World Bank to commence a development support projects in Borno, Northeast Nigeria as Amara Konneth visits Lake Chad Basin area.
By: Babagana Bukar Wakil Ngala
Mr Amara Konneth is a World Bank Manager with office in Washington DC, who was a former Liberian Minister of Finance, victim of war as well a orphan , refugee , at age of 17 (seventeen) in Republic of Guinea during the Liberian Civil War in 90s.
The Former Liberian Minister of Finance commended Borno state and the people who helped his people and the country built mosques, Islamic schools after the Liberian civil war.
The Manager of World Bank visit Maiduguri to contribute a lot for the development of Borno state and good people of northeast Nigeria who suffered the insurgency the most for about a decade
Shortly, after having a meeting with the officials of Borno state government, civil society organization and stakeholders at the conference hall of Musa Usman secretariat Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Mr. Amara with his entourages visited Dandal Kura Radio International
Eventually, in an exclusive interview with Dandal Kura’s Babagana at UN Head Quarters (RED RUFF) in the city of Maiduguri, Borno state, Northeast Nigeria.
LIBERIAN HAD GONE THROUGH A TERRIBLE SITUATION HOW CAN YOU DESCRIBED THIS?
Ooh! Ooh! Liberian story is a very sad story but also a success story and a story of Africa it is sad in the sense that the country went through a vicious civil war and every fabric of life destroyed in that country.
I was a young man and more than (250,000) two hundred and fifty thousand people have been killed in that war, we were destroyed, the economy collapsed, Liberian become refugees and internally displaced people and refugees, I believed we have registered a b iggest economic collapsed in history negative 90% you can imagine the difficulties but with the help of friends of Liberia more precisely Federal Republic of Nigeria through ECOMOG, Nigeria has immensely contributed to Liberia in restoring peace and also democratic governance .
Nigeria has done far beyond what most Nigerian knows about. At the people from Borno state were there reopened the Masjid (Mosque) for Liberian Muslims to worship because they were target , so you can see the relationship between Borno people and Liberia in terms of peace building , so’ that is the story .
So, ‘my being here this week with my colleagues from World Bank is not just world bank stats coming to do work and get paid but my own small way to of returning that favor for Nigerians what they did to my country Liberia many years ago .
During the Liberian Civil War, what were the contributions of International Non-Governmental Organizations?
Oh! Exceptional, when the government fail there were big vacuums in terms of service delivery. So,’ international NGOs that came in UN deployed the peace keepers they work with competent with local NGO to reach our people all over the country to deliver services like healthcare, water and sanitations, education, opening the schools, making the benches, helping to train teachers you know those basic services that the government was not in a possession to do because the government was collapse, there was no money, economy was not generating any income so people were suffering, dying so INGOs deployed massively across the country parking of the largest peace keepers assemble at a time in the history of the UN.
SOME RESIDENTS OF LAKE CHAD BASIN AREA ALLEGEDLY ACCUSING NGOs FOR SUPPORTING THE INSURGENTS, DURING THE LIBERIAN CIVIL WAR HAVE ANYONE EVER ACCUSED NGOS FOR BEING EVEN SLIGHTLY ON SIDE OF THE REBEL?
NO in a situation like what is happening here and that of Liberia there be not be a consensus on a services that our partners providing .Yes people accusing NGOs for supporting Chase Toylor because they were given passage to go to Toylor ‘s territory to deliver services to the people , so, people who were on the other side accused them this is what happened but at the end of the day when they went to those places the sew lies , you know they provided medicines to the sick , reading materials to the school to help the child to read ,feeding to the homeless.
MANAY CHILDREN FROM BORNO HAVE BEEN DISPLACED TO THE NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES AS A REFUGEES, SOME ARE IN MAIDUGURI AND OTHER NORTHEASTERN STATE SLEEPING, BEGGING ON STREETS, MANY OTHERS REMAINS IN ORPHANAGES AS WELL IDPs CAMPS. YOU HAD GONE THROUGH SUCH CHALLENGES. NEVERTHELESS, PARENTS ARE ALSO DEPENDS ON GOVERNMENT! WHAT IS YOUR COMMENT?
