A group, which champions the interest of the North East has called on President-elect Muhammadu Buhari to accord the zone special priority status in addressing the numerous challenges facing it.
The group known as the North East Change Initiative, in a press statement signed on Saturday by its spokesman, Alhaji Garba Sani, urged the federal government and the National Assembly to carefully consider, choose and appoint experienced and capable technocrats, legislative leadership and professionals with good geo-political and local knowledge of the zone’s issues towards addressing the challenges ahead.
While calling on governors, legislators and people from the zone to unite and support federal government’s efforts at addressing the challenges of the zone, the group stated, “We strongly advocate for a ‘special priority status’ to be accorded to the zone in addressing the numerous and complex challenges currently being experienced in the zone.
“We, however, call upon the governors, the elected National and State Assembly members as well as the entire people of the zone to unite and adopt common positions in supporting the federal government in its efforts to address the challenges of the North East Zone.
“We hope and pray that the Federal Government and the National Assembly will be able to seize this opportunity to carefully consider, choose and appoint experienced and capable technocrats, legislative leadership and professionals with good geo-political and local knowledge of the issues towards addressing the challenges ahead.”
The NECI is a body formed by some stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the North East geo-political zone to foster greater unity and harmony within the zone, to effectively work towards promoting a coherent policy framework towards the restoration, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the devastated zone.
The initiative noted in the statement that the North East Zone, which comprises six states of the federation, is a huge agricultural zone in addition to its immense untapped wealth in mineral resources, adding that this geopolitical area has great commercial contributions to the Nigerian economy not only because of the massive food and cash crops it generates but the Zone borders three countries (Chad, Cameroon, Niger) and stands as the major gateway to North and Central Africa.
“However, the North East zone had been the least developed part of the country gauged from all key developmental indices. The Boko Haram saga has reduced the zone to a perilous condition”, it lamented, adding that “in spite of the crisis and the human suffering currently experienced by the people of the zone, citizens nonetheless braved the odds to come out in large numbers to vote for Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the just concluded Presidential Elections”.
This much, the group noted, culminated in the zone recording the second highest percentage (78.15%) of votes scored by the president-elect in the country. “In Borno State, which suffered and is still suffering the worst devastation in the zone, the highest percentage (94.35%) of votes in the country was recorded for the president-elect”, it said.
The NECI further called “on the entire leadership of the zone to unite and harmonize their approach in tackling the challenges that cut across the zone as well as that which are peculiar to individual states in the zone. We fervently call for inclusiveness, cooperation and synergy in dealing with the challenges facing the zone”.