OPINION | NEDC and Transparency in Governance, By Deborah Obeweh 

September 2, 2020
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*Dr. Mohammed Alkali, managing director, NEDC

Transparency, as one of the basic principles of good governance, implies the public insight in the work of public administration and bodies. Citizens should be enabled to inspect the work of the public administration as well as the availability of instruments for monitoring the decision-making process. Also, citizens should be familiar with the regulations applied in the procedure for exercising their rights, clearly and understandably.

There are many different ways to look at what makes good or bad governance. People from all over the world judge governance differently. Being able to understand what a government does and why it does it is very important. It is important because being able to see what the government does means people can understand what laws there are and how they affect their lives. Without transparency in governance, people are not connected to the people that have power. This means that the people in power are not held to account by the people they govern. With no one checking what they do or understanding what they do, a government can do things that harm a population.

This brings me to the North East Development Commission (NEDC) established to lead the reconstruction and development of North-East Nigeria after years of conflict occasioned by the Boko Haram crisis. Some of us had reservations when the NEDC commenced operations. This was hinged on the past experiences where interventionist agencies instead of fulfilling its mandate end up as cash cows for politicians that are not shy to divert public funds to private pockets in the usual manner.

The case of the NEDC has somewhat proven different from other interventionist agencies in the country. There has been a consistent drive towards achieving its core mandate in rebuilding North East Nigeria that had suffered phenomenal destruction since 2009 when the Boko Haram group began its violent campaign against Nigeria.

According to statistics gleaned from the North-East Nigeria Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) report undertaken by the Government of Nigeria, the State Governments of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe, and supported by the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and The World Bank (WB), it stated that an estimated infrastructure damage of US$ 9.2 billion and accumulated output losses of US$ 8.3 billion was recorded in the region.

This is indeed a huge task before the management of the NEDC because of the burden of expectation after its board was inaugurated in 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari with Mohammed Alkali as its pioneer managing director.

I must confess that upon assumption of office, I didn’t envy Mohammed Alkali because of the hurdles he has to cross towards the fulfilment of the mandate of the NEDC. It is indeed a case of uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. The question thus is how the NEDC has fared in less than a year of its operations in the task of rebuilding North-East Nigeria.

We must admit that in all human endeavours, the foundation is critical because when the foundation starts on a faulty note, it won’t stand the test of time. I make bold to say that I am very impressed with the activities of the NEDC so far with the level of the entrenchment of transparency in its operations.

Even though nothing short of this would be expected, again, credit must be given to the managing director of the commission, Mohammed Alkali who in my opinion put his best foot forward since assumption of duties at the NEDC. This judgment of mine is based on specific criteria.

To say I am not impressed with the conduct of Mohammed Alkali so far would be a great disservice and I am not convinced that all well-meaning Nigerians would disagree with me. It is indeed a case of an unflinching passion for leaving an indelible mark towards setting a solid foundation for the operations of the NEDC towards ensuring that the socio-economic status of North-East Nigeria bounces back to greater profitability.

I do not intend to delve into the various programmes been implemented by the NEDC for space constraints. However, one thing that I would harp on is the level of transparency entrenched in its operations. This position of mine is not hinged on hearsay or assumptions, but rather a product of extensive scrutiny of its various interventionist programmes across the states in North-East Nigeria.

The level of transparency introduced in the operations of the NEDC is tremendous as well as impressive. This, in my opinion, could be a function of two factors. One is the world view is on the North East and the desire for normalcy to return and secondly the need to get things right at the foundation level for subsequent efforts in the future. Whichever of the factors that motivated the managing director, he has done well and should be commended.

I wish to state that this piece is not a praise-singing effort, but rather a challenge to other public office holders in the country towards the entrenchment of transparency in their operations using the NEDC model. The NEDC is a new agency, and the fact that it has started on this note indicates that in no distance time, its impact would be felt as regards the rebuilding of North-East Nigeria.

Mohammed Alkali remains my man any day with his passionate approach in the administration of the NEDC. He might not be that loud as others would want him to given his efforts so far, but one thing you can’t take away from him is the fact that he knows his onions and he is passionate about achieving results.

The managing director of the NEDC, in my opinion, is a rare gem that must be watched closely. I can’t say much about his background, but one thing that has struck me is his penchant for results which would ultimately translate to laying a solid foundation for an agency as critical as the NEDC. He is also conscious of the fact that whatever happens in the future would be based on his performance as the pioneer managing director of the NEDC.

This is called purposeful leadership anchored on a strong moral self, a vision for teamwork, and an ethical approach marked by a commitment to stakeholders’. These are the hallmarks of the Mohammed Alkali regime at the NEDC. I believe if others take a cue from him, Nigeria will steady on the path of sustainable growth and development. He has indeed started in the right direction, and it is hoped that he overcomes the various hurdles that would come his way.

*Obeweh, a forensic psychologist, sent this article from Abuja.

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