Good spirited Nigerians have been visiting the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp run by the International Christian Centre for Missions in Uhogua, Edo State, to show their love and solidarity with the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east who are taking refuge at the camp.
The latest of these visits is by the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, led by its National President, Mr Joel Josiah, who on behalf of the union donated food items and cash sums to the displaced persons and also called on other well meaning Nigerians to follow suit.
Hundreds of people at the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have called for fresh action by the new administration on the terrorist group, Boko Haram to enable them return home.
Many of them, who have found refuge at the camp for close to six years, complained of lack of attention by the government, save for the charity or religious groups who donate clothing and food items from time to time.
Surrounded by a thick forest, the IDP camp is complete with everything from utility store, to market and recreation centres.
Most of the camp’s residents have been there for more than six years since their villages came under attack by the Boko Haram sect, while others from surrounding towns have lived here for close to ten years.
Thousands of children reside in the camp with limited educational opportunities, lack of basic amenities and common health challenges.
A Businessman in the camp, Andrew Davies, expressed that with a new administration in place, all they want is visible change that would enable them return to their normal lives.
Another resident, Ladi Isaac, told Channels TV that she heard the news of the hand-over over the radio and hoped that it would bring greater progress in the battle against the terrorists.
It has been a particularly bitter experience for 34 year old John Peter, who had his mother and sisters abducted by Boko Haram. He also expressed hope that President Buhari’s administration would help bring them home.
The extent of the camp for several years is largely unchanged but the population has grown and the residents wait in anticipation to see what the change in government would translate to in their lives.
The Borno State Government is seeking the support of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to increase it’s assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state.
The Deputy Governor of Borno State, Mr Zanna Mustapha, who spoke at a meeting in Abuja, said the appeal has become imperative, following the increasing number of IDPs in the state and the near insufficient fund to cater for their needs.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Mohammed Sidi, has promised to look into the issue to provide succor to those affected by the insurgency in the state.
The Borno State Government had earlier established 21 IDP camps for the repatriated indigenes, who were among the over 6,000 deported from Niger Republic after the attack on two of the country’s islands by the Boko Haram sect
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has organised a stakeholders meeting in Damaturu, Yobe State capital, reassuring them of its readiness to hold hitch free elections.
Presided over by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Habu Zarma, the meeting had in attendance representatives of various political parties, security formations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and the media.
The meeting appraised the level of preparedness, ranging from the collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to the allocation of polling stations for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) among other issues that will enhance peaceful conduct of the election.
Addressing the gathering, the REC said the PVC collection had reached 91 per cent, stressing that efforts were in progress to ensure that all the IDPs were conveyed to their various polling stations.
Mr Zarma said the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp in Fika and two secondary schools in Damaturu had been reserved for Gulani and Gujba IDPs, expressing sadness that initial plans did not make preparations for IDPs.
The REC stated that there were few cases of the IDPs in Bursari, Gaidam and Yunusari, but expressed happiness that security agencies had reported the return of peace in the areas and hope for smooth conduct of the exercise.
Zarma also said the PVCs of some registered voters in the state were yet to be printed. he explained that the National Headquarters had called for the collection of some printed PVCs, saying the electoral officers of the affected areas are on standby to immediately distribute the said PVCS as soon as they arrived the state.
Speaking on the use of the card reader for the voter accreditation, the REC said only voters identified would be allowed to exercise their franchise, saying; “there are enough card reader with back up of three per each electoral wards”.
The REC called on the stakeholders and people across the state to ensure orderliness that will would way for free, fair, peaceful and credible exercise.
Governor Tanko Al-makura of Nasarawa state has urged various tribes affected in previous crisis, returning homes ahead of the general elections to live peacefully among themselves.
Governor Al-makura made the call at the facilitation movement of Internally Displaced Persons, urging those going back to their homes in Obi Local Government Area to co-exist without resorting to violence.
The resettlement of the people of Daddare, Tudun Adabu and Obi is part of the governor’s tour of the state to address social issues ahead of the elections.
Governor Al-makura and his All Progressives Campaign campaign team arrived Obi and Daddare towns to commence the resettlement exercise that will facilitate the return of its inhabitants.
The governor, who also presented staff of office to the traditional ruler of the towns, urged the various tribes to co-exist peacefully upon their return, as government has procured relief items to help rebuild their homes and allow for an improved standard of living.
Mr Al-makura listed projects executed by his administration in the area, asking them to give him another chance to do more for the people.
During the rally, people in Awe local government assured the governor that he would get their total support and turn out in the forth coming elections.
The postponement of the elections by six weeks would allow political parties to put finishing touches to their preparation for the election, allowing them to do more campaign and reach out to the rural areas to canvass for votes from the people.
The Buhari Youth Organisation, Yobe State chapter, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to allow the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to discredit its prestige as it plans for a successful election in March 2015.
Addressing newsmen in Damaturu the Yobe State capital, the State Chairman of the organisation, Bashir Bukar Ba’ale, said that the organisation accepts, in good faith, the postponement of the February 2015 elections but warned that there shouldn’t be any further shift in the date of the election as such would not auger well for the nation’s democracy.