I want to tell them that it is their right to defend on government; it is also their right to keep expecting their government in terms of difficulties but looking at the size of Nigeria and the population government alone can’t do everything for the people.
Nigeria is a big country, northeast is a region that experiencing a lot of difficulties but it is not a end of the world find something to, leant something, do some volunteer job, situation today will not be forever so that when this situation is over and things begin to improve you will be in a possession to open to many opportunities.
YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH A TERRIBLE SITUATION HOW HAD YOU BECAME A MINISTER OF FINANCE OF LIBERIA?
Well it was through perseverance, by not given up, by not feeling sorry for yourself, by not seeing myself as a orphan, victims.
Imagine , you have assemble to eat dinner while the food is ready with family members when the rebels attack under the cover of darkness you don’t see your father , sister , mother , aunty anymore so I went to guinea and I had decided to farming and when I did the farm I grew corn and beans and I sold the crops in a local market and I joint refugees school for the young children because I was a high school graduate at time and my program was very successful and the International Rescue Committee of the United State saw this potential in me and went US I did no body and I had i had live in an apartment that I had to pay for , I had to worked at factory in the night and go to school in the time then pay my school fees and rent , no government help me ever because my country had no government at that time and then all the way I went to HARVARD University , I worked there at about seven years, aqcured experience of private sector which attracted the president Allen Johnson Sirleaf asked me come and to serve my country .
If you’re in a refugees camp in Chad, Cameroon, Niger or even displaced into any of the state in the country and any young person who listing to this don’t give up so that you can make a huge progress.
What advice to have for the issue of reintegration of the repentant members of the insurgents back to the family or even the society
We want to say to them, we should be very careful not to create a stigma by rejecting or family members who have repented, we have to remember the teaching of Islam, teaching of Qur’an, the teaching of prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H) about forgiveness, when you repent God will forgive you. We all know as Muslims God does not forgive you is only when you associate somebody else with him and worship another god he will not forgive for that .So in this case our brothers who followed the insurgency and once they recognized that they have made mistake and come home we should accept them ,embrace them so that they don’t go back but when we begging to reject them , stigmatize them I am affright that this insurgency might go on , we should make sure that we integrated them into the community so that they can be ambassadors to preach our young people their experience was not a right experience .
And then finally, in any insurgency or war, any conflict type of situation people who participated they come out of these sort of rehabilitation so the state government of Borno in conjunction with federal government and all of Nigeria’s development partners should begin to think ahead abut that integration program where people whose family are young boys it is their mothers’ and fathers’ responsibilities to take a very good care for their offspring because they need opportunity in our society for them to develop .
Mr Ambra Konneth, You’re Ex Liberian Finance Minister and now a manager at world bank with office in Washington DC that runs to many projects in the city of Maiduguri what are your assessments?
Well I am very happy that world bank Is here and world bank has not abandoned Maiduguri because of insurgency because the world bank didn’t come close to conflicts but the fact that world bank has presence here through some of our colleagues and others who came here to work with the local authority and other international bodies to help Borno state to help increase some of the service delivery issue here commendable.
This week I observed as an African especially west African the that have been done here for addressing the need of internally displaced people (IDPs) , need of people living here in Maiduguri ,and then you know try to make the plan from transition humanitarian assistant to development assistant at the end the day given my experienced in Liberia the post conflict country , the one major of success of any leader in a state or country that experiencing active conflict is the ability of those leaders to ensure that the conflict not continue forever .
APART FROM NORTHEAST NIGERIA, ARE YOU ALSO PRESENCE IN OTHER STATES OF LAKE CHAD SUCH AS NIGER, CAMEROON, CHAD?
