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Nigeria: North East Governors Decry Neglect of Region, Demand Capital Projects

Governors of the six North East states in Nigeria have decried the neglect of the region.

Governors of the six North East states have decried the neglect of the region, calling on the federal government to do something urgently to amend obvious abandonment of the region in the siting of capital projects.

The Northeast which comprises of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe states is adjudged to be the least developed in the country, the situation is further compounded by the Boko Haram crisis which have dealt telling developmental blow on it and turn the area to seekers of humanitarian assistance.

Though the almost a decade and a half crisis seems to be waning, but the vestiges of the siege is still much around as poverty pervades the area.

Rising from the 10th meeting of the Northeast Governors’ Forum (NEGF) on Friday in Bauchi, the six governors under the leadership of Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum issued a 12-point communique.

One of the major points of the communique is the forum reiterating its concern “over the seeming neglect of the Northeast in the allocation of Federal Government Capital Projects. It noted with dismay that despite its cry for attention on the state of infrastructure in the region which has been consistently echoed in all its communique over the years, especially the poor road and railway infrastructure along the economic corridors that link the northeast subregion to the rest of the country, nothing serious seems to be happening.”

The Forum decried that the roads from Enugu to Maiduguri are in a deplorable state, and the railway from Enugu to Maiduguri has been destroyed, noting that: “This is a major route for regional trade and is very important for integration, peace-building and improving national unity.”

The governors alleged that the Northeast region is also not included in the National Infrastructure Plan for the transition from PMS to Compressed Gas, calling on the Federal Government to look into the situation and consider the reconstruction of these basic infrastructure along the Enugu-Maiduguri Economic Corridor and the inclusion of Northeast in all National Development Plans and initiatives.

The Forum also noted with dismay the blackout experienced by the region over the last one month and the nonchalant attitude exhibited by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in addressing this issue of national importance for the security and development of the country. It started that it is watching keenly the commitment made by TCN to restore power to all the states of the region by 27th of May, 2024, asking the Federal Government to direct TCN to take immediate action, while noting that it has in the short term, plan to set up a solar power plant that can generate a minimum of 10 Megawatts per state.

The Forum also complained that the northeast is the only region in Nigeria that has one transmission line supplying six states with a land mass of nearly 300,000 square kilometres and a population of over 35 million people, stressing that this has made the region the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged for industrial development and economic growth, with over 70% of its population below 35 years of age.

The governors called on the Minister of Power and indeed the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to implement the extension of the 330KV transmission line from Makurdi – Gassol – Jalingo linking to Adamawa – Gombe – Bauchi and the extension of the 330KV line from Kano- Bauchi- Yobe, linking to Borno.

The Forum however resolved to maximise the existing hydropower generated in Kashimbilla and Dadin Kowa dam which the region has not been benefitting from because the Ministry of Power has failed to extend the 330KV line of Makurdi – Gassol- Jalingo line.

It also noted that climate change and environmental degradation remain a reality in the region, while appreciating the various member states for the policies they are putting in place to reclaim the environment, it called for a more sustained and coordinated regional onslaught to reverse the speed of desertification in the region.

The Forum charged the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) to be consultative in its dealings, operation and project prioritization, it emphasized the need for the NEDC to work with the states in the region for Energy Development to unlock the energy potentials of the region and lessen the energy paucity burden of the people.

While identifying that the world is passing through a horrific food security crisis, especially with the war in Ukraine, climate change and poor agricultural practices, member states resolved to continue to invest in agriculture value chain and encourage the transformation of subsistence farming into SMEs, stating that the member states will support the procurement of improved drought-resistant and short-maturation seedlings, subsidise fertilizers and ensure that the region specialises in the production of such seeds.

The Forum also resolved to partner with OCP Africa to support Agriculture in the region and reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the partnership of member states with UNICEF on investing in sustainability for improved Water and Sanitation Coverage (WASH) in the area.

It resolved to hold the 11th meeting of the Forum in Damaturu, Yobe State, between 30th-31st August, 2024.
Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

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