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Lagos Judicial Panel Of Inquiry As A Kangaroo Contraption – By Thomas Uzah

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The recent happenings in the country indeed call for concern from discerning minds. The EndSARS protest has opened a new vista in the battle for the soul of the country. Those against the interest of the country almost had their way, but for a timely intervention, which some segment of the country have decided to turn a blind eye to, instead, they have elected to turn the truth on its head in a most despicable manner.
The events of the past weeks have also brought to our consciousness how slippery the social media space can be with the propagation of fake news. In the social media space, the truth can be turned on its head, and the people would believe without verifying. Yes, that was the case with the EndSARS protest and the intervention of the Nigerian Army in the incidence at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos state. Some might say the approach deployed by the soldiers were wrong, I would agree to a degree, but I am of the firm belief that the intervention was with the best of intents because, before our very eyes, anarchy was looming with the attack on police units and formations, as well as government and private concerns.
Indeed there was palpable tension. That was what most Nigerians didn’t realize, and if decisive actions were not taken, we would have been singing a different song today and as usual, accusing fingers would be raised against the security agencies for failing to act, and in good time.

I must state that there were also a group of people that felt threatened by the commitment displayed by the Nigerian Army in dousing the tension and as such they capitalized on the Lekki Tollgate incidence to get their pound of flesh for daring to alter their plans towards destroying Nigeria.
The social media merchants fell easily for the trap and went to town to peddle all sorts of misinformation about what truly transpired. And the Nigerian Army was leveled with all sorts of accusations which in my opinion, was deliberate.
We thank God the dust has settled, and things are beginning to take shape. The Lagos State government set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution to investigate what transpired to make appropriate recommendations to the state government.

While it is indeed a welcome development, there seems to be a snag in the activities of the Judicial Panel that should give all a cause for concern. The way and manner the panel has been conducting its business is indeed worrisome. It seems the members of the panel are not in tune with the present reality and the task before them. They have arrogated to themselves the power of life and death and seem to have thrown in the trash can all the principle of decorum.

Their actions seem prejudiced, and I am forced to believe that at the end of the day, we might be seeing a Kangaroo contraption designed to cause more harm than good and we stand the risk of a bigger monster than the thugs and hoodlums that hijacked the EndSARS protest.
This fact Nigerians must come to terms with and be circumspect with the actions and inactions of the panel and the revelations that would follow very soon. It is expected that the members of the panel would stand firm in fulfilling its mandate. Ironically that seems to have been sacrificed on the altar of personal and selfish aggrandizement.
It is indeed a shame and quite depressing. So much so that I wonder when we would get things right in Nigeria. I also wonder when individuals entrusted with public trust would rise above board and do the right thing devoid of political considerations.
This is indeed not the time for selective judgment, but rather a time for sober reflection and ensuring that those found to have contributed to the escalation of violence across the country are brought to book to account for their nefarious activities.
So far, this hasn’t been the case with members that are meant to be steadfast in the discharge of their duties have been grandstanding in the media and saying all that is not meant to be said and granting interviews that further compound issues at stake.
This is the starkness of the reality before us, and it is hoped that things would take a turn for good; else we would have wasted considerable time and resources with nothing to show for it and back to square one with more issues to deal with in our plates.

The members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution must quickly realize that posterity would not be kind to them if they continue in this fashion which by all indication negates the objectives for its establishment in the first place. This is not a time to play politics or engage in media grandstanding. They must understand that to whom much is given, much is expected.
Nigerians want the truth and all those that peddled false news that was responsible for the escalation of violence are brought to book unless they want to feign ignorance to the role of fake news in the violence that almost brought the country to its knees. There should be no preferential treatments. All parties must be given a fair hearing, and the conclusions arrived at, a true reflection of what truly transpired.
In my considered opinion, the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry remains a Kangaroo contraption in the light of the way and manner it has carried on with its activities. I pray that there is deep retrospection so, at the end of the day, those that are guilty are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others in the future, and the victims adequately compensated in the spirit of fairness.

