As part of measures to address the humanitarian crisis in the North East, occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has initiated a $258 million service delivery project in the troubled area.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, made the disclosure on Wednesday at the launch of the programme known as the “Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Project (IBSIP), by the AfDB.
Osinbajo, who delivered the keynote address at the formal launch of the programme, lauded the bank’s intervention, which he described as “landmark”.
This was as the President of the AfDB, Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed that an estimated 14 million vulnerable indigenes of the North East, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), women and children, will be direct beneficiaries of the programme.
While regretting the havoc caused by the nine year-old insurgency, Osinbajo disclosed that over 20,000 lives has been lost to the crisis, while property worth $9 billion had been destroyed.
He expressed the hope that the teeming residents of the affected areas, including gallant troops and others, would see this as a recognition of their resilience against forces of evil.
“I am delighted to be here today for the launch of the Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Project (IBSIP), a landmark intervention in one of the most serious challenges Nigeria has ever faced”, Osinbajo said.
According to Osinbajo, the intervention by the AfDB was consistent with efforts being made by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, in addressing a crisis he described as “unprecedented”.
The vice president said: “There is no doubt that the havoc that the Boko Haram insurgency has wreaked on Northeast Nigeria and the entire country is unprecedented in recent Nigerian history. Over the last decade, more than 20,000 persons killed, $9 billion in destroyed infrastructure, including more than 400,000 houses, and thousands of schools, hospitals and other public buildings. And more than 2 million Nigerians displaced from their homes and communities.
“But the devastation is only a part of the narrative, it is definitely not the entire story. There are the countless stories of heroism and resilience, from the victims of the insurgency, from the troops of the Nigerian Army, and the Civilian JTF, all of who are out there fighting and sacrificing a great deal to keep us safe. For me, these stories of resilience and hope and optimism deserve a lot more attention than theyre currently getting.
“And the event were gathered here for is for all of these people: all of those citizens and communities refusing to be cowed by a band of conscience-less criminals, and striving to rebuild their lives against the backdrop of improving security.”
“According to the latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index, the number of deaths caused by Boko Haram has dropped 83 percent from the peak in 2014. The roads and schools that were all closed a few years ago are now open. This year alone the Nigerian Armys Operation Last Hold has helped 35,000 people voluntarily return to their homes and communities and commence the task of rebuilding lives and livelihoods.
This is not to say there are still no challenges, or that we are satisfied with where we are. Certainly not. Indeed, if there were no challenges left we would not be here today to launch the IBSIP.”
In the face of this, however, Osinbajo said the worst if the Boko Haram insurgency was now over as, according to him, the military has successfully pushed the fighters to the fringes, while clearance operations were being intensified.
“But we are confident that the worst is now well behind us. And the President and Commander-in-Chief is determined to decisively address the recent escalation in terrorist activities . Already the Chiefs of Army and Air Staff are relocating to the Northeast, to oversee a scaling-up of our efforts to end the insurgency completely.
“This, as you all know, has always been the Presidents promise. To defeat Boko Haram and end the insurgency, and to rebuild and restore the Northeast. Right from its inception, our administration has demonstrated its commitment to all of these. In 2016, we unveiled the Buhari Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for the recovery and reconstruction of the region.
“The Plan established the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI) to coordinate all efforts by state and non-state actors, domestic and international, to comprehensively address the economic, social and humanitarian crises in the region.
“At the core of our efforts is the conviction that humanitarian interventions are not by themselves enough to bring about a radical transformation of the circumstances of the North-East Region. We believe in an approach that combines both humanitarian and developmental interventions, which means combining short-term remedies targeted at vulnerable populations with solutions that look well ahead into the future and address medium and long term challenges. In other words, the ideal approach is the one that addresses todays issues while simultaneously anticipating and devising solutions for tomorrows issues; that wins not only the war but the peace as well.
“In practical terms this has meant taking steps to reinvigorate social services such as the provision of health care and education, the restoration of civil authority in liberated areas, and the promotion of livelihoods and human security”, Osinbajo stated.
He argued that the initiative was timely, as it was coming at a time more IDPs were returning to their ancestral homes, as a result of the strides made by the armed forces.
“And this is where the Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Project (IBSIP), comes in. As more people return to their homes, the provision of essential services and job creation in safe locations will play a great role in ensuring that these returnees can get the basic tools and skills that they need to begin to rebuild their lives. The IBSIP, which will be implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the African Development Bank (AfDB), is therefore an intervention focused on investing in infrastructural restoration, the reactivation of social services and the rejuvenation of livelihoods and the culture of enterprise which are necessary for sustainable post-conflict communities.
