By Afolabi Gambari
For many people in the entire North East, the re-appointment of Alhaji Muhammed Alkali as Managing Director/CEO of North East Development Commission (NEDC) was a welcome development, considering the level of achievements that the NEDC had recorded under his leadership since he assumed office in 2018.
It would be recalled that the Alkali administration witnessed the outbreak of Covid-19 soon after it was inaugurated by former President Muhammadu Buhari, posing severe challenge to the commission. However, it was credit to the Alkali’s leadership that he rose up to the challenge by providing credible interventions in the North East in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Resources and Social Welfare.
With the devastating outcome of the insurgency that ravaged the North East of Nigeria for over a decade, the NEDC under Alkali has proved equal to the task of providing succour to the vast population of the region, particularly in the rural communities that were seriously affected in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. In addition, the commission has been actively involved in peace building, social cohesion, infrastructural rehabilitation, livelihoods and the restoration of service delivery with the ultimate aim of rebuilding the region’s infrastructure and promoting peacebuilding and social cohesion in places where civil authority was gradually being restored. His NEDC team visited the IDP camps at Muna Garage, Muna Farm and Stadium that hosted displaced people from Marte, Abadam, Kukawa, Guzamala, Konduga, Bama, Dikwa, Mafa, Kala Balge, Gamboru Ngala, Gubio, Mobbar and other remote areas with a view to ascertaining firsthand the conditions at the camps.
In the area of infrastructure, the NEDC has initiated several efforts at working with governments of the six North East states to ascertain the needs of the various people in the region to bring about the desired development.
It is without any doubt for the foregoing that the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima hosted the NEDC board members on October 5 at the State House, Abuja where Alkali led his team to present the North East Stabilisation and Development Master Plan in fulfilment of Section 8 (1) (c) of the NEDC Act which stipulates that the commission shall develop a ten-year plan covering 2020 to 2030 based on the needs assessment of the North East.
At the occasion, the vice president expressed confidence on the Alkali administration to steer the cause of the North East to greater height, while urging the Paul Tarfa-chaired board to focus on investments in legacy projects that include agriculture, education and smart transportation, otherwise known as electric transport vehicles and tricycles. The message from Shettima to the NEDC board was unmistakable: “Unite as a team and do what is right for the people.”
Recently, however, a shadowy group named North East Pressure Group (NEPG) launched an attack on Alkali after he was re-appointed by the Federal Government for another five-year term in office despite his achievements in the last five years as the helmsman of NEDC. The NEPG, headed by Dr. Haruna Garstang Gololo, challenged the re-appointment of Alkali in court, faulting the tenure elongation and accusing the vice president of contravening constitutional provisions to elongate the managing director’s tenure.
Nothing can be as trivial as Gololo ascribing Alkali’s re-appointment to politicisation, especially as he had ignored competence with which the board has carried out the affairs of the NEDC in the last five years. He has also ignored what consistency can bring upon administration efficiency with regard to the development of the entire North East.
At best, Gololo’s pressure group can be described as a disruptive influence that the NEDC cannot afford at this time.