Yes , world bank has a very big presence we called it a Sahel project and we also have a Lake Chad Project because Lake Chad is drying off we have to something about it so we did a recovery of peace building assessments here in Borno state , in Chad , Cameroon and Niger the idea is to figure out from Cameroon as you know south and north divide because they’re two economics are going through difficulties and you have Chad with a faces constraints prodigy and then idea is to understand of all these and make a right thing to the each of the nation
The World Bank is committed to make a big footprint that is rally help you to make a progress. All intervention today is to help you put in place and the government has to change some of the governance process and you have to get a people involved more thank you have done in governance processes , we have to put system in a place for check and balance, we have to also embrace the collection of information through satellite data collection you know so that you weather the assistant that is coming reaching the people and we are also looking beyond the conflict period to build the statistic capacity so that you and your government and ourselves understand we are the opportunities here , what are the challenges from their perspectives of hustles on development planning when the conflict is over we can increase the infrastructure you have , we can open up a space for businesses ,and hopefully the economy will kick off and create more jobs for the citizen .
DO YOU AGREE THE CURRENT POLICIES AND PLANS OF ACTION BY THE GOVERNMENT AT BOTH FEDERAL AND THE STATE LEVEL?
I have to say that the federal government has done a great job in terms of enhancing the security of the state , it wasn’t like this one or two years ago we must acknowledged that every small progress is good progress .(number one ), number two is government and the state official here in our interaction with are deeply committed to the governance process , teachers need the support and encouragement of the government and the support of the people for them to make progress and we’re here to give them our support so that they can deliver better service to the people .
DOES WORLD BANK HAVE ANY PROGRAM THAT IS DIRECTLY DEALING WITH COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM?
You know world bank is a development institution our comparative advantages is what I have just described to you that help to government people, peace building initiatives etc in term of countering insurgency we now have a big team of conflict prevention .
The World Bank has financing facilities called a risk mitigation regime this is targeted at the countries that have gone through stress, I mean serious stress not full blowing conflict as we see in other countries but a serious stress that has impeded on instability to make progress , so , weather Bono state in the northeast has benefited from that window we don’t know yet but we do know we have a program that enhanced prevent conflict .But more than that we have our trust fund that EU is putting money in at the world Bank to help put in place some of the system we discuss this week .
We discuss with state authority , public financial Management and government how to get people more involve , how to bring accountability , transparency in managing public money and how to train Nigerians and Borno indigenes to manage that and to provide reporting and improving relationship between your parliament state executive council led by the people , how to deal better relationship for the allocation efficiency so that whatever money you ‘regenerating go to the right project that is one and secondly we know that right now it is difficult to make evaluation on all the program that NGOS are doing so , we want to build a capacity where you can monitor these programs to use satellite technology so that government and his people and triple ‘R’ Ministry can help see what is happening .
Finally to help you understand how to do development planning ‘’what is the household income and expenditure in Borno state to determine the verbatim level, the target group that should be coming out of this, the orphans, the people in DIPs Camps when you return them back to their home, what will you do so that when they go back they will not leave in abject poverty, statistics is important, so, these are the technical intervention that world bank is doing
ON A FINAL NOTE, WHAT IS YOUR CONCLUSION?
Yes, today is Friday ,I wish all of my Muslims brothers and sisters Jumu’at Mubaraq , I hope and prayed almighty Allah accept our prayer today and du’a that offered by our imams across the state should be accepted ALLAH.
We prayed for peace for this region, state, the people, we also prayed for love, tolerance because we’re one people. I hope our brothers and sisters who have chosen to disagree through extremism will have a softer heart and negotiate their grievances with brothers and sisters in peace and they can come home and contribute to making Borno state and northeast Nigeria a team of God given potentials and I have faith that it will happen.
THIS IS AMARA KONNETH who was an Orphan, refugee and a Victim Liberian Civil war, Later Finance Minister and Now a Manager at World Bank With office in washing DC United State of America.
Thank you very much for the sharing your time with us hope to see you next time on the Program Guest of the week.