President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration was embarking on a revised approach to addressing the 13-year conflict and insurgency in the North East. President Buhari, who also said his government would not relent in its efforts towards a return to peace and normalcy, pledged that Nigerians in the region would, in the coming months, witness a change from the protracted insurgency to peace and development in their respective communities.
The president spoke at the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Return, and Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east of Nigeria, which preceded the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Council Chambers, presidential villa, Abuja.
The reassurance is coming sixteen months to the end of Buhari’s eight-year tenure of two terms of four years each. He said: “At the advent of this administration in 2015, I pledged to Nigerians that I will restore peace in the North East and return it to the path of development and growth. I remain committed to this promise.
“To the people of the North-East, particularly the children and future of the North-East, we will never forget you and your courage, sacrifice and endurance has been exemplary.
“I pledge to you that in the coming months you will begin to witness a shift away from a protracted insurgency to peace building, stabilization, and ultimately development in your respective communities as we embark on a revised approach to addressing this conflict- A Return to Normalcy.”
The president stressed that the committee’s terms of reference entails a shift from managing the situation to activating a permanent solution for effective and practicable restoration.
He said the committee, among others, is expected to develop a concise three-year action plan by the end of March 2022 that incorporates national and state level plans, providing a clear pathway for the restoration of peace and development in the North East.
President Buhari said the committee would also develop and implement a phased plan for the repatriation, returns, resettlement of IDPs and restoration of livelihoods, incorporating global best practices that give dignity to the affected populations..
He added that it would also be responsible for the development and implementation of a coordinated peace building and reconciliation programme that is culturally appropriate and community driven.
Similarly, the committee is also saddled with the responsibility of strengthening collaboration with key donors, development partners and private sector organisations that are critical to the mobilisation of resources and implementation of programmes.
He charged the committee members to adopt the guiding principles of accountability, delineation of duty and community-driven methods to address issues.
He said: “Members will dedicate more time to the conduct of field visits to regularly engage with state government, communities and key stakeholders.
“Due to prevailing fiscal constraints, Ministries, Departments and Agencies will utilise existing budgetary resources and repurpose funds to programmes approved under this initiative.”
President Buhari directed the committee to submit monthly progress report whilst the first progress review meeting would be held in the first week of March 2022.
Underscoring the enormous task ahead of the Committee, he said: “History beckons and Nigeria calls on you to be the team that finally charts this new path to the restoration of sustainable progress in the North East and I strongly believe this could lead to the birthing of a template for addressing insurgency and instability in other parts of our country and across the world. Failure to deliver on this task you have been assigned is not an option.”
President Buhari also used the occasion to commend Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum, who was present at the inauguration with his Gombe counterpart, Inuwa Yahaya, for his unparalleled commitment to his people and exemplary leadership.
He also expressed appreciation to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) for support in the area of coordination of humanitarian actors and UNDP regional stabilisation facility, providing support in the area of security and the rule of law.