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North – East: Group Scores NEDC High On Good Governance Index, Accountability

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The North East Development Commission (NEDC) has been rated high for entrenching transparency, good governance and accountability in its operations.

The National Accountability Watch Group (NAWG) said it came to this conclusion after a strategic assessment of NEDC’s operations.

In an interim report signed by its Executive Director, Dr Okpe Joseph Okpe, on Monday, the group lauded managing director, Mohammed Alkali for ensuring that the commission fulfils its madate to Nigerians.

Among others, the NAWG noted that under Alkali, the agency has achieved quality leadership, impacted the economy, formulated and implemented programmes and focused on relevant interventions.

Established in 2019, the commission was given the task of  assessing, coordinating, harmonizing, reporting as well as implementing all intervention programmes in the North-East region.

And according to the group, the Alkali-led agency has so far exceeded its mandate, ensuring that the reconstruction and development of the economy of the region remains a top priority.

The NAWG further applauded the  management of the NEDC for displaying unalloyed commitment towards fulfilling the mandate of the NEDC in ways too numerous.

The National Accountability Watch Group, however, urged all relevant stakeholders to extend support to the NEDC in critical areas of intervention.

Read full report below:

Introduction:

The impact of the Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria has had negative consequences on the social and economic life in the region. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and properties worth billions of Naira destroyed. The question thus was how to mitigate the impact of the insurgency and this consequently led to the establishment of the North East Development Commission to lead the reconstruction and development of Nigeria’s northeast.

It is also charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonize and report on all intervention programs, and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), States; and other Development Partners and for the implementation of all programs and initiatives for the North East states; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, respectively.

Since 2019 when the North East Development Commission commenced operations, it has been reported in some quarters that the NEDC has been proactive in addressing the issues in North-East Nigeria, while in some quarters, it was also stated that the NEDC has not lived up to expectation.

Thus the need to interrogate the operations of the NEDC prompted the National Accountability Watch Group to undertake a strategic assessment study on the operations of the NEDC from 2019 till date towards putting issues in proper perspectives with regards to fulfilling its mandate of leading the reconstruction and development of North-East Nigeria.

Governance Indices:

The assessment dwelled on six governance indicators:

Quality of Leadership

Impact on the economy of North-East Nigeria

Programmes formulation and implementation

Transparency and accountability

Relevance of interventions

Blueprint for development

Quality of Leadership:

The National Accountability Watch Group examined the quality of leadership provided by the NEDC management team led by the managing director, Mohammed Alkali. It also scrutinized the leadership drive by the management team towards achieving the strategic mandate of the NEDC.

After extensive assessment, it was discovered that the management team of the NEDC led by its managing director, Mohammed Alkali has been outstanding in the discharge of their responsibilities. The composition of the management team speaks volumes of round pegs in round holes and this has translated to the entrenchment of synergy amongst the various departments at the NEDC.

An extensive study of the leadership provided by the NEDC over the two-year period it has been in operation speaks volumes of a management team with eyes on the ball in delivering the mandate of the commission towards addressing the developmental challenges in North-East Nigeria occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.

It was also discovered that the management team of the NEDC consist of individuals that are passionate about service and this much has been seen in the work ethics, programmes formulation, and implementation at the NEDC.

The managing director, Mohammed Alkali has been reputed to have been providing sound leadership direction for the NEDC through the introduction and implementation of sound programmes that have been impactful on the socio-economic life of North-East Nigeria.

Impact on the economy of North-East Nigeria

The impact of the various intervention of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria was assessed using key indicators on governance. It was realized that in two years the NEDC has been impactful in the economy of North-East Nigeria, which has received commendations from wide and far.

An example of the impact on the NEDC in the economy of North-East Nigeria is the setting up of an Education Endowment Fund worth N6billion aimed at resuscitating the region’s devastating education sector and rebuild human capital.

The Fund provides an avenue for the engagement of over 20,000 beneficiaries across the region annually. The fund provides scholarships and training while also building infrastructures in the sector. It was discovered that under this initiative hundreds of thousands have benefited and are making the required impact in North-East Nigeria. This is amongst a host of other notable interventions.

It was also discovered that the NEDC has also assisted tremendously in the resettlement of displaced persons back to their communities through the creation and provision of basic amenities required for normal life in communities that were affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Programmes formulation and implementation

The various programmes formulated by the NEDC were also scrutinized. It was discovered that the NEDC has instituted various programmes that are suited to bring about meaningful development in North-East Nigeria. This much are visible various infrastructural developments with the NEDC imprints that dot the nook and crannies of North-East Nigeria.

The NEDC has also been credited to have introduced programmes with a direct impact on the lives of citizens of North-East Nigeria, and this has largely contributed to the reconstruction efforts in the region.

The NEDC also launched the first phase of Mine Risk Awareness Training under the NEDC Mines Risk Education Project for Local Government Areas in the Northeast. It was also discovered that the NEDC also has in place an ICT resource training programme for youths from states in North-East Nigeria, which has been impactful and given the youths a new lease of life. This is aside from other programmes that have been introduced that have made a meaningful impact in North-East Nigeria.

