- Flags-off road projects, distribution of N15bn palliatives
Vice President Kashim Shettima has called on the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to expand the scope of its interventions in the north east region to cover more road projects regardless of their status.
He gave the charge Saturday in Maiduguri at the official flag-off ceremony for the distribution of palliatives in the north east region and the groundbreaking for the Jere Bowl road project.
The event also coincided with the 8th meeting of North East Governors’ Forum, noted a statement issued by his office.
According to the Vice President, “I want to urge the NEDC board to expand the scope of its intervention to cover more road projects across the northeast region, including the Gombe-Bauchi, Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu and Gujiba-Biu roads, among many others.
“Though these roads are regarded as Trunk A roads, they will eventually be used by Nigerians, particularly the people of the northeast.”
Shettima commended the NEDC board for its prudent management of resources and applauded the support of political leaders, including legislators from the north east region for standing firm with the commission.
While tracing the history of crisis in the zone. Sen. Shettima decried the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency on the north east, noting that it has “inflicted damages in the northeast to the tune of 9 billion dollars. Borno alone has damages worth 6.8 billion dollars.”
“There are similar destructions across Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba. If Northeast of Nigeria was to be treated as a nation, we are poorer than Chad, Afghanistan, Niger,” the VP added.
He commended the efforts of governors across the region for uniting the people despite their socio-political differences.
The Vice President said “the northeast is a kaleidoscope of colours made up of different people from different socio-political backgrounds. But, I want to commend our governors for coalescing these units into a single force irrespective of the differences in political and other backgrounds.”
The Vice President had earlier performed the official groundbreaking for the construction of the 22.5km Jere Bowl road network project, covering Jere and Mafa LGAs in Borno State, undertaken by the NEDC.
On the distribution of palliatives worth N15 billion to beneficiaries in 110 LGAs and 18 Senatorial districts across the north east region, the Vice President reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to the welfare of the people.
Items to be distributed to beneficiaries across the zone include mats, variety of clothing materials for women and children, blankets, rice and vegetable oil, among others.
Speaking earlier at the event, Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum called on the NEDC to be more determined in the discharge of its responsibilities and urged the commission to focus more attention in supporting agriculture, especially irrigation farming in the northeast.
He said as part of efforts to improve the fortunes of the region, the North East Governors’ Forum will collectively checkmate the activities of illegal miners as well as engage actively with the Federal Government with the view to exploiting mineral resources in the region for the benefit of the people.
He also commended security agencies for the progress made in the ongoing fight against insurgency and urged them to intensify efforts to eliminate the remnants of fighters hiding in enclaves in parts of the region.
On his part, the MD/CEO of NEDC, Mr Mohammed Alkali welcomed the Vice President, governors and other dignitaries to the event, disclosing that the first phase of construction of the Jere Bowl road network was among other infrastructure projects undertaken by the commission across the region.
He disclosed that while the commission has commended the full implementation of the North East Master Plan, “it will simultaneously key into the present administration’s transport initiative by partnering with the States to deploy affordable and energy efficient electric and CNG-fuelled vehicles.
“Indeed, we will factor our activities with the Renewed Hope Agenda initiatives for agricultural value chain, food security, energy, industrialisation and human capital development that can be synchronised with our schemes, programmes and projects.”
Also present at the event were governors of Bauchi, Bala Mohammed; Yobe, Mai Mala Buni; Adamawa, Ahmadu Fintiri and Deputy governors of Taraba, Karim Iliyasu and Gombe, Manassah Jatau, and members of the National Assembly, among others.