The Federal Government recently came out with a comprehensive National Emergency Relief Programme for the country, beginning with the North-East region, where the Boko Haram insurgency has taken a devastating toll on human lives and property. We commend the government’s bold effort.
Unveiling the programme in Abuja on June 17, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, explained that the programme has a three-window structure, made up of the Emergency Relief Window, Reconstruction/Rehabilitation Window, and Safe Schools’ Window. Those that witnessed the launch of this laudable initiative include former British Prime Minister, and United Nations Special Envoy on Education, Mr. Gordon Brown, Governors of Borno and Yobe States, Alhaji Kashim Shettima and Ibrahim Geidam, as well as the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NAMA), Alhaji Sani Sidi.
According to the minister, the Emergency Relief Window will support the rapid and immediate deployment of relief assistance to the affected communities and households. This, she pointed out, will include evacuation and temporary accommodation, provision of water, food, medicare, and cash transfer programmes.
Another important link in the three-pronged programme is the Reconstruction/Rehabilitation Window aimed at establishing support programmes such as public works to repair dilapidated infrastructure (rural roads and bridges) as well as provision of temporary employment for youths.
The programme’s Safe Schools’ Window would focus on education through the upgrading of existing federal, state and local government schools to make them more secure through proper fencing, alarm systems, school guards and other measures. This programme will include the introduction of modern and environmentally-sustainable systems like solar power which will ensure that the schools are well lit.
It is good that the National Emergency Relief Programme will start with the North-East states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa which are under state of emergency and where the insurgency is fierce. The new initiative which is a forward-looking approach shows that the federal government is beginning to think of the future in its ongoing war against the Boko Haram insurgents in the country.
Now that government has come out with this well-thought out programme, it should not be prosecuted with the usual fire brigade approach. The interest of the citizens should be uppermost in government’s mind. Let the programme be executed by honest men and women who would think of the wellbeing of all and the travails of the suffering individuals, groups and families in the affected states. Such people must be carefully chosen and subjected to periodical checks as the work progresses.
It is also interesting to note that the federal government has committed the sum of N1.65 billion to the Safe Schools’ initiative to boost the effort of the business leaders who had earlier donated $10 million to the project. The initial target of the Safe Schools’ project is put at $100 million (N165 billion).
We call on the governors of the affected three North-East states to cooperate with the federal government for the successful take-off and execution of this laudable project aimed at ameliorating the suffering of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the region.
Though this project is long overdue, it is better late than never. After its successful take–off in the North-East’s troubled states, it should be extended to other states that have similar needs since it is a national emergency relief programme.
The Safe Schools’ component of the programme must ensure that schools in the troubled states are safeguarded so that displaced children will be brought back to schools. All damaged schools should also be reconstructed and rehabilitated. Let this good idea from the government be properly executed and managed. Beyond these interventionist programmes, government should also intensify efforts on the war against the insurgents. There is the need to add more verve and impetus to the war on terror in the country and rein in the insurgents.