North-east on throes of accelerated development through NEDC

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It’s a new dawn for the North-east region as NEDC is up against under-development. SADIQ ABUBAKAR reports. 

The North East Development Commission (NEDC) is saddled  with the responsibilities to, among other things,  develop and transform the six states of the region affected by humanitarian crisis arising from Boko Haram insurgency. 

It is also to boost security infrastructure and sustainability  through collaborations  with relevant stakeholders and government towards peace-building and succour to the people of the region, especially rural farmers,  fishermen and other victims of the crisis.

This no doubt informed moves by NEDC to initiate and execute  22.5 kilometres bowl road project in Jere and Mafa LGAs of Borno state in order to facilitate the transportation of agricultural produces within and out of the famous Zabarmari -Kwashebe-Gongolun-MaiDuguri axis purposely to boost  quality rice production and transportation to village markets, Maiduguri and other axis.

It would be recalled that the Paul Tarda-led NEDC board, management and staff under Alhaji Mohammed Goni Akai awarded a 22.5km road projects  worth billions of naira in conjunction with Borno state government and other critical stakeholders in the state. They  identified the 22.5 Km Ngowom – Koshebe and Ngowom – Dusman – Zabarmari – Gongulong  –Khaddarmari Road among others for urgent construction due to the area’s  vital role in rice production. 

The new road is expected to stimulate economic activities, enhance  security and facilitate the free movement of goods and people in the popularly known ‘Jere-Bowl’ of the state. This is Phase 1 of the road. A 2nd phase is also in the pipeline and has three segments like the 10.5Km (Galameri) Ngowom–Koshebe 3.5km Ngowom– Dusman 8.5Km and others. 

These road networks will bring several benefits, such as enhanced connectivity  towards facilitating smoother transportation. 

The NEDC imitative  and efforts is also aimed at improving roads that can boost trade and commerce by enabling the efficient movement of goods and services as well as  social development: to upgrade  the road networks, enhance social interactions, promote tourism and improve overall quality of life for residents of those areas. 

The roads, if well-maintained, would enable faster emergency services by humanitarian and development partners,  governments towards ensuring timely assistance  to the people of the areas during critical and emergency situations.  

It is also pertinent to note that the construction of these roads would greatly enhance agricultural development. 

The improved road infrastructure can further  support the transportation of agricultural produces in other parts of the country as the benefiting farmers will extensively expand their scope of farmlands to feed  the local economy. 

Also, the usual cultural sustainability of social visitations and sharing of cultural values and norms with neighbouring villages and towns would be enhanced unlike what existed in the days Boko Haram insurgents held sway with killings and destruction of property including livestock.  

Definitely, the roads network will impact the people, environment and governments of  the areas in many ways. 

Due to the importance and successful flag off of the road projects, the Managing Director/CEO, Mohammed Alkaili could not hide his excitement when he warmly appreciated  the vice president, Senator Kashim Shettima, the governors, members of the national and state assemblies present, ministers, security chiefs, traditional rulers and other dignitaries to the ground-breaking ceremony on Saturday, September 9 2023 at Mgom Village, an outskirt of Maiduguri. 

Again, one interesting and impressive thing is  that the  fishermen, farmers and villagers who are mostly  vulnerable and less privileged are the direct beneficiaries  of the road project where  some   expressed their delight, happiness,  gratitude as well as relief from insecurity. 

Beneficiaries respond

Alhaji Adamu Inuwa, a resident and farmer of Zabarmari village said, “We will now live a better life and farm very well more than what we used to produce in the past now that we have good roads.

“We can say we have  link now with each other as the roads project has been provided to us across most of our villages, linking our farmlands and neighbouring villages for socio economic activities and festivities among others unlike before.

“We will forever live to remember NEDC in its quest to sustain the existing peace and development of our place including the provision of livelihood support to the people.” 

Buba Jidda, a resident of Gongolun village and great farmer said, “NEDC has indeed and surprisingly  blown its trumpets in the history of road network in our area  by flagging off these gigantic  roads construction project.

