THE proposed N15.8 billion National Emergency Relief Programme, with the bulk expected to be invested in the rehabilitation of the North East, is a major proposal in countering the effects of the insecurity’ in the region. It must be stated that the amount would prove inadequate for the damage long drawn security challenges have visited in the area.
Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced the initiative with former British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown. Governors K a shim Shettima (Borno), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe) and the Director General of the National Emergency Relief Agency, NEMA, Alhaji Sani Sidi, were also present.
The three-pronged programme is a collaborative effort of the federal, state and local governments, private sector, as well as international partners. It includes provision of relief to victims of the insurgency, repair of infrastructure and implementation of the Safe Schools Initiative. It was hatched during the World Economic Forum for Africa, which Abuja hosted last month.
These bold steps demonstrate the readiness of Nigeria, its private sector players and international allies, to address the plight of Nigerians in the theatre of conflict. The package is an incentive for all concerned to redouble efforts to end the insurgency.
An end to the conflict is important to ensure that the money is not wasted. If the conflict persists, the impact of the package would be lost in the further damages the insurgency would cause. The package is small, but its impact would depend on how well it is utilised. A respectable range of financial assistance to hasten the return of normalcy in the stricken zone, with more provided as more needs are identified, is more useful than lavishing funds in ways suggestive of encouraging rebellions, violent agitations and insurgencies in Nigeria.
Other initiatives should follow. The elite in the region, major beneficiaries of the resources of the region for years, should invest in its rehabilitation. The insurgency calls their leadership to question. Their answers should include packages for ameliorating the state of the people, many of whom are in circumstances that are beyond their widest imaginations. Rampart poverty in the region and damage to its resources have increased.
The political, traditional and religious leadership of the North East would bear a primary responsibility to ensure an end to the conflict. The return of normalcy in the region is important for the implementation of the rehabilitation package.
Issues that resulted in the insurgency are more local than they are made to seem. Without support of local leadership, that understands the terrain, efforts to end the conflict would be wasted.
Nigerians are desirous of peace in parts conflicts persist. We support more investments in peace for their proactive impact