One Year After, NEDC Presents Report on Intervention in North-East
President Muhammadu Buhari established the North East Development Commission in 2017 and the act establishing it was signed into Law on October 26, 2017. The President in January 2019 constituted the Board with General Paul Chabiri Tarfa Rtd, Mohammed G. Alkali as Chairman and Managing Director/CEO respectively, three Executive Directors and six Directors representing each of the six Geo-political Zone of Nigeria, as well as representative of Federal Ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning. After successful confirmation by the Senate, the Board was inaugurated on May 8, 2019.
The Commission is mandated with the responsibility of receiving and managing funds allocated by the Federal Government and international donors for the resettlement, rehabilitation, integration and construction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency and terrorism as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the North-East States, and related matters.
The aim of the intervention was the delivery of emergency free medical services to the people in Maiduguri and its environs that have been affected by the insurgency and who have been displaced from their homes. A total of 4127 patients were seen in the duration of a week. A team of professional medical and non-medical personnel carried out several medical services ranging from General outpatient consultations to surgical interventions during the outreach. Some recommendations that have arisen as a result of these outreaches is the need to establish a referral system where patients can access free health care outside of the week-long free medical outreach to cater for disease conditions that cannot be treated in the current scope of the intervention.
Goals and Objectives:
The overall goal of the intervention was to increase the access of 3000 community members in Maiduguri and its environs especially those affected by the insurgency, to qualitative health care.
Prior to the medical intervention, supplies were purchased and transported to the host facility.
A team of qualified professional medical and non-medical personnel were recruited to offer medical services to the host community.
Some of the services offered include:
1. General outpatient consultations: The outreaches recruited 25 medical doctors, who diagnosed patients with different ailments ranging from treatable conditions like malaria, hypertension, diabetes, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and peptic ulcer diseases, and also made referrals for patients with chronic conditions who needed care outside the scope of the interventions.
Consultation rooms and emergency points were set up within the host facility, the emergency departments were used to attend to emergencies with supplies being provided by the team.
The team also rendered some inpatient services to patients who were already on admission in the host facility before the team arrived. This was done in conjunction with the staff in the host facility. The total number of patients that were seen by the doctors were 2671
2. General/Specialized surgical procedures: Patients requiring surgical intervention were seen at the outpatient unit and sent to the surgical team for assessment. Following evaluation by the team of surgeons, patients had various surgical procedures carried out. With the assistance from hospital staff in the host facility, the post-operative team of volunteers took care of the post-operative patient, providing free medications (intravenous and oral) and nursing care. At the start of each day, the team of surgeons conducted rounds on the post- operative patients prior to the commencement of the day’s work. The Surgical team, including post-operative nurses, were 30 volunteers. A total of 98 surgeries were performed.
c. Eye Surgeries: 5 eye surgical volunteers, including the ophthalmologist, were recruited for the eye surgical unit. And a total of 168 eye surgeries were performed. Patients were screened daily for cases requiring surgical intervention, prepared and operated on. Following screening, patients fit for surgery were counseled about post- operative care, lifestyle modification and importance of adherence to post- operative medication. They were also given appointments to return for a follow-up visits.
d. Dental Consultations and Procedures: Patients requiring dental intervention trooped to the dental unit daily. The dental team consisted of 6 volunteers (3 dentist, 2 therapists and 1 technician). Services provided in the dental unit included scaling and polishing, dentures fabrication, extractions and minor dental procedures like, abscess drainage, suturing of maxillofacial lacerations and composite fillings and other surgical procedures. A total of 366 patients had 745 procedures performed on them, and patients who were seen in the dental unit that required follow up care and further management beyond the scope of the intervention were referred to the nearest tertiary center for care. A very important aspect of the dental consultations were sessions of dental and oral health hygiene talks. Patients were taught how to brush properly, the duration of brushing and number of times to brush daily. Free toothbrushes and toothpaste were given to patients seen at the dental unit following consultations and health talks.
5. Pharmaceutical Services: 2534 patients were sent to the pharmacy unit for medications. Patients received one on one interaction with the volunteer pharmacists, who explained to patients how the medications should be taken, duration, possible side effects and other important drug information. Six (6) volunteer pharmacists were recruited for the pharmacy unit.
6. Eye Care services: The team of 4 volunteer optometrists offered consultation services to 645 patients, eye examinations, dispensed eye medications and also gave out 243 free eyeglasses to patients with various refractive errors. Patients seen in the eye care unit who had complications from chronic conditions like Hypertension and Diabetes were referred to the consulting unit for further care, counseling and management.
