rehabilitated and resettled, it will fast-track the healing of scars of the war, restore basic infrastructure and local economies, and return these communities to their pre-war or even better conditions.

Zayyad I. Muhammad