THE United Nations says it is working towards ending the activities of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East by August 2018.
Mr Edward Kallon, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, disclosed to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.
He said “the fire in the North east should be out in the next 18 months’’.
Kallon, who described the crisis as the fourth largest in the world, said challenges confronting Nigeria were enormous ranging from security to governance and economy.
He said the crisis pose a threat to the nation’s economic and long term development, but solveable and that UN would support the Federal and State governments on it.
He said that the humanitarian assistance in the North east should be wound down within the next one and a half years.
“I want to say that we have very short window of opportunity and my calculation is 18 months; we have to put out the fire in the North east Nigeria in 18 months.
“If we don’t succeed in putting out the fire in 18 months the situation will become protracted and chronic, and some of the displaced cases can take over 10 years.
“Some of the refugee situations in the world can take over 17 years. “My push in Nigeria is to make sure that we find a solution to this problem in 18 months and start that difficult task of helping people rebuild their lives,” he said.
He said that the UN looked at the crisis as an opportunity to address a long-term problem in the affected region.
“Everybody knows that the root causes of the crisis is as a result of prolonged long term development deficit which has over the years been compounded by economic, political and religious factors.
“So whatever we are doing now is a tip of the iceberg, but the heavy lifting is how we can translate this acute reality into an opportunity for North east Nigeria.
“We have made it categorically clear that the crisis in the North east requires humanitarian intervention and also a recovery of development investment.
“We have to bridge humanitarian and development nexus in addressing the problem,” he said.
He said there was need for political intervention in addition to the military intervention in the crisis.
Kallon said that it was not an illusion to anyone that some efforts needed to be made to engage some elements of Boko Haram who were forced to join the group.
He said there was need to have some political parallel processes to engage with some elements of Boko Haram in the search for the durable peace and solution to the crisis.
According to him, there is need to engage the non-state actors in trying to see how to arrive at durable solution to the problem.
“We need a three-prong approach; the military effort is very critical and I want to state that without the military we will never have been able to do any humanitarian assistance in the area.
“In parallel to this, there is also need for political process to see how durable solution could be provided.
“The second element is the humanitarian aspects where we need to see that people have live saving assistance.
“But the last critical one is addressing the root causes of these crises, which also means efforts at conflicts resolution, negotiation of peace and reconciliation in these affected areas,” he said.
He noted that the states affected were overwhelmed by the crisis, saying “nobody can deny the face of human suffering in the area with the extent, the scale and the scope of the impact of Boko Haram crisis’’.
In order to provide a lasting solution, Kallon called for the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the federal and state governments in tackling the situation.
“If I have my way, I will advocate for the SDGs marshal plan for recovery of the North east which will be a formidable approach to address the short term needs.
“And, also embark on the long-term development aspirations of the people of this part of the world.
“I call on governments of Nigeria to come up with marshal plan for the implementation of the SGDs.
“This is the way forward for this nation and if the states can own this development aspiration the people of Nigeria stand to benefit,” he said.