Richard Ginika Izuora
The United Nations (UN) has observed a gradual return of peace in Northeast, Nigeria.
UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN’s Regional Director Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, on Friday October 15, in Abuja said remarkable progress had been recorded in the region.
According to her, UN’s intervention had already brought remarkable progress but cautioned that more need to be done.
She in Nigeria to access the impact of UN’s intervention in the region.
Eziakonwa, described her mission as an emotional one, having been born and raised in Nigeria.
She said, “So, coming back and doing this mission has been an emotional one for me starting off in the Northeast where UNDP is quite robustly working with the state and federal government to assist those who have been affected by this brutal conflict.
“I am happy to say that when we started this two years ago; we didn’t know if it would be successful because of its complexities, but some of the donors trusted us.
“This mission confirmed for me that there is proof of this concept of working in a development crisis context.
“Indeed, on the faces of those that we met there, we saw hope being restored.
“There are still many challenges. But it was amazing to see that because of these green shoots of investments that we are starting to make in rehabilitating the areas; people are feeling confident enough to go back to their ancestral homes to re-cultivate their lives,’’ .
The envoy also said there is near normalcy around Banki, a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon which she visited while crossing the border on foot.
Eziakonwa pointed out that schools had resumed, with teachers working seamlessly within communities; a feat which she said was part of the stabilisation agenda which the UN sought.
However, she noted that the UN shies away from physical visibility; but operates from behind so as to allow for lost trust to be rebuilt, stressing that a major cause of the insurgency was lack of trust in leaders; adding that this also made community residents to build trust in the lies of the insurgents who wooed them.
She explained that when the people believed that their leaders did not care; they could be spurred to join forces those who might demonstrate that they cared more. She said that the focus was to find a way to stop citizens from getting roped into extremist violent groups by ensuring that leaders actually care.
She commended the Governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum, whom she said had clearly demonstrated his commitment to help his people to come out of the bad situation.
“He is leading the trail and we are following behind.
“We have to have a cross-border lens to the way we respond to this situation because Boko Haram has affected three other countries – Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger.
“This border dynamics is not one to ignore. So, if we are looking for investment that brings back security; that security will have to be re-established in all the countries affected, not just in one,’’ she said.