Uzah PhD is head of mass communication department, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

Alkali’s Answers To The North -East Humanitarian Question – By Raphael Odoh

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Apparently, Boko Haram insurgents and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have gravely injured and shackled the North East Development Commission (NEDC), a baby created out of necessity to cater for humanitarian crisis incited by Boko Haram. The NEDC’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, (MD-CEO), Alhaji Mohammed Goni Alkali experiences grippingly retells the story of managing the near post-insurgency gores with a nauseating taste.

In his heart of hearts, Alkali wishes to relinquish the job to someone else because the burden is damn too much. But what are the real alternatives at his disposal? Virtually none! Those affected are directly his kith and kin. Someday, questions would be asked from the countryside on why he shirked from coming to their assistance in the hour of need. So, Alkali grudgingly trudges on.

Established in 2017 by the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, the NEDC has had a tortuous path attending to the multifaceted infrastructural and humanitarian crises created by the over 10 years Boko Haram insurgency in the region. In his solemn moments, he seats and reflects on how the NEDC’s efforts in rebuilding the devastated region are again sabotaged by same Boko Haram and its local conspirators. It pierces the heart with pain. But he is determined never to give up.

NEDC’s main responsibilities includes, to receive and administer funds from the federation account, international donors and other humanitarian organizations for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and destroyed business premises of victims of insurgency. NEDC also has the mandate to intervene in ameliorating pervasive poverty, mass illiteracy, ecological problems and any other such linked social problems that would make life more meaningful to the suffering populations living in insurgency ravaged Northeast states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba.

At the inauguration of the NEDC Board, President Muhammadu Buhari gave it a limitless gamut of operations. Mr. President was emphatic that the commission should superintend on the development activities and structures at all levels of government-funded agencies legitimized to work in the region.

NEDC daily sees an internally displaced or deprived population of over 2.6 million Nigerians or more in dire need of rehabilitation and succor under its responsibility. It’s a frightening statistic. It’s precisely the cause of Alkali’s nightmare.

Whether the MD/CEO accepts its or not, the NEDC appears bowed under the weight of sheer destructions by these terrorists’ gangs in the Northeast region of Nigeria. The job is very tasking, strenuous and energy-sapping.

The NEDC’s Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Goni Alkali is clearly dazzled by the magnitude of work on his hands. His admirers and acolytes are asking everyday whether he has enough capacity to solve the humanitarian crises of varying proportions exacerbated by subsisting and continuing destructions of public infrastructures perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgency. And his fever is understandable because the NEDC is the fulcrum of the peace-building, reconciliation and de-radicalization agenda of the Buhari Presidency.

Encouragingly enough, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali is a uniquely talented administrator, widely acclaimed for his defiant battles with obstinate challenges. His consociates’ mouth that the MD/CEO does not shudder or contemplate surrender on any challenge until he conquers the obstacle and snatches success.

Ab initio, Alkali knew that a savior in the neighborhood would not be noticed until he announces his presence. Therefore, the NEDC -MD’s first area of concentration was the engagement of the various communities in the Northeast on sensitization of indigenes on the prevalence of fleeing remnants of Boko Haram insurgents in their midst and how to dismantle unexploded landmines in their communities after the Military’s complete subjugation of the cursed jihadist campaigners’.

Selected persons across communities in the Northeast region in the Boko Haram worse hit states were selected and trained to lead the battle of disabling unexploded landmines. The idea captured the mindset of an administrator perfectly conversant with the preliminary rudiments of his job

The NEDC boss has launched and progressively pursued the agenda of Education Endowment Fund , which has engaged over 20,000 beneficiaries annually to enable them access academic and professional capacity training and development in diverse fields of human endeavors. It has further sparked the anger of Boko Haramists, a sect stridently opposed to western education. Alkali has courageously dared their gods!

Therefore, the commission disburses N6 billion yearly on scholarship for students in the region, which is more than the annual education budgets of most states in the federation. The drag net of the scholarship scheme covers over thousands of students from bachelor’s degree to doctor of philosophy degrees.