The NEDC also initiated programmes that mitigated the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic in states in North-East Nigeria.

Transparency and accountability:

In assessing the impact of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria, it was discovered that there has been an entrenchment of transparency and accountability in its operations. This much was evident in the implementation of policies and programmes across the states in North-East Nigeria.

This has also led to the effective utilization of resources in the even distribution of available resources amongst the various states in North-East Nigeria in terms of infrastructural development and provision of humanitarian support to affected communities in North-East Nigeria. There is also a regime of probity in the implementation of the various programmes initiated by the NEDC in North-East Nigeria.

Relevance of interventions

The relevance of the various interventions of the programmes of the NEDC in North-East Nigeria has been acknowledged by stakeholders in North-East Nigeria. The assessment of the various interventions revealed that the NEDC did understudy the immediate, short-term, and long-term needs of the region and consequently introduced interventions that have had a meaningful impact on the socio-economic life in North-East Nigeria.

Blueprint for development

The blueprint for the reconstruction and development of North-East Nigeria by the NEDC speaks volumes of its strategic mandate of leading the reconstruction and development of Nigeria’s northeast. This has made great strides in retaking and stabilizing large portions of the North-East.

Conclusion:

The National Accountability Watch Group as a result of this strategic assessment of the operations of the NEDC since incorporations concludes that the NEDC management led by the managing director has lived up to expectations within a short period through the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in its operations. This is indeed laudable and we wish to state that with the programmes and policies of the NEDC, the task of reconstructing and developing the economy of North-East Nigeria remains a top priority of NEDC.

The management of the NEDC has displayed an unalloyed commitment towards fulfilling the mandate of the NEDC in ways too numerous to mention.

Recommendation:

The National Accountability Watch Group as a result of the above stated recommends the following towards boosting the operations of the NEDC: That the relevant stakeholders in North-East Nigeria must extend their support to the NEDC management in critical areas of intervention

That the NEDC management must ensure that it introduces policies that have short, medium, and long term impact in North-East Nigeria

That the NEDC management must continue to engage the media constituency in projecting its various interventionist programmes in North-East Nigeria.

That the political leadership in states in North-East Nigeria must see the NEDC as worthy partners rather than rivals

That the NEDC must not lose sight of the bigger picture in ensuring it continues to churn our programmes and policies that address the needs of North-East Nigeria towards achieving its strategic action plan for the reconstruction and development of the economy of North-East Nigeria.

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Bandits Lay Siege To Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Jaji

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Some criminals, suspected to be bandits, are currently laying siege around the premises of Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) located in Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Their mission, according to some locals in the community who spoke to our correspondent during a telephone conversation, was to abduct some staff of the college and the communities around the area.

This is coming in less than two months after bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Mando, also in Kaduna and kidnapped no fewer than 39 students.

AFCSC is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy.

A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Adamu, told Daily Trust via telephone that the bandits have always surrounded the institution while terrorising the communities around the college.

“It is only Allah that has been saving us. They (bandits) have always rustled cows in our communities. Military operatives do engage them in gun battle anytime they come around, that is why we don’t have major casualties yet,” Adamu said.

The Commandant of the college, Air Marshal Olayinka Alade, confirmed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Army Headquarters to brief Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, on the development and other issues in the institution.

Alade said the institution has decided to launch impromptu searching and clearance operations in some communities where the bandits are operating around the college having informed General Officer Commanding 1 Division.

“There are some communities around the school that have developed and because it is like part of the college, maybe they are hiding under that cover, so some bandits are there. Because of that, there is collaboration with other institution’s heads in the college. Constantly, we try to conduct an impromptu searching. We conduct search and patrol from time to time.

“What we discovered now is that, not too far ahead, some communities… it is like all these bandits have made all that place their aim, so I discussed with GOC 1 Div. From time to time, we need to carry out clearance operations,” the AFCSC Commandant said.

The Commandant further disclosed that the bandits rustled some cows behind the college on Tuesday, April 13 – a development that led to gun duel between them and the military operatives.

He, however, did not disclose whether there was any casualty, noting that he came to brief the COAS so as not to be surprised if he hears anything subsequently.

According to him, “In fact, yesterday (Tuesday), I was told that some bandits came to come and rustle some cows just behind us. There was an exercise that was carried out by the NACI. They actually encountered these bandits, they had to exchange fire during the exercise.

“Those are the things we’re trying to ensure that we are not surprised if they have come that close, then, we need to sit tight and ensure we clear that place.”

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$1bn Arms Procurement: Clear Your Name Now, Coalition Charges Defence Minister

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The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) has called on the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, to clear his name from the controversial purchase of security equipment.

The group noted that Magashi must explain how his ministry expended the $1billion approved by the Federal Government in April 2018.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, national coordinator, Timothy Charles, described the minister’s silence as “unholy” and an “embarrassment” to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Charles said the group is alarmed that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim is carrying out acts to shield the minister.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice, therefore, advised the COAS to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

The group also urged all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the minister comes out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.

While absorbing the former service chiefs of any involvement, the Coalition for Truth and Justice added that Magashi must come clean for Nigerians to take the FG more seriously in its quest to address the security challenges in the country.

