Far-North, Priority of Priorities

That situation has been very much in the order of things in that part of the country for quite some time now. And the climate this season is not making things easier either. The Harmattan, with its g sandy winds has come in to exacerbate an already-precarious situation sending many citizens into untold hardship. When one adds the affliction imposed by the villainous Boko Haram on these people, it is easy to understand their haplessness at the moment.

Some hope may come from the Public Investment Budget recently voted by Parliament. The Far-North Region might not have gone away with the Lion’s share of the 1000-odd Billion FCFA. But the allocation of some FCFA 37 Billion is quite revolutionary if simply compared to last year’s paltry FCFA 4,532,963,962. The people’s abject situation was further compounded by the scandalously low rate of the execution of the Public Investment Budget. A mere 50 percent execution rate by September 2014 for a Region in dire need of developmental projects!

By every stretch of imagination, the Region is beginning this budgetary year in good auspices. Apart from the FCFA 37 Billion being set aside for investments, there is also the special allocation which is still to be specified and which is being expected within the framework of the three-year emergency plan announced last month by the Head of State. Moreover, there is a presidential aid plan currently on to assist the people of the three northern regions greatly affected by other scourges such as drought, floods and security concerns engendered by massive influx of people fleeing attacking Boko Haram insurgents.

In another chapter, there is the massive project to check the regular overflow of the Logone River which has often been the cause of floods involving loss of life and crops, exposing ordinary people to famine. As we write these lines, there are also reports of a lingering famine in most parts of the Far-North Region because of the strife situation which has caused many farmers to flee, abandoning fertile lands for refuge in places which quite often may not offer possibilities for farming or any access to food supplies, cut off as many are, from supply lines even when food is made available by humanitarian agencies.

In the face of all these needs, the execution rate of public investment projects for last year was simply unacceptable. How else can the rest of the nation express its concern and even sympathy than by giving an emergency dimension to all that is envisaged for that part of Cameroon? At a meeting held a few days ago in Maroua and chaired by the Governor of the Region it was made quite abundantly clear by the Governor that no development project should be delayed on account of the security situation there, promising that the government will do all that it will take to ensure that those carrying out projects are protected from possible attacks.

Vote holders, especially those in the Yaounde bureaucracy therefore have no reason to delay the release of funds for projects in the Far-North! It will be quite disappointing to observe that the political will of ensuring that this part of the country gets its own share of the national cake, even in the heart of an insurgent situation, is not translated into concrete reality simply because of the carelessness of a few decision-makers, unable to take the full measure of the emergency situation there.

The military are already doing a marvellous job by keeping the Boko Haram invaders at bay. Their firm resolve to defend the fatherland can be fully recognized only by ensuring that behind the battle lines, citizens continue to live a life of normalcy and even prosperity, why not! Because of its specific situation, the Far-North remains the priority of priorities in developmental terms.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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