Added to it, the NEDC has implemented the rehabilitation of drinking water and sanitation facilities in states of the Northeast Nigeria pinned down by insurgency. It is part of NEDC’s Multisectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP) with the support of the World Bank. The MD/CEO, Alkali is steadily surmounting these challenges because for every kobo into the commission’s coffers, there are human upliftment projects to justify it.

So, within three years, the NEDC has implemented humanitarian reliefs projects totaling 1, 310 under the ambitious scheme of “Rapid Response Intervention” (RRI) in all the 112 local governments of the Northeast region. Humanity survives on food and it is the basic traditional occupation of people of the Northeast. But Boko Haram insurgency pierced it badly resulting in the massive hunger and starvation in the land.

A sensitive Alkali’s focal agenda as NEDC boss has restored it. The commission has funded the implementation of an “Integrated Agriculture Programme,’ (IAP) under the broad umbrella of RRI, which yearly provides agricultural machinery and equipment, seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals and extension services logistics vehicles from NEDC’s funds.

It has bolstered the production capacity of small-holder farmers in Northeast region, and boosted economies of families, which are currently regaining their lost farming treasures and domestic food sustenance. The NEDC sees it as a sacred obligation of the holistic rebuilding agenda of the Northeast region. Annually, the NEDC funds the IAP scheme in each of the 112 LGAs in the Northeast with N50 million.

NEDC has also has also directed its attention to skills acquisition, training and provision of starter packs to over 5, 000 Information Communication Technology (ICT), knowledge seekers. About 5, 000 women and youths in the region are trained annually on entrepreneurship, and another 2, 000 on vocational skills in each of the 1,028 wards of the region ravaged by Boko Haram. And Alkali deems it a faithful a yearly ritual. For the people of the Northeast, it is a narrative of a steady regaining of lost grounds under NEDC’s boss, Alhaji Mohammad Alkali.

The NEDC has also prominently and actively registered its shadows at the De-radicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) Programme of the Nigerian Military otherwise known as “Operation Safe Corridor” (OSC) at Malam-Sidi, in Gombe State in the same region. After the initial work tour to the camp and assessment of intervention areas, the NEDC boss has continued to financially assist the programme with needy facilities.

Alkali’s humanitarian focus on rebuilding the Northeast resounds more in the ambitious housing projects for the IDPs in Borno state, the epicenter of Boko Haram terrorism. Its Mr. President’s consolatory initiative or the FGN to these displaced persons, which is worth N20 billion, but routed through the NEDC.

At the moment, the construction of 10,000 housing units spread across 10 Borno LGAs for the resettlement of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are aggressively pursued. Through the supervision of Alkali, these housing units have reached advanced stages of completion.

The outbreak of the global coronavirus in early 2020 really shook Alkali’s heart. The NEDC boss was sensitive enough to understand that various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were potent vectors of the spread of the epidemic. He personally went round the IDPs camps in the Northeast and supplied essential disinfectant products worth millions of Naira in the collective national struggle to combat the transmission of Coronavirus.

He kick-started the exercise at Bakkassi, Stadium and Muna IDPs camps in Maiduguri. It is reason Nigerians have not heard of COVID-19 related deaths in any of the IDPs camps in the Northeast region.

Hard work is noticed and acknowledged by Nigerians. Alhaji Mohammed Alkali’s leadership of the NEDC is rated high both by the Senate and the civil society. An unpersuaded and uninfluenced body known as the National Accountability Watch Group (NAWG) though its Executive Director, Dr Okpe Joseph Okpe applauded NEDC’s boss for holding the mandate of the Commission evidently sacrosanct by impacting on the economy, social wellbeing and infrastructural development of peoples of the Northeast region.

Under the supervision of another compassionate woman, the Minister of Humanitarian affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, the NEDC boss has replicated her posture of delivering services to Nigerians with a human face. Alkali is sincerely working for the people on whose back he got the mandate to lead the NEDC.