“Our goal is to achieve, through this project, transformative improvements in water security and sanitation, food security, hygiene, nutrition, the provision of primary health care, basic education, access to markets, entrepreneurship and job creation. We are particularly interested in empowering the youth, women and the vulnerable in ways that are not typical of such interventions. This is because for us as an administration, we recognize that a commitment to transform Nigerian lives is invariably a commitment to transform the lives of the weakest and most vulnerable persons in our country.
“The Buhari Plan identifies key areas of critical impact which guide the design of intervention programmes in the North-East. I am happy to note that the AfDB has, in the design and implementation of the IBSIP, keyed into the Buhari Plan, and is funding projects that will benefit an estimated 14 million affected people, including over 2.3 million Internally Displaced Persons. In line with our administrations focus on the vulnerable, 80 percent of the target beneficiaries are women, children and youth. We are also paying especial attention to rural households in the Local Government Areas affected by the insurgency.
“it has been gratifying to note how enthusiastically our friends and partners have rallied to our support, mobilizing resources to tackle the crisis in the North-East.”
In his opening remarks, the AfDB, President, Adesina, acknowledged efforts made by the federal, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba state governments, at ensuring that internally Displaced Persons were fully reintegrated.
Adesina, who was represented by a Senior Director of the Bank, Ebrima Faal, disclosed that an estimated 14 million people, including 2.3 million IDPs (of which 53 % are women, and 57 % are children) are expected to directly benefit from the laudable initiative.
“It is indeed an honor to celebrate the launch of the Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Program for North East Nigeria.
“Your excellences, you will recall that we developed this program in response to the Federal Government’s plans for the North East. This included an appeal to development partners to contribute to the recovery and rebuilding of North East Nigeria.
“I seize this opportunity to appreciate and acknowledge the leadership of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and the Governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, and Taraba States; the Honorable Minister of Finance, and the Chairman of the Presidential Committee of the North East Initiative for making this day a reality.
“The State Governments, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank jointly finance the Inclusive Basic Services Program. The Federal Government is the borrower of the loans from the two international Institutions. This program is a good example of effective partnership between the Government of Nigeria and the Development Partners. The program was fortune to have had strong and dedicated teams to drive it to a successful conclusion.
“The Bank has remained a strong partner of the Federal and State Governments in their efforts to restore livelihoods in the North East. For instance, throughout the period of heightened conflict in the region with two performing programmes in Yobe and Taraba States. The experience gained and lessons learnt from implementing these two projects are incorporated in the design of the current intervention”, Adesina said.
The former minister of Agriculture further notes that: “The Inclusive Basic Social Service Delivery and Livelihood Program seeks to curb fragility aggravated by the insurgency in the North East. The Program is fully aligned with four of the five priority areas of the Bank known as the Bank’s High fives — Light and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of life of Africans.
“This Program addresses the improvement of quality of life of the population of North East Nigeria through the restoration of basic services. It ensures equity by providing access to basic services for all. It also incorporates special gender considerations by ensuring that women are active participants in all stages of the project and providing training for women and youth entrepreneurs to increase their chances for employment and business opportunities.
“In addition, the program will address rural electrification as it includes integrated energy systems for pumping of water; lighting for institutions and community centers; providing for cold chains in health units; and energy for drip irrigation.
An estimated population of 14 million affected people including about 2.3 million IDPs (of which 53 % are women, and 57 % are children) are expected to directly benefit from the basic service delivery interventions in health and nutrition, education and water and sanitation.”
According to him: “Over 9,000 IDPs and head of vulnerable households will receive direct assistance for their economic reintegration and livelihoods. Over 2000 Small and Medium Enterprises (79% women) will be reached to develop and enhance their businesses; 2,900 construction artisans and mechanics working in the informal sector will be supported to enhance quality and productivity and 2,000 unskilled youth will be trained in economic skills for employment and job creation.
“The challenge now is on the Implementing Agencies to deliver the basic services contributing to the quick recovery of the North East.”
He, therefore, assured that, “he Bank in close collaboration with the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the UN System and other Development Partners is well prepared to support the implementation of the project.”
In an interview with newsmen, Faal assured that the Bank has a formidable project implementation mechanism in place, to guarantee the success of the scheme.
Faal said: “Our programmes are always monitored. Our disbursements are always conditional on seeing results on the ground. In the past,we have had problems of implementation in the North East because of security issues.
” Borno for instance, is quite a difficult place to implement project but we have learnt some important lessons from projects that were implemented in Yobe and Taraba state over the last 5 years so, they have been used to help design this program but also, we are in a process of developing a pilot drone program that will help in doing supervision of program so if we can’t take the risk of sending our staff, we can actually have drones.
Stella Enenche, Abuja
Tags: Boko Haram