Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Rehabilitate the North East

President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that his government will soon inaugurate a committee for the rehabilitation of the Boko Haram-ravaged North East, Nigeria. This is a good move. Unveiling comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes and projects to restore communities to their pre-war peaceful and productive conditions is what most people in the northeast are expecting from the federal and state governments. 

Furthermore, people of the northeast are hopeful that the committee will have powerful individuals who can use their influence to drive up the rehabilitation process. But the committee should not just be made up of powerful individuals but also people with a passion for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged northeast. President Buhari’s plan to inaugurate such a committee may have been necessitated by some basic rationales- a collective and transparent approach, efficiency, and the opportunity to easily mobilize substantial amount of funds. 

As the military is winning the war, the ideal step to take next is the application of soft approach to winning wars- programmes and projects to tackle the original factors that facilitated the growth of Boko Haram and helped the group in its recruitments and indoctrinations i.e. abject poverty, illiteracy and the absence of employment opportunities in these states.

The proposed committee should coordinate funding and execution of projects and programmes to help in the restoration of basic infrastructure, integration of lives and livelihood of the people, the quick rehabilitation of farm land; the local economy; places of worship, health-centres, bridges, boreholes, schools, etc. Efforts should also be made to create productive employment for the teeming unemployed citizens and those engaged in unproductive-manual jobs. 

Any plans for the Northeast has to be tied to agriculture. Agriculture is the easiest way to touch and re-integrate the people in the region while also quickly rehabilitating the land, the people and the local economy from the 'scars' of Boko Haram’s senseless war. 

The committee, working in tandem with NGOs and states government, should identify the most affected communities, rehabilitate and also provide them with basic infrastructure that was hitherto not available in the communities. For instance, if Madagali in Adamawa state is affected by the war, the committee should work with the Adamawa state government to rebuild Madagali’s schools, water supply, arable land, market, rural electricity, in fact the entire basic infrastructure. 

If this is done, the lack of clear direction most war-torn communities suffer will be completely eliminated. Hundreds of communities can be restored at once, because most of affected communities are compact and reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of a community may not be an expensive project. 

The Borno state governor, Kasim Shettima’s efforts in rebuilding communities through the ministry charged with reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency is an excellent model to copy. 

If communities ravaged by Boko Haram senseless war are reconstructed, rehabilitated and resettled, it will fast track the healing of scars of the war, restore basic infrastructure and local economies, including returning these communities to their pre-war or even better conditions. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Governor Bindow and Cheap Loyalty

What is the loyalty of a state governor worth? This is the question being asked by many observers inside and outside of Adamawa state, after the governor, Muhammad Umaru Jibrilla Bindow revealed that his unalloyed loyalty currently lies with former vice president Atiku Abubakar because of the latter’s 500 million naira donation to his governorship campaign during the 2015 general elections. Political pundits and the lay-man view the acclaimed loyalty from different perspectives. The lay-man sees it from the perspective of the monetary benefit of 500 million naira donation, while political pundits see it as being beyond mere 500 million naira donation.

In retrospection, Governor Bindow won APC governorship primaries solely by relying on former governor Nyako political structures- twice, Bindow beat Atiku’s preferred candidate Yayaji Mijinyawa in the primaries. The Nyako group had to support Bindow during the primaries because they did not have an option, because among all the candidates, it was only Bindow who openly opposed Nyako’s impeachment. On the other hand, Atiku did not show any enthusiasm in support of Nyako. Basically, the APC governorship primary election was a contest between Atiku and Nyako. After all, the duo of Bindow and Yayaji Mijinyawa did not have the capacity to beat people like Boss Mustapha, Dahiru Bobbo and Tahir Mamman.

Despite Bindow’s victory at the polls, former governor Nyako is still pursuing his court case in his attempt to upturn his impeachment by the former Adamawa State House of Assembly. The implication is that, if he wins, he will return as governor and Bindow will automatically lose the governorship seat.

In order to save his political career and governorship seat, Mr. Bindow is left with the only option of relying on Atiku for political structures and guidance including access to Atiku’s legal team. So the main reason for Bindow’s unalloyed loyalty to Atiku is to tap from Atiku legal purses of experience and successes, including the strong political structure.

The implication of Bindow’s publicly declared loyalty to Atiku is the continued political rivalry between Atiku and Nyako. The battle may get fiercer and expand sooner or later as Bindow had made some political miscalculation at the course of forming his government- for instance; the Adamawa chapter of the legacy parties (CPC, ANPP and ACN) that formed the APC were not adequately taken care of in terms of government appointment and patronage.

Atiku’s seeming over-bearing influence on Bindow’s government and the obvious sidelining of Nyako’s men may lead the Nyako group to team with the aggrieved bigwigs of the of legacy parties to fight Bindow. But for the Nyako group to effectively mount a good challenge against Bindow, they need a strong leadership to rally around- probably Senator Abdul-Azeez Nyako. Though, no right-thinking politician can ignore Atiku’s well-established vast political structure, immense war chest and history of successes in political legal battles that easily scares off his opponents. However, Atiku’s decision to support Yayaji Mijinyawa who has least experience and weakest political contacts among Atiku’s political sons and daughters has seriously affected Atiku’s hitherto political family’s cult-like loyalty.

Governor Bindow’s loyalty to Atiku goes beyond the 500 million naira campaign donation, if there was such donation. Governor Bindow’s uncommon loyalty to Atiku is an attempt by the governor to face the Nyako challenges by using Atiku’s many available political and legal structures. However, the common people’s loyalty is the most important weapon Governor Bindow direly needs.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.