Alkali has dispensed himself as a selfless gentleman by every detail of his assignment today as always. He is doing all within his powers to ensure that citizens in the Northeast forget the sorrows that Boko Haram insurgents and ISWAP terrorists have wrought on the populations. For conscionably comforting the downtrodden and traumatic peoples of the Northeast through various intervention programs, Alkali looks ripe for a reward in heaven. #

Odoh, a humanitarian worker wrote from Maiduguri.

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NPHCDA, COVID -19 And The Fall Of Anti-Vaxxers- By Pine Oralu

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The coronavirus pandemic indeed brought the world to its knees, with various countries imposing lockdown in the bid to stop the further spread of the virus. Consequently, efforts were deployed towards developing a vaccine that would halt the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

In Nigeria, it was not any different as the country was also in lockdown. The government introduced measures that would mitigate some of the adverse effects the coronavirus has had on our socio-economic life.

There was also a challenge, which was essentially how to convince the populace of the coronavirus’s existence and why all must observe known safety protocols such as wearing of facemasks, observing social distancing and ensuring proper hygiene through the washing of hands frequently and avoiding crowded places.

By and large, there was some level of compliance when the number of deaths increased, and the reality dawned on us. I think credit must be given to the government in its sensitization efforts, and the rest they say is history.

However, we must all be glad that the vaccines are here. There seems to be some glimmer of hope towards the world returning to normalcy if the vaccination process goes as planned. This is indeed the crux of this piece regarding the various conspiracy theories that have come out since the vaccines’ rollout, especially in Nigeria. I must add that it has been such a daunting task for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency officials to ensure that Nigerians are vaccinated.

The NPHCDA has stated that close to 400,000 Nigerians have been vaccinated so far since the vaccination programme began. This is quite commendable given the various conspiracies across the country that condemned the vaccine, so much so that stakeholders in the health sector doubted if Nigeria’s vaccination programme would be successful. They were wrong.

This is where I would commend the NPHCDA for its sensitization efforts and the orderly manner it has gone about in ensuring that the administration of the vaccines across the country was seamless. The registration portal created before the commencement of the exercise was ingenious because it was a departure from the past where such programmes were marred by poor planning, execution and other logistics impediments.

If truth be told, Nigeria has fared better than most countries in administering the vaccines to the populace. And this further reinforces the role of leadership in our daily lives. The Dr Shaibu Faisal led NPHCDA has once again demonstrated that indeed what is needed in Nigeria is purposeful leadership that is anchored on transparency, accountability and a sense of direction.

The NPCHDA knew what was at stake if the conspiracies against the vaccine thrived. Consequently, their efforts paid off handsomely with the reception the administration of the vaccine has received, even from the most critical individuals and groups across the country. Suffice I add that the vaccine administration’s success in the country didn’t come on a platter of gold. The sensitization was top-notch. The distribution of vaccines across the states was seamless. And the results have been outstanding.

If not for anything, I am particularly joyous that one of the most critical fellows against the vaccine, Femi Fani-Kayode, has taken to the social media to flaunt and inform Nigerians that the vaccines are safe and encouraged Nigerians to go for the jab. This is indeed a great victory for all and a sign to tell that the NPHCDA has done well in ensuring the success of the vaccination campaign in the country.

If this is not victory, I don’t know what else to call it. This is not just victory for the NPHCDA, but a victory for all Nigerians that are desirous of the progress of the country through the demonstration of a burning desire to see to the fact that coronavirus impediment is quickly put behind us so that we can resume our everyday lives in the quest for sustainable growth and development.

It is not yet Uhuru as the journey is just beginning in the vaccination journey. However, if the NPHCDA sustains the current tempo, we should be sure of timely vaccination of the entire population in the country.
For us to achieve this, two things are of utmost importance.

