Speech delivered by Alhaji Tijjani M. Tumsah, Vice Chairman, Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI) at the Return Strategy Workshop held on 11th July, 2018 at Government House Maiduguri, Borno State

On behalf of the Chairman of PCNI, Lt. General T.Y Danjuma I would like to welcome you all to this very important meeting, aimed at taking steps towards establishing a coordinated approach for returning IDPs.
Let me seize this opportunity to once again commend His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and His Excellency Alhaji Kashim Shettima for his commitment in restoring peace in the region and the armed forces for their tireless efforts in liberating areas hitherto occupied by the insurgents and securing these places for people to safely return and rebuild their livelihoods. The sustained security of the lives and property of the people returning remains a foremost consideration in the efforts to return people to their communities. In addition to the protection provided by the military, we must also support the restoration of civil authority with the police and other security agencies which must be enabled to effectively contribute to the protection of human lives.
As we are all aware, the predominant occupation of the people of the North East is agriculture. Therefore, access to farmlands, and freedom of movement along the roads are also important considerations when planning for sustainable livelihood recovery. It is our strong belief that we will all work diligently as critical stakeholders to ensure a well-coordinated return of the IDPs to their respective communities.
On our part, we will continue to emphasize the importance of the nexus between humanitarian and developmental interventions. This becomes more and more apparent as the demand for early recovery and transitional support measures grows with the increasing number of voluntary returnees. We also urge continued support for resilient communities that have taken in so many IDPs and have had their own resources overstretched and compromised.
Our concern today is to ensure that we can collectively agree on a plan for the continued safe, coordinated and sustainable voluntary return of IDPs to areas that are safe. We acknowledge the overwhelming desire of these people to return to their homes, after being displaced for over 5 years. We also understand the need for this return to be phased while ensuring basic services continue to be provided to the people as a condition for this return.
The PCNI recognises the concerns being raised by varied stakeholders and indeed also the IDPs. This is especially in relation to the emerging gaps in the return exercise as well as the need to mobilise resources to address the gaps.  I therefore wish to reassure you of the Federal Government’s commitment to take up and support the quick resolution of many of the gaps that will be identified today. The PCNI is committed to work with all stakeholders as well as willing to mobilise funding for some of the critical requirements to make the continued return of IDPs a success.
The PCNI hopes we can all agree that only by working together can we ensure we achieve the goal for the recovery of the North East. While appreciating the inputs of all partners, I would appeal that we continue to share information on activities, collectively respond to challenges and learn from lessons from for the benefit of the people of the North East.
As we take this bold step today, let us be mindful of the necessity of the urgency to take forward and replicate the success we will collectively achieve.
Thank you all for coming and I wish we have fruitful deliberations. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


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