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Beyond palliatives, Ramadan feeding

Let me begin by recognizing and appreciating the magnanimity of some individuals, organizations, corporate bodies and governments for the provision of palliatives and embracing Ramadan…

Let me begin by recognizing and appreciating the magnanimity of some individuals, organizations, corporate bodies and governments for the provision of palliatives and embracing Ramadan feeding programme aimed at bringing succour to the less privileged and internally displaced persons in the stricken states of the North West and Niger. This is highly commendable.

However, beyond provision of palliatives and feeding of the needy persons during the Ramadan period, what other measures will the governors from the states affected by banditry put in place to ensure that the needy and the vulnerable population could afford to eat three times a day?

The executive governors of Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger, being the states hard hit by the abhorrent activities of these bandits should, however, note that, there is more to their efforts than meets the eye. I do recognize the concerted efforts of the governors of Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states for the establishment of Community Protection Guards to compliment the efforts of other security forces towards ending banditry in the North.

However, I am worried seeing how on daily basis, the urban towns and capital cities of these states and their neighbours do vexatiously witness flocks of impoverished minors, widows and the aged who have been displaced and forced to migrate to these urban cities due to insecurity.

Our governors are also quite aware that, the insecurity brought about by banditry in the North West states and Niger State which led to the displacement of numerous rural communities and depriving them access to their farms and other forms of economic activities, resulted in food shortages which pushed them further into the valley of abject poverty.

I strongly believe that, the governors of the banditry-overwhelmed states are also not unaware of the fact that, there is an appalling hue and cry from the public in view of the economic hardships being faced in these states.

The unmitigated suffering being witnessed under the current political dispensation as a result of removal of fuel subsidy and devaluation of the naira was never bargained for by the masses. The high cost of living has significantly burdened the ordinary citizens in these states.

Beyond the provision of palliatives and Ramadan feeding, there is an urgent need for the governors to institute measures that will improve the economic status and ensure stable food on the tables of the ordinary citizens and the downtrodden masses in their states.

In my opinion, the way forward to cushion the effects of poverty and persistent hardships being faced in the state is to as a matter of necessity and importance, implement certain social and economic empowerment interventions which include but not limited to the following:

Even though, the provision of palliatives has received the blessing of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was full of praises for the timely intervention regarding the N5 billion support for each of the states which was basically to provide food items and agricultural input, most of the governors have complied to some certain extent by distributing food items to the vulnerable groups and Internally Displaced Persons in their states.

There is, however, need for the distribution of these palliatives to be scaled up at the local government levels across the states. More funds should be channeled directly to LGA authorities to ensure increase coverage so that more vulnerable populations are reached.

There is need for the state governors to emulate the Borno State Government in the area of rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of IDPs in order to provide critical lifesaving and sustaining support to those banditry affected populations in their respective states.

It is worrisome to note that, many villages in the affected states have been deserted. As an indigene of Sokoto State who hails from Isa Local Government which is badly affected by banditry, I can give a typical account with sober reflection of how many villages have been deserted in Sokoto East and now in a moribund state.

If one may ask, what is the fate of the displaced children that have dropped out of school? What future awaits these homeless and hopeless children? Would they continue to be homeless? Is it not the responsibility of government to rehabilitate them by giving them shelter, portable drinking water and access to education and health? What future plans and interventions are the state governors putting in place to support these affected population towards reconstruction and resettlement back to their villagers if the bandits are eventually decimated? Doing nothing about them is akin to what the Sultan of Sokoto said, that of leaving Nigeria sitting “on a keg of gunpowder”.

In my thought, there is a serious need for the constitution or establishment of a committee or commission for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of IDPs.

I wish to also advocate the establishment of a development commission that will be charged with the responsibility of assessing, coordinating, harmonizing and reporting on all intervention programmes, and initiatives by the federal government, states; and other development partners and for the implementation of all programmes and initiatives towards the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected populations in these states.

The Bank of Industry and other development banks should contribute a matching fund while the state governments commit counterpart funds and serve as guarantors to the prospective loan beneficiaries who will only repay the principal over an agreed period while the state takes up the responsibility of paying off the interest making it interest-free to the beneficiaries.

The state governments, however, must come up with workable modalities and stiff measures towards the repayment and recovery of the loans.

I also recommend the establishment of agricultural skill acquisition centres in each senatorial zone to improve livestock production in these states. I am of the view that these centres, when established, will go a long way in imparting skills in animal husbandry and poultry farming towards boosting the economic activities of our rural communities.

There is no doubt that these states are sitting on goldmines. These states are blessed with abundant mineral and agricultural potentials that could be tapped and exploited by the governments to enhance the fortunes of their states. The time to exploit these investment and economic potentials is now.

The governors should take the bull by the horns and pursue economically viable investments that will bring about the mobilization of resources for sustainable development in their states.

 

Nasiru Yahaya Isa (Wamban Isa), is a retired Permanent Secretary of the Sokoto State Civil Service [email protected]

 

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