One is for the NPCHDA to continue to sensitize the populace on the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness in line with the position of the World Health Organization. And in the words of the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,”

In my opinion, this message must be sustained by the NPHCDA towards ensuring the vaccination programme is not jeopardized by conspiracy theorists who want to capitalize on any given opportunity to cause disaffection in the polity.
Secondly, we must continue to give credit to encourage the leadership of the NPHCDA for their invaluable role it has played so far in ensuring the success story of the vaccination programme in Nigeria, not just for COVID 19, but other immunization and other vaccination programmes in the country.

Dr Shaibu Faisal remains a leader with eyes on the ball and matches words with action since his assumption of office as the head of the critical National Primary Health Care Development Agency in Nigeria. His ideas and thoughts with regards to delivering on the mandate are concise and effective. His leadership acumen is also infectious. And a true definition of what leadership entails and what it should be in the critical point of our existence.

At this point, I would say that indeed those against the success of the coronavirus vaccine in the country have fallen flat on their faces. And like I said earlier, it would be too early to roll out the drums, but we must admit that we are on that steady and desirable path.

And for Dr Shaibu Faisal, your efforts are noble and commendable; I encourage you to continue to devout energy and time to sustain the tempo in service to Nigeria.

Oralu is a public affairs analyst based in Makurdi.

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NEDC and Alkali’s Leadership with a Human Face – By Solomon Audu

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It is no longer news that the Boko Haram crisis in North-East Nigeria has devastated economy of the region, and humanitarian crisis is the order of the day. The North East region of Nigeria is made up of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba States. These states are ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009.

In this violent crime against humanity, people in multiples of millions are adversely affected, about over 5 million persons are Internally Displaced (IDPs), including over 100,000 Nigerian Refugees in neighbouring countries. Casualty rates are in thousands while those alive have lost means of livelihood.

Returning normalcy to the region is one of the topmost priorities of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration. How to end the war, effective handling of the humanitarian crisis and implementation of an effective rehabilitation and resettlement programme, as well as the implementation of a solid peace-building, reconciliation and de-radicalization framework; as well as the effective reconstruction of social and physical infrastructure.

These necessitated the establishment of the North-East Development Commission (NEDC). The objective of the NEDC is to lead the reconstruction and development of the region by consolidating and replacing other initiatives such as the Victims Support Fund (VSF), Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), and Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI).

It is therefore, obvious that the task before NEDC is massive owing to the undeniable wanton destruction. Consequently, load fell on the broad shoulders of Mohammed Alkali.

Before his appointment, Mohammed Alkali was the Executive Director, operations of the Bank of Industry (BoI), he has a first-class honours degree in Accountancy from Bayero University, Kano. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from London School of Economics at the University of London, United Kingdom. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School, Harvard University; the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago; and the Columbia Business School at the Columbia University. These are indeed very intimidating credentials.

However, the interesting aspect of Mohammed Alkali is the fact that he has been a silent achiever, delivering on his mandate with human face and milk of human kindness. He is a gentleman per excellence, and is working assiduously to ensure that the people of the region forget the sorrow and the misfortune Boko Haran terrorism forced on them.

Alkali is kind to a fault, a caring leader with the heart of gold and his love for humanity is unquantifiable. Ne has done so well for his people, lifting the downtrodden through his people oriented programmes and activities. In all, has kept low profile as the managing director of the NEDC.

Stating his silent features in the media wouldn’t have been necessary but for the activities of some mischief makers that attempted to drag him to the murky waters of politics by making some wild and unfounded allegations about his stewardship at the NEDC.

This unassuming individual has since his appointment as the managing director of the NEDC done so much I may wish to mention here. Some of the modest achievements of the NEDC under the leadership of Mohammed Alkali which are driven by his love for humanity and kindness among others are:

The NEDC had been implementing impactful and incremental interventions designed to address most of the immediate challenges bedeviling the North-east states. For instance, the NEDC established a six billion naira Education Endowment Fund to resuscitate the regions devastated education sector and rebuild the human capital to provide an avenue for the engagement of over 20,000 beneficiaries annually to enable them have access to academic and professional capacity development opportunities in various fields.

