The North East Development Commission (NEDC) has embarked on various development programmes aimed at empowering the youths. It recently trained 900 of them in waste management and donated a 600-capacity lecture auditorium and a mega library to the Mega Secondary School at Gashua in Yobe State. The NEDC is creating jobs through Information and Communication Technology (ICT), writes DUKU JOEL

The North East Development Commission (NEDC) is aggressively working to meet its mandate: the development of the insurgent-devastated region.

Among many other initiatives, it is also focusing its empowerment programmes on the youth and education sectors.

The NEDC is the focal organisation charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonise and report on all intervention programmes and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

It also helps to implement such programmes as designed by states and other development partners in the Northeast states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

No doubt, the effects of the devastation of the Boko Haran insurgency in the Northeast are still noticeable, so a lot of rebuilding and empowerment work is needed.

Insurgency dealt a blow to the infrastructure with attendant consequences on the human capital development of a traumatised population.

To narrow it down to demography, the youth are most vulnerable and are prone to recruitment by insurgents.

Unemployment has also remained one of the biggest problems facing the region.

The NEDC was established in 2017 by the Federal Government with an ambitious commitment to rebuild, reconstruct, resettle and rehabilitate the region.

The commission is bringing smiles to the faces of traumatised population.

The commission has in less than five years become a key partner and a driver of development in all the six states of Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe in the region.

Through its strategic multi-sectoral interventions, the infrastructural deficits of the region are gradually been achieved.

The human capital development of the unemployed population especially the youth is also receiving serious attention.


ICT training for youths


The commission has undertaken the training of 10,000 youths annually in Information Communication Technology (ICT) across the region.

Already, a total of 30,000 of those youths have acquired the training in the last three years in the states.

Managing Director of the Commission, Mohammed Goni Alkali, accompanied by his team and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, embarked on the donation of the ICT centres.

The third batches of the beneficiaries graduated from various institutions of higher learning across the regions.

Each of the trainees underwent training in ICT, including computer graphic designs and smartphone repairs.

Each of the graduates was given a starter pack which contained a laptop, scanner, printers, tools for repairs, and accessories, among other cutting edge equipment and some cash.

Alkali also inspected the multi-billion naira intervention projects in education at those institutions.

Among them is the 600-capacity lecture auditorium to the Mega Secondary School at Gashua in Yobe State. It also donated a mega library to the school.

While making the presentation of one of the ICT centres at Yobe State University, Alkali said the choice was strategic.

The aim, he said, is to help tackle youth unemployment in the region and make such beneficiaries economically self-reliant.

He noted that the modern world has gone digital and the commission has to key into such ideas as a deliberate way of empowering the youth in the region.

Alkali said: “We have established and fully equipped three CT centres for Yobe State including Damaturu, Potiskum and Gashu’a.

“I believe this is a major step to ensure that our teeming youths are empowered.

“Each of these centres will graduate 600 youths annually. We are going to support them with the necessary tools required.

“One of the centres is situated here in Yobe State University.

“We have approved to build a 250 lecture theatre which we cost about N500 million.

“The education sector is important to us; we will support them. We will continue to rebuild institutions and empower our people across this region.”

‘Youths must take advantage’


Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the ICT trainees at the Federal University Gashua, Alkali urged the youths to take advantage of the programme to maximise their potential.

The commission under his leadership, he vowed, is committed to empowering the youths and letting them realise their dream.

Addressing the graduates, he said: “It is said that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, but you are the leaders of today and tomorrow.

“This is your time to take advantage of the ICT revolution and actualise your dreams.

“Under my leadership and my team at the North East Development Commission, we will ensure that we provide you with the best platforms to actualise your dreams.

“I will be the happiest person to see your success through this training that you have acquired.

“I want to hear success stories that you are using your skills in graphic and design to win big wedding contracts or smart tech engineer proficient in phone repairs.

“These are stories that we wish to be associated with at the commission.”


Interventions strategic, says VC


Yobe State University Vice Chancellor, Prof Mala Daura, described NEDC’s intervention in the education sector as strategic.

The former Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri said: “There is no discipline today in the world over that can survive without ICT.

“This occasion is a big development for us at Yobe State University because we already have an ICT programmme running.

“Therefore the donation of this centre is a huge boost to our resources.

“The intervention is coming at the right time and we as a university will take good care of the facility and sustain it even beyond fifty years.

“In the past years we have been hearing about the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and today we have NEDC.

“This commission has come to stay and we have started seeing you physically on ground and I am sure we will continue seeing your impact on this institution down the ladder,” Prof Daura said.


Governor hails initiatives


Governor Mai Mala Buni was excited by the projects the commission is carrying out across the region since its establishment in 2017.

He spoke at the presentation of business starter packs to the graduands at the Federal University Gashua.

According to him, the interventions in education are in line with his administration’s objective in reversing the state from an educationally backward or disadvantaged state.

The governor, represented by the Commissioner for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof Muhammad Munkaila, said his administration at the inauguration in 2019 declared a state of emergency in the education sector as a bold step to tackle illiteracy in the state.

“Our government is giving greater priority to the education sector.

“We have from the beginning made education as one of our major priorities as a government by the declaration of a state of emergency in the education sector on the first day I was sworn into power as governor in 2019,” Buni said.

The governor directed the NEDC Focal Person in Yobe, Dr. Ali Abbas, to closely track and monitor all the beneficiaries to stop them from selling the starter packs, and to ensure they deploy them to enhance their livelihood.


Beneficiaries grateful


One of the beneficiaries, Amina Husseini, expressed appreciation to the NEDC and other stakeholders for empowering the youths to become self-reliant and entrepreneurs.

She promised to pay close attention to her trade.

“This is an opportunity that I will not take for granted.

“I will from this moment become more committed in my trade and ensure I make a good living from this skill in computer graphics and designs,” Amina said

As part of efforts to produce highly trained and dedicated teachers to feed the demands for Universal Basic Education, the Federal College of Education (Technical), Potiskum in Yobe State made the long list of beneficiaries of ICT centres from the NEDC.

The Provost of the College, Dr. Muhammad Madu Yunusa, while thanking the NEDC, also appealed to the commission for more capacity-building projects at the institution to enable them to produce quality teachers that will compete all over the world.

He said: “In line with that vision, there exists a close relationship between the College and the NEDC.

“As should be noted, the vision of this College is to become a centre of excellence in ICT, Science and Technical education to meet the 21st-century challenges.

“Without a doubt, the incubation of such training in this college was not a sheer coincidence but orchestrated to consolidate on the gains so far made by the College in providing Teacher education in the North East region and beyond.

“The organisation of such a high-demand ICT skills centre is generally the result of close cooperation among several institutions and individuals.”

He pledged that the College would continue to remain an ICT hub and promote the consolidation and streamlining of opportunities that ICT offers.

“We remain optimistic that the efforts to NEDC shall forever remain beneficial to the target population and the society at large,” Dr. Yunusa said.

Observers have hailed the commission for its initiatives towards achieving its lofty mission of rebuilding a region struck by over a decade of insurgency despite dwindling revenue.

They note that in less than five years, the NEDC has made modest progress in addressing some of the problems of the region as it embarks on its reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement mission.