Development Masterplan: North East Commission seeks input of National Assembly

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…. Advocates for increase in statutory allocation

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – In a move to ensure that the Stablisation and Development Masterplan project is actualised, the North East Development Commission (NEDC), on Wednesday, held a consultative meeting with the National Assembly as the true representatives of the people with the view of getting their input.

This is also as the Commission has also advocated for an increase in the statutory allocation of 3 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) and Ecological Fund to 5 per cent to enable the agency meet its objectives.

The Managing Director and Officer (CEO) of the NEDC, Mohammed Alkali, in his remarks during the session described the Caucus as the true representatives of the North East region that the NEDC was established to serve.

According to him, a major component of the plan is the proposed building of 18 Mega Educational institutions spread across the six states in the North East geopolitical zone.

Alkali said: “To us in the Commission, today is another milestone towards achieving our mandate because whatever we are doing in the Commission is for the people of the North East. It is a rare to meet with you (lawmakers) who are the true representatives of those people we are supposed to serve.”

When asked about the challenges confronting the intervention agency, Alkali identified inadequate funding as a major challenge bedevilling the intervention agency.

He advocated for an increase in the statutory allocation of 3 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) and Ecological Fund to 5 per cent to enable the agency meet its objectives.

Alkali said: “In terms of challenges, some are technical, while others are operational. As at today, with the support of some of your colleagues both in the National Assembly and the Executive, we are able to surmount these challenges and now we have access to the Value Added Tax and the Ecological Fund.

“But as they say, as you cross one challenge, another challenge might come up. The recent challenge is the agitation against how to distribute the VAT fund among the component states.

“If anything adverse happens to the status quo now, the Commission will be affected because the Value Added Tax is one of the major sources of revenue that can be able to sustain the implementation of the master plan when it is ready.

“Our other cry is that we want the ratio to be increased from three per cent to five per cent because at the end of the day, the quantum of amount we are going to look for is far in excess of what the VAT will provide. So, our demand is to see how the ratio can be increased.”

The NEDC presently gets three per cent of VAT and Ecological Fund for its activities but the commission said the amount is grossly inadequate to develop the area.

The NEDC received a total budgetary allocation of N46,171,690,315 in the 2021 budget. The commission was established in October 2017.

On his part, the lead consultant to NEDC on the NESDMP, Dr. Mohammed Ahmad, said the Commission would require over $9.6billion for the developer of the North East region based on the assessment of the World Bank, European Union and the United Nations on amount required to fix infrastructural needs of the geopolitical zone as at 2016.

Ahmad said: “There is doubt about this. The budgetary provision will not be sufficient to address the challenges.

“In 2016, the World Bank, European Union and the United Nations did a rapid assessment of damage in the Northeast and they came out with about $9.6billion of which about $6billion is in Borno State.

“So, even if we come up with this figure today, which was a figure as at 2016, I am not sure we have the internal resources.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the North East Caucus of the National Assembly, Senator Danjuma Goje, said the interaction was to enable the caucus receive briefing from the commission on its activities, and also allow members of the caucus to make required input.

Goje said: “On behalf of we members of the National Assembly, we welcome the Commission and our guests to this first interactive meeting between the Commission and members of the National Assembly from the North East zone.

“When the Managing Director of the NEDC was asked for this interactive session, I was very happy.

“This is going to give us an to have a first hand Informatiom from briefing from the Commission since its establishment.

“It would also give us an to ask questions on all issues pertaining to the activities of the Commission and equally enable us to make input on how we feel the Commission would perform better for the development of our zone.”

On how the North East will be developed within a period of 10 years, another NEDC’s consultant, Dr Kasim Gidado, said 18 were involved in developing the master plan that is ready.

He said the plan is for the development of the six states covering 112 local governments in the North East Stabilisation and Development Master Plan.

“The master plan is from 2020 to 2030. We identify 11 pillars in the master plan with five main areas,” Gidado said adding that 80 percent of the development projects would be driven by Public Private Partnership.