From Ahmad SAKA, Bauchi
The North-East Development Commission (NEDC) is set to commence the construction of 500 housing units in Bauchi state in continuation of its infrastructure rebuilding process in the North-East subregion ravaged by insurgency.
Information made available to journalists in Bauchi indicated that the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of the houses will be performed on Thursday in Bauchi by the State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed to be assisted by the Managing Director and CEO of NEDC, Mohammed Goni Alkali.
In addition, there will also be flagging off of the distribution of food and non-food items to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are presently taking refuge in Bauchi State.
On the flag-off of the distribution of food and non-food items, the issue of imminent food insecurity in the region had been a matter of discourse for a long time, the Goni Alkali led NEDC has handed-over, bags of rice (25kg) 12,000 gallons of vegetable oil, 10,000 bags of sugar, 2,000, cartons of spaghetti, 3,000 cartons of macaroni and donated non-food items including blankets PCS 2,000 (Pcs), mats 2,000 (Pcs), mosquito nets, 2,000 (Pcs) and mosquito hand band, 10,000 (Pcs) for distribution.
The NEDC under Goni Alkali will also visit two historic roads that have defied previous administrations which will be constructed by the Commission in Bauchi State including the Alkaleri – Futuk road in Alkaleri LGA and Alkaleri -Kirfi- to Gombe Abba road in Kirfi LGA.
While in Bauchi, NEDC will inspect ongoing construction of Soro cattle market in Ganjuwa LGA and Fistula Hospital in Ningi.
Meanwhile, the Northeast Youths and Elders Peoples Forum has commended the efforts of the NEDC in rebuilding the devastated infrastructure across the North-East subregion ravaged by insurgency in the last 15 years.
The NorthEast Forum for Youth and Elders in a press release issued by its National President, Alhaji Salihu Magaji said that, “Everybody in the subregion has confidence in the ability of the leadership of the Commission under the current board and management as remain focused and committed to ensuring the achievement of its mandate of rebuilding and developing the zone”
The Forum stated that the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) was established to address developmental challenges in the North East subregion and to restore means of livelihood of the people, following the effects of over 12 years-long insurgencies as a result of activities of Boko Haram in the region .
It stated that the effects of insurgency led to a massive influx of people into the urban areas with most of them taking shelter at any available public spaces, homes, schools, huts, abandoned and uncompleted buildings, while many trooped to neighboring North Eastern states just as hundreds settled in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the states.
It observed that when the Commission was established, part of its mandate included rehabilitation and reconstruction of destroyed homes and commercial premises of citizens in the region.
Investigations by experts revealed that the stock of houses in the North Eastern states before the insurgency was about 4 million, out of which over 500,000 structures (houses and commercial premises) were destroyed or irreparably damaged, which even before the insurgency, there was a housing deficit in all the states of the region.
Therefore, the insurgency only further aggravated the situation while in all of this, Borno State being the epicentre of the crisis is worst affected with the largest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the Forum disclosed.
According to the Forum, “in 2019, because of the confidence he has on Dr Alkali President, Muhammadu Buhari approved a special Presidential intervention in Borno State (SPIB) in order to reduce the desperate situation that displaced communities in the state had found themselves through the construction of 10,000 houses and the establishment of Technical and Vocational Skills Acquisition Centres for the IDPs amongst others”.
Also approved was the execution of the SPIB, which was resolved that the NEDC undertakes the construction of the first 1,000 houses and fully fund the equipping of the Technical and Vocational/Skills Centres around the state.
The first 1,000 houses were executed at Ngowom, Mafa Local Government of Borno State and handed over to the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum.
The NEDC also delivered a town with all social amenities, all in the efforts of the Commission to reflect on its mandate, and the decision to replicate same in the other five states of the region by the construction of 500 houses in each state.
The Forum further said that started the construction of 500 houses to other states in the North East was strated with Yobe where the groundbreaking was performed with the building of 250 houses; in Damaturu, 50 in Buni Yadi, 50 in Geidam, 50 in Potiskum, 50 in Gashua, and 50 in Nguru.
According to the Forum, the type of houses the NEDC is building are of the cluster block style which consists of blocks of four units of 2-bedroom bungalows with veranda and courtyard, each block sits on four hundred square meters, with a fence separating each twin-facing houses, covered kitchens and toilets/bathrooms, and ample space for home living activities, adding that the facilities would also be provided with street lights, reticulated water supply system, commercial spaces among others
The Forum stated that, “We have observed that not only NEDC Model Mass Housing he is constructing in Yobe , there will be Mega Schools, the Gujba-Ngalda road project and graduation of the third batch of ICT trainees” .
The NEDC also embarked on the construction of MEGA schools with the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of education sector infrastructure to redress the high deficit in classroom blocks in both primary and secondary schools throughout the North-East subregion.
This deficit according to the Forum has meant that the region is the part of the country with the lowest literacy rate and highest poverty index in the country taking into consideration that Low literacy and high poverty are recognized by experts to be among the root causes of the violent insurgency that bedevilled the region for twelve years and the situation was further exacerbated by the large-scale destruction of schools and losses in the lives of youths, teachers, students.
The NEDC was said to have studied the effects of the destruction of schools, especially where they have not been rehabilitated throughout the decade of insurgency, which resulted in the truncation of the education of primary and secondary school students, and even where schools remained standing, widespread poverty coupled with insecurity rendered an estimated 600,000 young people unable to go beyond the primary or secondary school levels.
As such, millions of the out of school children in the region remain uneducated, justifying the need for massive intervention in the development of school infrastructure.
The NEDC then resolved to construct three Composite Mega Schools or upgrade existing ones in each state of the region, thus making eighteen, one in each of the Senatorial District and will also compliment the physical structure with soft support like teachers’ training, curriculum upgrade.
In the area of ICT training in the region, NEDC trained 2,400 youths in 2 batches across the six states and donated equipped infectious Diseases Laboratory for the testing of COVID – 19 and other diseases which were commissioned in Yobe, Bauchi and Taraba states while Adamawa and Gombe states will be done soon.