Read the full statement below:

The Coalition for Truth and Justice, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria dedicated to the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria, welcomes you all to this important press conference that is intended to address some of the pertinent issues that have surrounded the $1 billion released for the purchase of arms in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities across the country.

We must agree that these issues are of great importance to the well-being of the country at large, given the country’s security challenges in recent times as well as the government’s efforts in addressing these challenges.

It is common knowledge that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had in April 2018 approved the release of $1 billion to Nigerian Defence authorities for the purchase of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.

Thus, it is pertinent to state that since the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, arms purchases have been domiciled with the Ministry of Defence and not individual services as erroneously projected in the public space.

It is also succinct to state that the Honorable Minister of Defence, who is in charge of the Ministry of Defence, should provide answers to questions surrounding arms purchase in the country. It is thus despicable that there has been some well-orchestrated attempt by some vested interest to divert attention from the Minister of Defence.

We are constrained to add that the statement credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, during his appearance before the House of Representatives is diversionary and an indication that he is carrying out the whims and caprices of the Honorable Minister of Defence.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice views the recent happenings as a sad development in the sense that as a high ranking officer of the Nigerian Army and one who is conversant with the operational procedures in the Nigerian Military would elect to feign ignorance to an issue as sensitive as arms purchase in the prosecution of the war against terrorism in the country.

We are aware that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for arms purchases and the unholy silence of the Honorable Minister of Defence in this regard leaves many questions unanswered. This is also an embarrassment of unimaginable proportion to the Muhammadu Buhari administration that the Honourable Minister of Defence cannot articulate a response to the questions surrounding the monies meant for arms purchase.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice uses this medium to call on the Honorable Minister to come out clear by providing the much-needed information surrounding the $1billion released to purchase arms.

If this is not the case, we then wonder why the Honorable Minister of Defence has elected to play to the gallery in a case as sensitive as this. More alarming is that the Chief of Army Staff has been carrying out acts that aim to shield the Honorable Minister of Defence.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice frowns at such display and wishes to advise the Chief of Army Staff to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

We are constrained to add that if the Chief of Army Staff who has barely spent months in office would not be bold enough to call a spade a spade, we are afraid that his ability to lead the prestigious Nigerian Army is indeed questionable.

It is also curious that the Chief of Army Staff could ask that the past service chief be invited to answer questions on arms procurement during their tenures. This is indeed an anomaly that all well-meaning Nigerians must resist.

This also goes to the Honorable Minister of Defence, who, by his actions, has displayed that he does not have a grasp of the operational strategies of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is our considered opinion that the Honorable Minister of Defence must, as a matter of necessity and urgency, provide the general public details on how the $1billion was expended under his watch in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the Honorable Minister of Defence come out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.

Therefore, it would be inexcusable for the Honorable Minister of Defence to continue to shy away from his responsibilities by pushing a distractive narrative in the public space. And not until this is done, the government’s seriousness in the prosecution of the war against terrorism would always be called to question.

The general public must also be aware that the former service chiefs were never involved in arms procurement and must do good to ignore the well-orchestrated campaign in this regard. Consequently, the Honorable Minister of Defence must come out to clear the air if we are indeed serious in addressing the security challenges in the country.

This is the position of the Coalition for Truth and Justice as critical stakeholders in the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria.

We thank you for your time and charge all present to take this message to their various constituencies.

God bless Nigeria.

God bless the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

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UK Group Task Ibomites to Support Their Leaders

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The people of Akwa-Ibom state have been urged to celebrate their own rather than castigating leaders who have sacrificed for the development of their region.

The president General, Global Peace Movement International UK, Dr. Mike Uyi made this declaration in a statement on Thursday in London.

According to him, the people of Akwa-Ibom should see themselves as a region in Nigeria that are lucky to have a leader like the former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio now minister of Niger Delta.

He said, “People of Akwa-Ibom state should learn to celebrate what they have. For any reason whatsoever, Sen. Godswill Akpabio is a palm tree, an iroko which is known by every native and international farmer”.

“Akpabio is tested and trusted. As commissioner, Governor, Senator, now a minister of Niger Delta, he performed excellently and still have outstanding performance among his minister counterparts. So, why attack him?”.

Uyi said assessing Akpabio’s political journey so far, one will not be wrong to call Akpabio a successful politician because of his antecedents.

“If not for anything else, he puts Akwa-Ibom state in the Guinness book of record. The state or region is currently enjoying what Akpabio left on the ground”.

“Global Peace Movement International UK is saying clearly that the future of Nigeria is in Akwa-Ibom”.

Dr. Uyi said Akpabio’s progressive portfolio has added a label (GSM) to his personality. The label GSM stands for: Governor (G), Senator (S) and Minister (M).

“His starling performance can not be compared to any in the history of democracy in Nigeria and in Akwa-Ibom state since the creation of the state”.

Uyi further stated that Akpabio has long transcended state or regional barriers. “His sole motivation has been raising the standards of living of Nigerians, promoting the good image of the country and empowering ordinary citizens of Nigeria to not only pursue their dreams but more importantly in providing them with the means to achieve these dreams”.

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