Still on end-phase insurgency and North-east rebuilding (2)

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proper to suggest that, the region should be considered for the various empowerment schemes by the MDAs and the Central Bank of Nigeria provided other States. It is important to note, that States in the North East especially Borno and Yobe States have not benefi ted from these schemes as a result of the insurgency. Th is is why they should be accorded special consideration.

There is also the need to approach the World Bank and its various agencies for global initiatives and intervention programmes to cushion the crushing level of poverty and unemployment in the Region. Some of the policies and measures implemented in the Niger Delta that should be considered include, fi rst and foremost, expediting action on the creation of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) if the idea is still on the table.

Such a Commission without doubt will serve as a vessel to drive the process of rebuilding the Region. Secondly, the Presidential Committee on the North East (PCNI) should be fi nancially empowered to address the teething problems of the insurgency impacted people of the region in the absence of a Ministry like the one created specifi cally for the Niger Delta Region.

Thirdly, the most potent tool for addressing the poverty, unemployment and rehabilitation of those who have truly renounced the insurgency can best be handled by an elaborate Amnesty Programme. Th ere should therefore be an Amnesty Programme for the North East. Th e Programme if one might say, is long overdue.

Th is position is based on the fact that the circle of poverty, indoctrination and taking up of arms against the state can only be broken when avenues are provided for employment and empowerment of the teeming youths.

The unemployed and poverty striken youths it is believed, could benefi t from the various empowerment schemes employed in the Niger Delta that are seen as a success. Also very necessary is, the fact that those articulating policies for the rebuilding the region should take note of the future security challenges of the region.

Th e consequences of proliferation of dangerous weapons is envisaged to be a source of serious concern for people in the region both now and in years to come. Retrieving the dangerous weapons in circulation is therefore important. This is an initiative that is also best handled by an Amnesty programme. Similarly, the rehabilitation of the repentant insurgents could also be handled more effi ciently within a framework of an Amnesty arrangement. Fourthly, as previously pointed out, the rehabilitation of the infrastructure especially the blown-up bridges, schools and hospitals are essential to the return of normalcy to the North East.

Th e rebuilding of places of living for the people displaced should to be accorded attention. Th e truth is, most of the internally displaced people and even those in the liberated communities have no decent places to stay. Infact, lack of where to stay is the major priority of the displaced people at the moment. Unfortunately, this is one area that has received little or no attention except in some few places where the State Governments have erected few buildings.

Fifthly, there is the need to ensure the contributions of foreign countries and international donor agencies are properly receipted, utilized and accounted for. Fears have been expressed severally that, the contributions of some donor agencies and countries except those provided for medical support cannot be accounted for.

The best strategy in the circumstance is, foreign Governments and donor agencies wishing to help should be given specific area of need to handle. Also requiring urgent attention of the Government is the case of the many displaced people who were forced into neighbouring countries especially the Republic of Cameroun.

There are reports that, the insurgency impacted people forced to cross over to Cameroun are living in very pathetic conditions. So much hostility is allegedly being visited on them by the host communities and authorities.

Th e allegations are credible as some international organizations have raised alarm and voiced concerns over the plight of these refuges. It will therefore not be out of place to, suggest that something is immediately done to repatriate the refugees back to safer places in the country. The fact should be stressed that, the continued problems of the insurgency impacted people of the North East are mainly financial constraints, abuses and diminishing interest. Th e Report of the Senate Committee that investigated the misuse of funds meant for rehabilitating the region revealed this much. Th ere is also the problem of lack of compliance with presidential directives. It will be recalled that, the President some time early this year instructed all MDAs to move in and address areas within the purview of their responsibilities.

Th ere is nothing to show that some of the MDAs have complied with these directives. Finally, very key to the return of normalcy to the North East is, the full return of the civil authority especially law enforcement and para military agencies. It is worthy of note that, there is at the moment no semblance of Government and authority in many parts of the insurgency impacted communities..

Relatedly, the gaps is insecurity configuration and spread that was exploited by the insurgents are yet to be addressed. The security and the law enforcement agencies as well as the paramilitary agencies, must strengthen their presence in the region. Considering the vastness of some of the States in the North East establishing more security posts and deploying more personnel is advised. Th e relative calm being experienced in most parts of the North East at the moment is a strong indication that the military and security forces have significantly decimated the insurgents. This is the most significant achievement of all the developments in the North East. Much however still needs to be done as we are engaged in an asymmetric not conventional warfare.

The enemy could still spring surprises anytime. Also, very critical to dealing with challenges inherent in this phase of the insurgency is, the need to flush out the displaced insurgents who are embedded in the areas between Nigeria and Cameroun among other places.

Their networks and safe havens for external support should be dismantled. In this regard, the military and security forces should ensure no foreign terrorist entity gains footfold in any part of the country. The country should as a matter of fact learn from the experiences of Mali and Niger in this regard. The two countries have intermittently experienced relapses into violent attacks by sleeper cells of extremists. Equally critical is, the need to mount well coordinated mopping up operations in areas believed to be infested with the insurgents, their collaborators and support.

The military should be commended for doing well in this area. It should be noted that, Military aid to civil authority is usually the norm. However, this phase of the counter insurgency operations requires civil authority should aid the military efforts. Communities in the affected States especially those in Borno and Yobe States must be sensitized, mobilized and encouraged to support the gallant soldiers with actionable intelligence.

The other critical role expected of the military to close the unfortunate chapter of insurgency in the North East is, securing the release of the remaining Chibok Girls and the fourteen girls and women from Lassa abducted by the insurgents on 20th of June.

To the aff ected communities, the insurgency cannot be said to have been defeated without the release of those still being held hostage. Th is is understandable. Also, information that the insurgents are holding many others captive should be looked into. As pointed out earlier, civil authority must be prepared to take over from the military in areas where reasonable level of normalcy has returned. Also, the point should be stressed that, responsive and transparent governance, as well as, accountability are important in bringing the insurgency in the North East to an end. Stakeholders must also do away with the tendency not to admit their failures and constraints.

Those charged with managing the delicate assignment of rehabilitating the traumatized people of the North East should also avoid being allergic to scrutiny and criticism of their activities. Th e people and the Government have too much at stake to allow the laudable eff orts of defeating the insurgency and rehabilitating the Region are sabotaged.

This is why the ongoing counter insurgency operations and the rebuilding of the devastated communities must be supported by all and sundry. Gadzama OFR, mni, is former director general State Security Services Fr. Anyanwu is National Director of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja Concluded

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