By Abraham Olatokunbo
Governors of Northeastern states have alleged that the area has been shortchanged in the proposed capital projects in 2021, asking the National Assembly to ensure that this is not left unaddressed.
Rising from a meeting in Yola on Friday, the North East Governor’s Forum issued a-13 point communique.
A major point in the communique showed that the governors were displeased that despite the challenges of development especially the infrastructural deficit in the Northeast, the 2021 proposed budget makes provision for only N45.3 billion for capital projects in the sub-region.
It said: “This represents a paltry 0.35% of the proposed N13.02 trillion. This means that Northeast is highly short changed,” with the Forum demanding that the National Assembly should review the 2021 budget in the spirit of equity and inclusion.
The Forum also noted that the Sub-region has been unfairly treated in the provision of roads infrastructure by the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, and the slow or outright non existent progress on the pace of the roads already allocated in the sub region and called for the immediate reactivation and review of the comatose existing road contracts in the sub-region.
It also noted with dismay, the lack of budgetary provision in respect of the Mambilla Hydro Project in the 2021 Budgetary Proposals and calls on the Federal Government to make the project a matter of serious priority, resolve all encumbrances around the project and order action on site.
Forum critically examined the challenges of education in the sub region and resolved to adopt a regional approach by being deliberate on transforming education, especially at the basic level. Forum also agreed to form the Northeast Council on Education.
The Forum also reaffirmed the commitment of member States within the sub region to enforce the UBEC Law to protect and ensure all children have an opportunity to acquire basic education, called on the North East Development Commission (NEDC) to expedite action on the development of the Northeast Strategic Master Plan, urging that while it is working on the plan, it should ensure projects are demand-driven to ensure impact and accountability.
They however frowned at a situation where projects are imposed on the States without due consultation.
The Forum noted that Gender based violence is still a major nuisance in the sub-region, and called on all the Governors of the zone to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 and ensure the rapid dispensation of justice on gender-based violence.
It called for sub-regional integration on significantly cross-cutting issues that could mutually be beneficial to States within the region and agreed that the State Governors within the region should appoint Special Advisers on Regional Integration.
It critically examined the status of the post- COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package of N2.3 trillion and praised the Federal Governemnt for this noble Initiative, while soliciting for equitable and fair treatment especially in view of the economic and social challenges facing the sub-region.
It resolved to engage Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP), to provide technical support in key areas of development such as Agriculture and Education, and pursue vigorously the issue of securing admission for its candidates in Nigerian tertiary institutions to fill its quota.
The Forum said despite relative improvement in the security situation in the sub-region, the activities of Boko Haram, bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers are still constituting a threat to sustainable development.