By Justina Auta and Sumaila Ogbaje
The Northeast Civil Society Network, an NGO, has tasked the Federal Government and the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) to fund humanitarian and development needs in the region.
The call was made on Friday at a one-day retreat for CSOs, government agencies, humanitarian actors and relevant stakeholders in Abuja.
The theme of the event is: “Developing Civil Society Agenda.”
Mr Ahmed Shehu, Chairman of the Forum, said the retreat was to restrategise towards promoting peace, development and security, as well as appropriate avenues for advocacy in the region.
”Considering the shrinking in funding and donor fatigue there is urgent need for the federal and state government, NEDC to take leadership role in coordination, funding and support humanitarian and development need in the Region,” he said.
Shehu acknowledged that the military operations in the region had improved security situation and access to some communities.
He noted that perimeter restrictions in area of returns need to be regularly reviewed to create an enabling environment for the affected population in pursuit of livelihoods and building resilience.
He also said that the processes of Deradicalisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) Borno Model should be all-inclusive and emphasise on healing and empowerment of victims.
According to him, the forum has intensified advocacy and constructive engagement between citizens and governments at all levels to ensure effective service delivery.
“This we believe will go a long way towards early warning, early response to crisis and curbing the trust deficit that is gradually widening by the day,” he added.
He also called on the governors to develop a regional peace, stabilisation, and development strategy to approach the peculiar challenges within the region.
Shehu also urged the NEDC to support the states by embarking on pro-poor and community-driven development projects, programs and set up a civil society liaison desk to fast track development in the region.
He urged government to invest in basic education, empower women and men towards building peace, empowering vulnerable groups and mitigate the chances of recruitment into violent extremism.
The chairman also advocated for increased budget line for nutrition to enhance the opportunity for preventing severe acute malnutrition and its consequences within the region.
Also UN Resident Coordinator to Nigeria, Mathias Schmale, reiterated supports to peace, development in the region and country at large, particularly for women, girls and the vulnerable.
”So if we want to deliver a relevant action to vulnerable people in the northeast and all of Nigeria, the role of local organizations is crucial.
”And I sincerely hope that the United Nations will continue to see that,” he said.
He also encouraged the CSOs to continue to be the voice of the vulnerable people and engage more with the government to address their needs.
He emphasised the need to get the international community in working with and through the local CSOs in making humanitarian concerns known to the government and engaging with them.
Muhammad Bulama, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Political and Special Duties, Office of the Vice President, said government would continue to partner with CSOs and other stakeholders to improve the lives and security of citizens.
Bulama said, ”The Federal Government intends to partner with them more to make sure that insurgency and terrorism are in the past.”
He said the CSOs had been playing vital roles in development, adding that the government would collaborate with them to ensure that people get what they deserve.
Similarly, Mr Audu Amba, National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) stressed the need to prioritise access to quality education especially as peace and normalcy return to volatile areas in the region.
”Most of our schools were affected, IDP camps scattered all over most of the states in the northeast region.
”And with the advocacy on the struggle by civil society organisations, donors came up to assist by way of rebuilding schools.”
Amba noted the effects of insecurity in the region, particularly on the education system, urging for more commitment, funding and supports to the sector as well as others.