The NEDC is also implementing the rehabilitation of drinking water and sanitation facilities in states in North-East Nigeria. This project is part of the Multispectral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP) with the support of the World Bank.

The NEDC is also implementing about 1, 310 Rapid Response Intervention in Projects in all the 112 local governments of the North East Region. This is in addition to the implementation of an Integrated Agriculture Programme involving the provision of agricultural machinery and equipment, seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals and extension service logistics vehicles to enhance the production capacity of smallholder farmers in North East and enable them to regain their lost livelihoods.

In my opinion, Mohammed Goni Alkali understands that every single penny allocated to the agency must be used for the benefit of the people. With him, there is no such thing as contract padding as everything must go through due process and must be accounted for. This much has been said about him by staffers who are never in short supply of praises for his leadership style.

From host communities to stakeholders, the story is the same. The song is constant on how Mohammed Goni Alkali is leading a revolution in rebuilding efforts in North-East Nigeria. For example, The Nigerian Senate Committee on Special Duties recently commended the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) for its “outstanding performance” in the area of humanitarian intervention.

The Chairman of Senate Committee on Special Duties, Sen. Yusuf, gave the commendation when he led a delegation on a three-day oversight function to appraise the Commission‘s one-year performance in Maiduguri. He said, “The NEDC is a baby of the federal government; it is just one year, but it has performed tremendously well in the past year; especially in the area of humanitarian intervention.”.

He is also setting the pace in terms of administration as numerous accounts indicate that the NEDC boss has put in place mechanisms that ensure that the agency‘s staffers deliver best results at every given time. In the NEDC, hard work is considered a norm in such a manner that the work atmosphere is always charged due to the level of activities ongoing simultaneously while making sure everything is in the right position.

And the results have been glaring and as well as impressive. I consequently wish to state that this piece is intended to challenge other public office holders towards the entrenchment of transparency in their operations using the NEDC model.

Mohammed Alkali remains my man any day with his passionate approach in the administration of the NEDC. He might not be that loud as others would want him to given his efforts so far. However, one thing you can‘t take away from him is the fact that he knows his onions, and he is passionate about achieving results.

His penchant for results would ultimately translate to laying a solid foundation for an agency as critical as the NEDC. He is also conscious that how well the NEDC performs in the future regarding fulfilling its mandate would be determined by his performance as the pioneer managing director.

It is indeed understandable if some individuals and groups attempt to rubbish the leadership strides of the managing director because of either mischief or ignorance. But whatever be the case it doesn’t change the fact that the NEDC under Mohammed Alkali has lived up to expectation in ways too numerous to mention.

Alkali is an exceptional breed and one that understands the need to serve humanity in sincerity of heart and purpose, and he has brought this to bear in his service delivery. He is at breast with mandates of the commission that it is first an interventionist agency and secondly the fact that the people of North-East Nigeria have suffered indeed enough of the atrocities of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

It is obvious that his critics are probably sad that for once that an individual heading such a sensitive interventionist agency would stand on the side of the people and not a select few. No doubt, the NEDC looks like a cash cow, but the man at the helm of the affairs is not an everyday politician that wouldn’t carry out his mandate effectively.

Truth be told, it was a bad market for the mischief-makers who wanted to demarket him only succeeded marketing him by bringing his tangible achievements into the public space. This is indeed a blessing in disguise, and a reason why Mohammed Alkali must not lose focus because the hawks waiting to devour him are innumerable.

Mohammed Alkali must match his words with action in ensuring that the reconstruction of communities in North-East Nigeria receives the much-needed attention in fulfillment of the mandate of the NEDC.
Mohammed Alkali is indeed a patriotic servant and one that is more than committed to the restoration of normalcy in North-East Nigeria in fulfillment of the strategic objective of the current administration in establishing the NEDC. The case of Mohammed Alkali is indeed the footprints of a patriotic servant that lead with spirit of human kindness, love for humanity and human face.

Audu is a public affairs analyst based in Yola.

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