North-East Governors Join Forces to Address Regional Challenges

By Mohammed Bello Doka. 

In a bid to tackle the various challenges affecting the North-East region of Nigeria, the North-East Governors' Forum (NEGF) held its 8th meeting in Maiduguri, Borno State. The meeting, which took place on Saturday, 9th September 2023, saw the governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe present, with Gombe and Taraba represented by their Deputy Governors. The forum celebrated the growing cooperation and friendship among the governors, emphasizing their commitment to working together for the betterment of the region.

After extensive discussions and deliberations, the NEGF presented a 10-point communique highlighting their resolutions and plans for addressing key issues in the region.

The communique began by appreciating the Vice President of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, for gracing the opening ceremony and acknowledging the efforts of the Government and People of Borno State in hosting the event.

One of the major concerns raised during the meeting was the rise of banditry in the North-East region. While progress has been made in countering insurgency, the governors noted that bandits from other parts of the country were now infiltrating their states. This issue is particularly severe in Bauchi, Gombe, and Taraba, where banditry was previously uncommon. The NEGF urgently called on the Federal Government to intervene and address this escalating security threat.
The forum expressed deep concern over the connivance between some traditional rulers, local authorities, and the bandits. It was unanimously agreed that any traditional ruler or community leader found to be supporting or harboring bandits would face decisive action.

The proliferation of mining, both legal and illegal, was identified as another pressing issue affecting the region. The NEGF emphasized the link between mining activities and insecurity, as well as the abuse of mining leases. The respective governments were urged to enforce compliance with local consent provisions stated in Nigeria's Mining Policy. Furthermore, the forum reiterated the need for strict adherence to the Land Use Act.

Climate change and environmental degradation were also recognized as significant challenges facing the North-East region. Flooding caused by climate change has resulted in property destruction and loss of livelihoods. The silting of rivers and deforestation caused by the charcoal business have exacerbated these issues. The governors called for immediate intervention from the Federal Government, urging desilting of rivers and effective control over deforestation, including regulating local authorities against granting approvals for such businesses. To mitigate the devastating impact of climate change, the forum resolved to participate in global initiatives such as Carbon Credits and the Great Green Wall.
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Concerns were raised about the neglected state of road and railway infrastructure along the economic corridors connecting the North-East region to the rest of Nigeria. Roads from Enugu to Maiduguri were described as deplorable, and the railway from Enugu to Maiduguri was reported to have been destroyed. The NEGF beseeched the Federal Government to address these infrastructural challenges and consider reconstructing the Enugu-Maiduguri Economic Corridor, a critical route for regional trade, peace-building, national unity, and integration.

Education was also addressed during the meeting, with the forum unanimously deciding that all states in the region must domesticate the Education Law 2022, as recommended by the Northeast Education Council.

The North-East Development Commission (NEDC) was charged with taking a more proactive approach to address development needs within the subregion. The commission was urged to prioritize short, medium, and long-term interventions to ensure sustainable development for the people.

In an effort to promote commerce within the subregion, the NEGF agreed to revive the Northeast Trade Fair, scheduled to be held in Bauchi in January 2024.

Lastly, the forum announced that the 9th meeting would be held in Yola, Adamawa State, from Friday 3rd to Saturday 4th November 2023.

The Chairman of the NEGF, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, expressed his enthusiasm for the resolutions and emphasized the determination of the governors to work collectively in overcoming the challenges facing the North-East region. The communique signifies a renewed commitment by the governors to foster regional integration, address security concerns, promote sustainable development, and create a conducive environment for trade and commerce within the subregion.

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