By Collins Olatunji

How far can we go to get a rare breed with honesty, transparency and uprightness?
Does Mr Integrity still exist in Nigeria?

The Managing Director (MD) of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Alhaji Mohammed Goni Alkali has proven to solve the above riddle by coordinating, harmonizing, and overseeing the success of many intervention and initiative programmes for the Northeastern States through his effective, top, and outstanding managerial skills.

Looking back at the many achievements by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, Nigerians are proud that they made the right choice back in 2015 and also in 2020. The institution of the NEDC is a proof that our country is being led in the right direction. The provision of 1000 housing units, several burn centres and food to the people of Borno State is highly commendable. The NEDC under the leadership of its chairman, DR Mohammed Alkali continues to carry on its mandate assigned to it by the Nigerian government. For such a young agency of the Nigerian government to have achieved all its recent successes in such a short period of time is incredibly stupendous.

The people of North-East Nigeria have suffered a lot from various boxes rocking the country, this include terrorism, banditry and kidnappings. These vices have caused so many ripple effects, and it would take the best of governments several years to correct. It is therefore laudable that the current administration has managed to make a lot of progress in bringing relief and peace to the region. Several officers appointed by the PMB administration have given their all in the fulfillment of this goal and the leadership of the NEDC is a leading horse in this mission.

Let us recall that sometime in 2019, the president in all his wisdom declared a 10,000 housing programme in order to resettle families who have been displaced due to terrorism. The provision of the 1000 housing units by the NEDC is thus in line with this declaration made by the president. The housing units according to Dr Mohammed Alkali, consists of four blocks of well-furnished 2-bedroom detachable flats with verandas and a courtyard in a cluster arrangement.

In addition to the housing units, other essential amentities such as solar-powered street lights and boreholes, a police-station and a motor-park were provided in the area. Provisions for schooling were also made available. That wasn’t all. The chairman of the NEDC also announced that many beneficiaries would receive food and other relief items.

The commission also empowered many farmers by providing them with agricultural machinery and equipments, seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals and extension services logistics’ vehicles annually under a programme tagged; “Integrated Agriculture
Programme” (IAP). It covers the whole 112 LGAs in the Northeast. The NEDC is also into skills acquisition, training and provision of starter packs to Information Communication Technology (ICT), trainees. Alkali devoted part of his time in giving entrepreneurship, and vocational skills a boost. Each of the 1,028 wards of the Northeast region, The NEDC has empowered women and youths in order to divert attention from the attractions of conscription into Boko Haram.

I must commend the great insight employed by the Chairman of the NEDC in the provision of the housing units. He is largely responsible for the immense success of the NEDC since its establishment. His sagacious decision making and foresight has so far seen the North-East heal quickly from its wounds. Joy and laughter are gradually returning to the hearts of the people of the N-E. The mandate handed to the NEDC by the Nigerian government might seem like an easy one superficially, but in reality, it is far from that. Bringing relief to a region corroded by terrorism is a herculean task. As sophisticated as the UN is, it still faces many challenges when it comes to providing relief and humanitarian aid to war-torn areas or areas plagued by terrorism. The NEDC has so far managed to surmount the many challenges it has been faced with by the enactment of effective rehabilitation and resettlement programmes as well as the construction and development of social and physical infrastructure.

Other initiatives were instituted in the past to restore development ot the N_E in the past. These include: the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), Presidential Committee on the NorthEast Initiative (PCNI) and the Victims Support Fund (VSF). These initiatives attained a level of success, but I can boldly say that the NEDC has attained much more. The NEDC was designed to consolidate or replace former initiatives concerned with the restoration of the N-E, and thus this was an immense responsibility on the shoulders on whoever would shepherd he organization. Those shoulders ended up being those of Dr Mohammed Alkali and I must admit that they were the right shoulders.

Dr Mohammed Alkali has been known widely as a great achiever. Alkali has over the years acquired a sea of knowledge and experience from not just within the shores of Nigeria but also overseas. The former executive director, operations of the Bank of Industry (BOI) is an alumnus of several prestigious university including Bayero University, University of London, Havard Business school and the Columbia University. It goes without saying that he has been thoroughly equipped with knowledge and experience needed to excel in every position he is placed in. He is known by those close to him as an assiduous and perfect gentleman. One other good character of his that makes him stand out is his complete transparency.

It is understandable that huge amount of funds pass through the NEDC, and it is tempting for the leadership to siphon some of those funds. But that isn’t the case of the current leadership of the NEDC. Their boss has ensured that the books are kept complete and transparency and fair play remained topmost priority in the agency. He ensured that all the funds received are put into good use unlike the times when agencies similar to the NEDC failed to achieve their mandates due to flagrant corruption.

This is an uncommon applaud of a public servant in Nigeria who came under the investigative searchlight of different media and national parliamentarians. Most Nigerians who find themselves in such probes hardly escape without a scratch, like in the case of Alkali. They are found complicit in many ways and handed over to anti-graft agencies for prosecution. Many have stood trial for alleged money laundering, and have fallen. But the NEDC leadership have stood strong and victorious in every trial and accusations.

Mohammed Akali is a man of integrity and good standing. I personally love his exceptional leadership style, which I believe is worthy of emulation by any visionary leader.

The provision of the housing units and other amenities is just a foretaste of the many achievements to be made by the NEDC. I believe that soon, the North-East will be completely restored to not just its former glory, but better than it once was.

I admonish us a patriotic citizens, to continue to provide our support to the NEDC and the current administration in general. Let’s ensure that our dear country comes out of the many quagmires it finds itself in, and once again prove to the world that we are truly the giants of Africa.

Olatunji wrote this article from Abuja.

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