The Chairman said, “Evidence given for the shift in the date of the election are not sufficient but since INEC acted within the ambit of law, we have accepted the postponement in good fate but any further postponement is an insurgency to democracy.”
On the issue of insecurity and elections in Yobe State, the Chairman recalled that despite the security challenges bedevilling the state and the north-east region of the country, the Yobe State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) conducted a successful Local Government Election in 2013.
On the back of this, he said that INEC should not hide under the canopy of insecurity to thwart the smooth democracy the country has enjoyed over the years.
The organisation also expressed confidence in the capability of the country’s security agencies and urged them not to allow the PDP-led government to discredit them in the democratisation process of the country.
The leader of the Buhari supporters also revealed that the distribution of the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) in the state has recorded 80% success, pointing out that even the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have collected their PVCs.
While rejecting any attempt for an interim government, the organisation, according to him, supports the use of the card reader during the forthcoming election, saying it would greatly reduce fraud and other electoral malpractices the country had passed through in the past.
The Adamawa State Governor, Bala James Ngilari, has appealed to the Federal Government and Human Right groups to find ways of actualizing the ceasefire agreement initiated between the Federal Government and the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
The Governor’s appeal is contained in a statement issued by his Director of Press Affairs, Mr Phineas Elisha, and made available to newsmen in Yola the Adamawa State capital.
The statement condemned the actions of mischief makers for trying to frustrate the efforts of the Federal Government to end the insurgency. It also called on Human Rights Activists to impress on the Federal Government to pursue the agreement to its logical conclusion.
“We call on the Federal Government, while appreciating its efforts so far, to increase its assistance to IDPs in the state and we equally call on international donor agencies as well as wealthy Nigerians to come to the aid of the IDPs,” the statement said.
The Governor also reiterated his commitment to continue with the supply of three square meals on a daily basis to the over 5,000 internally displaced persons in the state.
The statement added that apart from the meals, government would ensure the supply of constant water and healthcare facilities with the aim of improving the lives of the IDPs in the state.
“This administration would also ensure that the makeshift classes for primary and secondary school pupils in the camp introduced by this administration is sustained alongside the provision of sporting facilities and skills acquisition programme to interested IDPs,” the statement concluded.
The security situation in Nigeria, especially in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states came to the fore on the Sunday July 13 edition of Rubbin’ Minds on Channels Television.
The three states have been under a State of Emergency for over a year having been extended by the Nigerian Government. However, something many do not know is that Nigeria has been rated to have the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Africa with a figure of 3.3million.
A report by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), “Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence,” stated that the number of internally displaced persons in Nigeria is approximately a third of the IDPs in Africa and 10 per cent of IDPs in the world.
In 2013 alone, 470,500 persons were displaced in Nigeria and this is the third highest in the world, behind Syria with 6.5 million and Colombia with 5.7 million.
The Executive Director, Action to Yield Aid for Hopeful Adults and the Young (AYAHAY), Mariam Augie, and a Security Expert, Nnamdi Anekwe, were on the programme to discuss issues surrounding this and efforts at offering support.
Ms Augie noted that the issue of displaced persons was very new to Nigerians because reports have always mainly focused on attacks and the number of deaths but not the people suffering from the aftermath of such violence.
She noted that while there were 3.3 million Nigerians directly affected by the insurgency, another 9 million were indirectly affected, a situation which called for the efforts of everyone to help those affected and shift attention to those who survived the attacks, as Government agencies alone cannot handle it.
Speaking about the current efforts being made to cater to the refugee victims of the insurgency in Nigeria, she stated that the notable help coming for the displaced persons has been in form of the accommodating nature of Nigerians with communities helping to provide shelter as there were no camps created but noted that there is a limit to how far this would help.
Mr Anekwe, also added that some individuals and leaders in Adamawa State have been setting up initiatives to come to the aid of the displaced persons. He, however, advised that it was important for camps and alternative accommodations to be provided.
Although Ms Augie shared the view that host communities may have been so far preferred over camps by authorities because of security reasons, she agreed with Anekwe and warned that if the situation got worse, the country would have no choice.
“From eating 3 square meals a day to one square meal a day, 500 people to one toilet, no water, sanitation, health facilities are almost obsolete, so we know that it’s a really terrible situation”, she said, as she decried the living conditions of victims of insurgency in the affected region.
Mr Anekwe also spoke about the implications of having such number of displaced persons on the country. He highlighted the level of sophistication of the insurgents and noted that fighting them should not be left alone to the Government.
Both guests also warned against allowing the bombings and other attacks to continue with children growing up with the idea of violence on their minds, as this would be more detrimental to the future of the country.
Ms Augie also provided an insight into the activities of her organisation, which is made up of individuals who fearlessly came together to design a plan on how to help the victims of insurgency in North-East Nigeria.
She explained that they started out by contacting agencies like the Red Cross and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to know what their needs were, as the mission of the AYAHAY was to complement Government efforts and the international organisations that were already helping out, as they also believed that the international community should not be left to fight Nigerians’ battles.
“From mattresses to mosquito nets to grains, insecticides, female kits and anything within your reach, anything it is that you can give, we will appreciate it”, she said.