REMARKS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE ON THE COURTESY CALL WITH THE SHEHU OF BAMA LGA ON THE PROPOSED BAMA INITIATIVE ON 25TH OCTOBER 2017
1. It is a great pleasure to welcome the noble traditional ruler of the resilient people of Bama, The Shehu of Bama, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Umar Ibn Kyari El-Kanemi It is my pleasure to welcome you to the National Assembly today. I always look forward to opportunity to interact directly with community leaders, especially with you and the representative heads of Local Government Authorities directly impacted by the terrorist insurgency in your region.
2. The causes of the current situation in the North-East can be summed up as long-standing deficits in access to basic government services and administration which have left large numbers of people in the region in a desperate situation. This situation has proved to be a fertile breeding ground of resentment and hopelessness which has helped fuel to the current crisis today.
3. Without renewed focus on improving the lives of the people in the region, the causes of the crisis will not go away, and could lead to further suffering through conflict.
4. Bama like other communities in the North-East region is bearing the brunt of the many years of insurgency. This has severely retarded progress and directly impacted the prospects for economic development, good governance and social cohesion. Worst still the most vulnerable citizens, women and children, are left without shelter, food and education.
5. Without coherent planning and effective leadership, the humanitarian interventions will remain fragmented and incomplete. There are risks of gaps arising, where populations in need are neither identified and targeted, nor given assistance. Without proper oversight, duplication and overlap of aid programs will occur.
6. As leaders we must always remind ourselves that the interest of the people we represent comes first in everything we do. The plight of the displaced people of the north east should be our top priority, we must craft innovative solutions that will better the lives of many.
7. Since, the inauguration of the 8th Senate we have remained resolute and unflinching in our support for innovative palliatives programs and arrangements that would relieve the suffering of the people in the North East.
8. The Senate increased appropriations for humanitarian assistance in the region in this year’s budget, the North East Development Bill was also passed to foster development of the region and the oversight functions of our committees blew the whistle on corruption in the disbursement of IDP funds.
9. We cannot achieve these without regular consultations with representatives of the LG administration who are directly affected. We strongly believe in the role of traditional, religious heads and community leaders in finding a lasting solution to the crises and welcome all opportunities to work with such groups.
10. While pledging the support of the National assembly to the people of the North-East I would not fail to point out that, government agencies and organs must work concurrently in every program designated to provide relief to the people of the northeast, as we all have critical roles to play in rebuilding the region.
11. We need to build:
a) Safer, new and resilient communities for the 26 million inhabitants of the North-East Region.
b) Adequate humanitarian assistance for orphans, widows and other vulnerable persons and communities targeted at the over 38,000 households in the North-East.
c) Healthcare to access to over 3.7million people vulnerable people in affected areas
d) Improved quality and access to education to our out of school children
e) Livelihood support and value chain addition for over 137000 households living in the North-East
12. The Bama Initiative is a welcome development: this technique of creating a protected community has worked quite well in a number of different situations where you strengthen a community which is protected by the military and other security agencies that you put resources into, create opportunities and livelihoods, provide health care, education and other basic amenities. These programs can draw the population in to organized structure and away from insurgency. This will become a prototype for other communities in the region. This will also dissuade seemingly hopeless youths from turning to negative coping strategies.
13. Overtime it is believed the population will begin to realize there is no benefit for them to associate with insurgency as they see the benefits of investments in LGA input and they are broadly protected.
14. These must be controlled areas, however, and to achieve this we must facilitate frequent consultations between government and traditional rulers to avoid potential areas of conflict. The Senate will work with the House of Representatives to harmonize our stance on The Bama Initiative.
15. This is the time for us all to work together as leaders, we do not have the luxury of indecision anymore. Once again, on behalf of the Senate and the entire National Assembly, we welcome your delegation to the National Assembly.