By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Speaking to reporters in Abuja on Friday, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Ahunna Eziakonwa said remarkable progress had been made in the region.
Eziakonwa, who is also the UN regional director for Africa, said the UN intervention has already brought remarkable progress.
The UN official who is in Nigeria on an official visit to learn about the impact of the UN intervention noted, however, that there was still a lot of work to be done.
She described her mission as a moving one, having been born and raised in Nigeria.
“So coming back and doing this mission has been moving for me starting in the northeast where UNDP is working quite solidly with the state government and the federal government to help those affected by this brutal conflict. .
“I’m happy to say that when we started this two years ago we weren’t sure if it would be successful due to its complexity, but some of the donors trusted us.
“This mission confirmed to me that there is proof of this concept of working in a context of development crisis.
“Indeed, on the faces of those we met there, we saw hope reborn.
“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 to rehabilitate areas, people feel confident enough to return to their ancestral homes. to re-cultivate their life. ,” she said.
Illustrating with ‘Banki’ a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon that she visited while crossing the border on foot, she said normalcy was already returning.
Eziakonwa said schools had resumed with teachers working transparently within communities, a feat she said was part of the stabilization agenda sought by the UN.
She said, however, that in its interventions, the UN avoids physical visibility but operates from behind to help rebuild lost confidence.
She pointed out that a major cause of the insurgency was the lack of trust in the leadership, which also prompted residents of the community to strengthen their trust in the lies of the insurgents who courted them.
She explained that when people believed their leaders didn’t care, they could be prompted to join forces with those who might show they cared more.
The UN representative said the goal was to find a way to prevent citizens from being entangled in violent extremist groups by ensuring that leaders genuinely care.
She congratulated the Governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum, who she said has clearly demonstrated his commitment to helping her people out of the bad situation.
“He is in the lead and we are following behind.
“We need to have a cross-border view of how we are responding to this situation because Boko Haram has affected three other countries – Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger.
“This border dynamic should not be ignored. So if we are looking for investments that bring security back, that security will have to be restored in all affected countries, not just one, ” she said.
Corroborating the position of the UN Deputy Secretary, UNDP Country Representative Mohamed Yahya stressed that the North East was now at a turning point.
He said that with the wave of terrorist surrender as well as the reduction in the wave of attacks, coupled with other UNDP interventions, he was confident that over the next two years the region would return to normal.
“We firmly believe that we are at a turning point in the Northeast. The UN worked there, but I don’t think we’ve seen that.
“First, the attacks are at their lowest ever in the last quarter since the start of the insurgency.
“We have seen a lot of people surrender and give up; the numbers are there and they are most likely 10,000.
“Our engagements with Governor Zulum are really about moving the development agenda forward and getting people back to safe homes,” he said.
He added that UNDP had invested $ 30 million in the Northeast and would continue to invest in stabilizing the region.
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