As the Federal Government rehabilitates the Northeast wrecked by the now weakened Boko Haram sect, youths in the zone have undertaken to closely monitor the rebuilding efforts. In about five years of the insurgency, the zone lost much of its infrastructure and its life. Youths were killed and maimed, some forced to flee, other captured and recruited into the invaders’ army. Now some of the survivors who have coalesced into non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups have pledged to join the efforts to prevent a repeat of what the region suffered at the hands of the terrorists.
The youths articulated their position at a conference, noting that the high level of poverty in the zone makes it easy for insurgents and other agents of destruction to recruit youths into their fold. Closely related to this is the role of the youths as catalysts for any future the zone may have and therefore the need for them to take up leadership role and not resign to fate.
The conference further observed that youths are central in the process of post-conflict trauma management and that their participation in the effort to reconstruct the infrastructuresdestroyed by the insurgents and the resettlement of returnee internally displaced persons (IDPs) is of paramount importance.
They also took cognisance of the untiring efforts by the government and the military in crushing and annihilating the insurgency in its entire ramification, following which they recommended that:
- Youths should henceforth act as the agents of development rather than be cannon fodders to unscrupulous politicians and agents of destruction.
- Youths should take particular interest on how the government plans to implement its reconstruction, resettlement and rehabilitation programme in the northeast.
- Northeast governors must show more interest in the plight of our Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). They feel abandoned and at the mercy of the vagaries of uncaring governments agencies
- The National Assembly shall hasten the passage of the Bill seeking the establishment of the North East Development Commission.
- Proper documentation should be carried out for the entire insurgency affected areas in the North East.
- The rehabilitation and re-integration of the IDPs and those Boko Haram fighetrs who surrendered to the authorities should be treated with all the deserved seriousness.
- The stakeholders of the Northeast sub-region are urged to contribute their quota in the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of the North East.
CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) should intensify their commitments and devise ways of getting information on empowerment initiatives by the government and make such information available and accessible to the general public.
Mallam Babayola Muhammadu Toungo, who represented the Chairman, Arewa Research and Development Programme, Dr. Usman Bugaje said the meeting was to prepare the youths towards being agents of development and peace in a post-conflict northeast.
He said the belief that lack of implimentaion of budgets over time by the various governments in addition to aforementioned factors were responsible for fueling the disturbance in the northeast.
Even now: “We don’t have any guarantee that the N500bn social safety the Federal Government is talking about may not go down that way again. So we want our youths in a position whereby they can track the disbursement and usage, and be agents of development and peace.
“The whole idea is to make youths see other forms of opportunities; particularly in agrarian areas which is very enormous. We are trying to re-engineer or re-synergise their thinking to make them understand the need to take their destiny in their hands – chart your vision, chart your course. Nobody is willing do that for you. He said education was another scheme they were working on, considering that 90% of the 12million children the UN said were out of school in
Nigeria were in the north.
“This is part of what we are campaigning for now. Government should sit down and look at our basic education with a view to taking those kids off the street because that is a very big time bomb we are sitting on.
Our teachers today are reluctant teachers in the sense that most people that went to colleges of education in my opinion went there because they couldn’t get admissions into universities or
polytechnics. But finding yourself in a teachers’ college, you are trained to be a teacher from day one,” said Babayola while making case for the reintroduction of teachers’ training schools
Ibrahim Yusuf, Chairman, Civil Society Coalition in Gombe state and also the Mobilizer of the Civil Society Meeting in the Northeast said the objective of the meeting was to build the capacity of young people’s organsation on how to track and monitor the programme of the Federal Government in the three Rs Programme – reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of the people affected by the insurgency so that the organisation will be empowered in order to
engage the process so it will not be diverted by politicians and also the contractors at the community level.
He explained that ten participants representing ten organisations were drawn from the six states of the sub-region to stream down lessons from the meeting to their home states and also mobilize stakeholders in the process in order to make sure that everybody is on board.
Mohammed Anur, a participant from Yobe State Civil Society Organisation said he had learnt the need for youths to be proactive by telling government what they need, since they are closer to the communities and know the problems.
He said the meeting had opened their eyes on collaborating with donor agencies to engage youths on skills acquisition training. “So we want to teach them on how to stand on their own because unemployment contributed a lot to this Boko Haram thing,” he said while urging
Youths to be less angry about unemployment.
Ismaila Mohammed, the Coordinator for ISMI (International Strategic Management Institute), Adamawa state said the meeting brought them together to see how they can contribute to the development of the Northeast region of the country by learning from each other as constant exchange of ideas is a veritable way of helping individuals develop their potentials.
He said: “Unemployment is the inability of the individual to have creative thinking because there is no job anywhere, but creative thinking can enable an individual make something out of his life
because everyone has potentials in them and the only way to bring them out is by thinking – looking inward.
How to improve the lives of the IDPs, fast tracking their rehabilitation and how things will be done to take care of them was uppermost in the mind of Garba Rebecca, a participant from Borno state.
“The condition of the IDPs is improving, but there is room for more improvement. I will organise the IDPs and educate them; let them not feel neglected or as if government is not taking their issues seriously. We will also reach out the non-IDP youths as well.
Educating them will make them understand that government is trying and be supportive,” Rebecca explained.
Comrade Aminu Saleh from Bauchi state of Northern Youth Assembly which partners with Arewa research Development Project ARDP said the meeting afforded them the opportunity to rub minds with colleagues across the northeast in order to look at the problems that have been facing in the zone and the entire country, Nigeria.
“In the northeast, we have the problem of Boko Haram and if you look at it critically, you will realise that the problem is as a result of some negligence. Greed and corruption is directly proportional to what cause this problem
“Also, our elders sometimes initiate policies that can directly go in contrast with helping the youth and indeed the country. For instance, ATBU Bauchi said they cannot employ Third Class graduate and about 60 to 70% of their students are Third Class – if you don’t want a child, you don’t need to have one.
“So, in this meeting, we are going to rub minds, look at some of the policies our leaders are introducing without bringing the youths closer to them so that we can advise on the basis of reality or so that they can revisit some and do something reasonable to assist the
youths,” said Saleh