“The commission has made history of which previous governments in the last 30 years could not achieve despite the revenues and other benefits government derive from the areas blessed with fertile land  for rice and grains  production and sea tributaries for fishery and livestock farming as well grazing.” 

Due to the importance and great  impact derived from the road network project, the vice president, Senator Kashim Shettima performed the ground-breaking to launch the road network with the hope that similar and other road network projects will be executed in other states of the North east afterwards.  

The ground-breaking ceremony was also witnessed by the state governors of the North east states like Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba and Bauchi like, National Assembly and state assembly members from the region, chiefs, humanitarian and development partners and other collaborating bodies.

Being the first kind of  gigantic road network project ever executed by NEDC in the region since it’s inauguration despite plans and intention to carry out such project in the past, the management of the commission gladly  planned to accomplish the road construction  this year as it begins the new phase with zeal and confident to make history.

NEDC has its chains of mandates and areas of coverage on peace building, urban and rural transformation, health,  poverty alleviation, education, ICT, skills acquisition, job creation, youths and women empowerment, rehabilitation of destroyed  health, educational, public or government facilities and amenities, access roads and other infrastructures. The boldness to seize  the bull by the horn is  unique and the impact is tremendous if the mission is accomplished.

It will be recalled that since the creation of the North East Province and subsequent state creation, this is the first time in history that bowl road network is being constructed to link up these areas for enhanced socio.econmic activities  worth  billions of naira.  

Similarly, it is also on record that other state capitals of the six states of the North east region will also benefit from the road network project in future as plans are underway to carry similar project across the entire region as part of the development efforts of the commission in meeting up with its mandate of rehabilitation,   transformation and development  of the ravaged area leading to humanitarian crisis that consumed the region for over a decade. 

More district heads speak

The District Head of Mafa, Prince Abba Kaduna Abubakar Garbai in an interview with journalists  during the ceremony expressed gratitude  and appreciation to the vice president and Managing Director of NEDC as well as Borno state governor and the contractor  Eighth Engineering Company (EEC) for the road construction.

He also called on the government to come to the aid of the rural farmers with pesticides and fertilizers especially insecticides against ravaging birds  that annually destroy farm crops and grains in the areas.

Malam Muhammad  Zabarmari, a renowned rice farmer and seller said, “Wallahi. We are highly impressed and delighted with this development which for long was not forthcoming but today it is a reality on ground that we now have good and tarred roads circling our places/settlements  and farmlands.

“You know we the villagers and famous  rice farmers and fishermen have no other occupation than these occupations and we cherish our occupations very well because we have fertile land that do not need fertilizer  annually.  It is a marshy area or riverine area where people and visitors frequent us for food and fish,” Muhammad said.

Adamu Sanusi, a seasoned fisherman and seller and a resident of Zabarmari village told Blueprint that, “Today, our major problem which has been truncating our efforts to farm large quantities of rice and fish both during the raining and dry seasons has been addressed which is access roads to link all these our places like neighbouring villages, farmlands and even Maiduguri city.”

“With these roads construction project, our communications, busineses and .social interactions with the outside world, people and others will now increase and improve our livelihoods, farming activities and other socio economic and political activities unlike in the past,” Adamu said.

Fatima  Bukar, a grocery seller and resident of Gongolun, said, “With the road network, you know very well that we can now reach out to our people  far and near easily unlike in the past when we were caged and left in the hands of the boko haram insurgents attacking and killing us anytime and how they wished.

“Even  our neighbours nearby cannot easily visit us or observe  local market days to trade our goods but today with these roads, we are good to go.   

“Visitors will now have good  access road to come for businesses and visitations with us and our trade will improve as well as our livestocks, grains rice and fish businesses. 

“They will now be able  transverse and reach our places smoothly and easily  for fish, food, grains, wheats, rice and even livestock with which they do always come to buy. If not for the inaccessibility, flooding and Boko Haram threats from time to time when we are in the farm or fishing in the past.,” Fatima said.

Interestingly, similar road Nnetwork projects are being proposed and mapped out for construction by NEDC in Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba and Yobe states to ease movements of people and goods as well as transportation of farm produce and livestocks in the region.