7. Laboratory Services: A total number of 2029 Supportive laboratory test were carried out on 851 patients during the course of the outreaches to aid diagnosis and prepare both general surgical and eye surgical patients. The team 9 lab scientists and technicians also made use of host’s laboratory facility to aid in the proper diagnosis of patients who were seen. Investigations like Ultrasound scan and X-rays available in the host facility were utilized and paid for during the course of the medical outreach.
8. Health Promotion/ Health Talks/VCT services: Patients waiting to be seen by the various units were offered health promotion talks with voluntary counseling and testing. The health promotion unit also had one on one interaction with patients who had children under 5 and mothers of malnourished children. These patients were taught how to identify common life-threatening conditions common in under 5’s and malnourished children. They were also taught how to make use of readily available food materials within their vicinity to make nutrient rich meals and were also given samples of fortified pap to take home. Patients were also encouraged to screen for Retroviral disease, and those who were positive for the first time, were referred to the nearest Anti-retroviral center for initiation of Anti-Retroviral Therapy. The total. Number of patients that passed through this unit were 179.
NEDC LAUNCHES ICT CENTRE IN NORTH EAST STATES
The North East region has been severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, which exacerbated the pre-existing socio –economic developmental challenges. The region had the lowest indices relative to the rest of the country in areas of education, health care, employment and infrastructure amongst others. These low levels of socio-economic development and poor governance have been identified as some of the underlying causes of the insurgency and remain pertinent factors to address in the recovery rebuilding of the North East. In an effort to increase efficiency in governance, the federal government therefore identified promotion in the application of technology as one of the key areas of focus. It has also recognized the importance of innovation and youth empowerment and the significant role such improvements will play in security and economic growth of the North East region and the country at large. In this regard, the NEDC which is mandated with the rebuilding process of the North East region will key into the National agenda for ICT development in Nigeria to fast track development, improve access to ICT and resuscitate the region economically in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) \of the administration.
The NEDC launched its first ICT Enterprise Resources Training Centre in April 2020 at the Tatari Ali Polytechnic Bauchi State. About 400 youths being trained on different Modules. This program was designed to inculcate skills on information technology and foster the growth entrepreneurial skills among the youths in the region. The overall objective of this program is to improve access to IT resources within the region and empower residents of the North East with the necessary vocational education, skills, and tools that can make them self-reliant.
In line with the vision of the NEDC to see a prosperous 21st Century North East Region with a robust ICT local content driven industry that delivers Social and Economic Services in a manner that enhances safety, stimulates wealth creation and environmental sustainability for all, the NEDC also established ICT Training Centers within Higher Institutions in the Gombe, Taraba and Bauchi (GTB )states and has also revamped the existing ICT Training Centers of the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY)states. These centers are expected train youth annually in the areas of Entrepreneurship and Computer Appreciation, Digital Graphics Design and Smartphone Management and Repairs. It is also expected that this will in turn create more jobs across the region and promote development of human capacity.
The Commission has also established the ICT Centre in the remaining North-East States to make youth self-productive and economically Independent. It is believed that the program would lead to the establishment of a safe, secure and prosperous North East sub-Region, as well as a model for post- conflict, socio-economic recovery and development.
With the right skills, people are better equipped to set up their own businesses and in turn, create jobs and make them active partakers in the economy. This will serve as a “gateway to self-employment and economic prosperity”
NORTH-EAST DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION RESPONSE TO COVID -19
The Commission embarked on a number of activities including sensitization of residents of communities and IDP camps, procurement and distribution of health sector equipment’s and consumables for protection against the virus and supporting treatment and management of Covid 19.
The Commissions intervention actions were designed to support both preventive and therapeutic obligations, which was why the Commission started with public awareness campaigns on the dangers of the pandemic and produced media materials in the major languages spoken in the Region for broadcast on radio and TV platforms across all the six States.
Critical items were distributed that were expected to boost the containment of the pandemic in the Region, as well as provide therapeutic capabilities to the Tertiary Health Institutions in the Region.
The Commission built two advanced health facilities in Maiduguri: a 20-bed facility within the Muhammad Goni Stadium IDP camp and a 30-bed facility in within the Muna Garage IDP Camp. Each of these facilities is fully equipped and utilized as Screening/Isolation centers.
The Commission also comprehensively equipped a Molecular Laboratory in Bauch state, which has been certified by the NCDC and is used for screening and testing of Covid 19, Lassa Fever and other viral diseases.
