The President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki has called on Nigerian’s not to berate President Muhammadu Buhari for his call for focus on the North East saying that the region was in dire need of attention.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen at the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saraki said that the level of devastation in the region required priority attention.
He stressed that it was in view of that that he had called for an international conference on the North East to get attention to the region and to raise fund to rebuild it.
Recently, the President of the World Bank was quoted as saying that President Buhari asked the Bank to focus on “northern Nigeria”, a report which generated criticism for President Buhari but had been described by the Presidency as misconstrued.
The Presidency stressed that the President only sought attention to the north east in view of the pressing humanitarian and developmental crisis.
While backing President Buhari, Saraki however stressed that he was not undermining conflicts in other parts but pointed out that “for the President to ask for focus on the North East, I think it is appropriate, to address the issue of Boko Haram.
“I am not saying there are no issues in other regions of the country but you will agree with me that it is the greatest danger faced by the country.
“It is only that now because of the achievement of the federal government, we are all getting a bit relaxed and asking questions about focusing on rebuilding the area or not.’’
He called on Nigerians to rise above sentiments, particularly on issues that pose great threat to human lives.
The President of the Nigerian Senate went on to say that there while still suppressing the Boko Haram insurgents, there were still a lot of humanitarian and developmental challenges in the region.
He said reports had it that the level of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria was one of the highest in the world due to the damage caused by Boko Haram.
“The level of IDPs in Nigeria though not as much as much as in Syria but it is very high, second highest.
“So, the international community must hold a conference to be able to raise enough money and awareness.
“That kind of conference will bring in more donors and agencies that will contribute to to rebuild the North East.
“We have not made much progress in rebuilding the North East because we cannot do it alone.
“The issue is how to sustain the peace that exists in the region enough to relocate people to their homes. That is where we are and that is the difficult part,” he said.
On concerns of corruption allegation linked to funds previously released for rebuilding of the North East, Saraki said such would not stop the call for international intervention because of the number of lives being affected.
He noted that rather than doing nothing because of corruption allegations, the right thing was to investigate the allegations and bring those found wanting to justice, while continuing with the rehabilitation process.
“Are we playing our part, yes, is there corruption, yes. It is not only in the management of the North East, we have corruption in other areas.
“It is however unfortunate that such is happening to people who should be assisted. People who have been displaced and who have lost their lives.
“We would have thought that, that will be the last place to hear of corruption. This shows how greedy people are that they cannot consider the humanitarian aspect of the problem.
“However, we must commend the men and women in uniform, the Federal Government in providing funding and the support of the National Assembly.
“Now there is relative peace, though there are still sporadic attacks but not as much as it was a few years ago,” he said.