EXCLUSIVE: Insecurity has Worsen Mental Health of North Easterners


…as stakeholders proffer solutions at a UNDP-sponsored roundtable

By Adeoluwa Bravo

The Deputy Governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Idi Barde Gubana, yesterday lamented the worsening state of mental health among citizens in the state.

The situation which also applied to other states of Adamawa and Borno and was said to be consequence of trauma resulting from Boko Haram insurgency and other terrorist experiences in the states in the North East.

The Governors of Borno, Prof. Babagana Zulum, Alh. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, and the Deputy Governor of Yobe, Alh. Idi Gubana expressed fear at a roundtable dialogue organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to find a way forward in building the states post-Covid, especially in the light of the continuous insurgency in the states.

The Zoom-held meeting which also had in attendance development partners including the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, British High Commissioner to Nigeria Ms. Catriona Laing, MD/CEO, Aliko Dangote Foundation Ms. Zouera Youssoufou, and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria Mr. Mohamed Yahya, among other development stakeholders and partners, was called to register the COVID-19 health and economic crisis  in the already terrorized North East- especially the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states.

The forum which had invitation extended to Editors of www.newsclickng.com, was to rethink the development priorities of the BAY states and to realign resources to create a resilient tomorrow, in a terror-ridden Northeast Nigeria. The dialogue as supported by the European Union was to examine how the states capitalized on the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 pandemic to envision building back better while transcending a variety of fragilities.

The Borno Governor- Prof. Babagana Zulum said his state was battling multiple scourge of illiteracy, insecurity, poverty, infrastructural decay and gross child abuse, while his Adamawa partner complained of high out of school children, poverty and unemployment with increasing insecurity and health challenges.

Mr. Kantel of the European Union delegation said it was unimaginable having Covid 19 in North East states, since the states already had very difficult situation of insecurity to fight. He however added that for the States to transcend the current health and security challenges, it was not enough to merely declare state of emergency without action steps such as providing succor for victims, industrialize agriculture and domesticating Child Right Acts.

He said the states must have taken bold steps as avenues to deserve aid from the European Union.
In her remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria Ms. Catriona Laing, said Nigeria was doing well with Agriculture until crude oil distraction, and must return to industrialized agriculture especially in the North East, she called for help from Bank of Industry to show up and help the people of BAY states whom she truly believed were deeply traumatized from Insurgency.

On her part, the MD/CEO, Aliko Dangote Foundation Ms. Zouera Youssoufou while thanking the European Union, the British and the UNDP for the huge contributions made towards the CA-COVID Food Basket Fund in millions of dollar, said her Foundation remains an all-time development partner of the BAY states and are ready to help the state governments where necessary; but warned that the governors must be seen to have carried the loads of laudable projects before development partners could come on board.

She said Borno State alone could produce virtually all varieties of food ate in Nigeria if given the necessary boost.

The UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Yahya concluded that the insights gained from the discussions was to shape and strengthen policy response, actions and partnerships post-COVID and will be looking forward to a more prosperous BAY states in no time.