INTO THE FUTURE
NEDC Education Endowment Fund
The Commission established the North-East Development Commission Education Endowment Fund (NEDC-EEF) for the purpose of building the human capital of Member States in the Region. It shall operate through provision of Scholarships to deserving and eligible beneficiaries. The Commission shall put in place a Board of Trustees to prudently manage the six billion Naira set aside for the Fund. Part of the Fund shall be specially used to cater for specific groups such as orphans, youths in sports and those whose education was forcibly truncated by the decade-long insurgency. Scholarships shall be granted to candidates at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degree levels, across all the North-East States, as follows:
2,056 candidates from the 1,028 Wards in the North-East to acquire basic ICT skills.
2,056 beneficiaries also from the 1,028 Wards to undertake Bachelor’s degrees in relevant programmes in Universities located in the NE Region.
336 beneficiaries from the 112 Local Government Areas of the North-East to undertake master’s degree programmes in demand-driven areas in Nigerian or overseas institutions.
18 Doctorate degree scholarships from the 18 Senatorial Districts of the Region.
Special support to 5,000 beneficiaries such as orphans, those whose education was truncated by BH and youths engaged in sports.The project will also offer special support to post- secondary scholarship award to 2,000 beneficiaries of the safe school Initiative, youths engaged in sports and training and re-training of teachers, nurses and midwives with annual target beneficiaries of over 20,000 annually.
Integrated Agriculture Scheme
The Commission recognized that Agriculture is the mainstay of the North East economy. Decades of neglect followed by ten years of insurgency had relegated the Agriculture sector in the North-East to subsistence, at best. Agricultural value chains production infrastructure became non-functional from absence of new investments, input supply chains and extension services all depleted to such extent that agricultural productivity and output in the Region became the lowest in per-capita terms from any part of the country.
The Commission plans an Integrated Agricultural Scheme that shall support initially, smallholder farmers to return to productivity and regain their lost livelihoods (in rice production this time), to be rolled out as follows:
Commissioning of service centres and distribution of tractors for mechanization to States-based Tractor Hiring Units (THU).
Distribution of improved rice and vegetable seeds to farmer cooperatives and commodity associations
Distribution of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides to farmer cooperatives and commodity associations
Distribution of water pumps and accessories to farmer cooperatives and commodity associations
Presentation of six Toyota Hilux (4WD) project vehicles and twelve motorcycles to co-ordination units and extension staff in the States to drive implementation of the Scheme.
Roll out of the NEDC Contract Growers Scheme (CGS) to produce rice paddy for the Commission, starting with identification and recruitment of farmers in each the six States.
The Commission is also adopting dry season to run the above pilot scheme so that it can prepare adequately for subsequent rainy production seasons. In addition to distribution of the project vehicles and motorcycles. During this pilot season, the Commission plans to make available an assortment of 86 hand tractors and mini tractors to establish the NEDC THUs in the States, as follows:
Adamawa 15 Tractors
Bauchi 14 Tractors
Borno 14 Tractors
Gombe 14 Tractors
Taraba 15 Tractors
Yobe 14 Tractors
The Commission expects to empower 1,500 farmers in each of the six States, to do one hectare each, resulting in 9,000ha for the scheme this season. The Commission will provide all the inputs and mechanization services and will off-take all the output by participating/beneficiary farmers.
RAPID RESPONSE INTERVENTION
Since the inauguration of the North East Development Commission on 8th May 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Board, Management and Staff of the Commission have been working very hard to fulfil its mandate to reconstruct, resettle and rebuilding the region after more than a decade of devastation caused by the menace of Boko Haram insurgency. The Commission was saddled with the responsibility of developing the North East states in terms of Education, Roads, Health, Agriculture, Industries and above all Peace and Security of the region.
In realisation of its mandate of intervention and rehabilitation programmes with a view to tackling and in alleviating the menace of poverty, illiteracy, ecological problems and other related environmental or developmental challenges in the North East, the commission in its short term developmental plan first quarter of 2020 will implement amongst others some strategic projects which include Operation Two Projects per Local Government in the 112 LGA’s across the region.
The Commission found it imperative in a quest to ameliorate the sufferings of the people and communities in the 112 Local Governments areas in the region. The Commission has approved the execution of two key projects for immediate intervention in each of the Local Government Areas in the education, agriculture and health sectors.
The Rapid Response Intervention projects were submitted by various State Governments in respect of projects to be executed in the states. The Commission representatives have carried out detailed surveys and assessments of the requested projects and/or alternatives for the purposes of ascertaining locations, levels of dilapidation and eligibility of implementation.
The North East Development Commission remains committed to recovering the livelihood, health and educational standard of the people of the North East. The Commission hopes to collaborate with UN agencies, other international donors, partners, NGO’s and community-based organisations in ensuring that it promotes and builds resilience of vulnerable people in the region as advocated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.
Head, Corporate Affairs