Cleric Says National Unity, Integration Will End Conflicts In Nigeria

mathew-kukahIntegration and national unity as the only solution to the conflicts in the northeast, Niger Delta and the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, a cleric of the Catholic church says.

In his speech at the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in Abuja on Friday, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, expressed the belief that national unity would overcome ethnicity and nepotism, which, in his opinion still reign in Nigeria.

He told political leaders to always carry the people along in all that they do.

‪”The question is; what are the aggregate ingredients? What are kind of tangible realities? What are the things we need to bring together to be able to enhance national integration?

“Now, tragically for us in Nigeria, now more than ever before, we have never been as frustrated, as disunited in almost every sense of the world as we are today and it is not enough to blame the APC. It is not enough to blame Buhari. It is about the fact that somehow something had been creeping in on us and finally has caught up with us.

“Now the question is, can this country still remain united? Yes, it can and it depends on how we understand the concept of unity.

“I often say that one of the difficulties in Nigeria is that the people who are the followers are better equipped, better educated, more intelligent and even more passionate than those who govern them,” Bishop Kukah added.

UN Calls For Urgent Life-Saving Measures In Nigeria’s Northeast

IDPsThe United Nations is asking the Nigerian government and the international community to take urgent humanitarian measures to save lives and ensure the protection of hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the nation’s northeast.

The United Nations expert on IDPs, Chaloka Beyani, made the call on Monday after a four-day visit to Nigeria.

Signs Of Advanced Malnutrition

Mr Beyani described the situation resulting from the over six years of Boko Haram terror campaign and Government counter-insurgency measures as “displaying all the hallmarks of the highest category crises”.

“We are only starting to get a grip of the gravity and extent of the crisis, as civilians, including children, leave newly liberated areas.

“They bear the signs of advanced malnutrition, and of deep trauma, having been caught in a conflict that has cost them their homes, their livelihoods and often their family members,” Mr. Beyani said.

The expert pointed out that the fighting had created more than 2.5 million IDPs in the region.

In a statement issued on Monday the UN expert on IDPs said: “The situation must no longer be downplayed and it is not too late to save many lives. But to do this, the Government must act urgently to ensure that food, shelter, medical care, water, sanitation and other essential services reach IDPs without delay.

“Due to a gross underestimation of the crisis, the existing supplies will only cover needs for a very short period of time and will be soon outstripped by demands in the weeks or months ahead,” he said.

According to the UN expert, “the vast majority of IDPs live outside camps and receive little or no assistance. Urgent steps are required to identify those people and assess their needs, particularly those of the most vulnerable, as well as the needs of host communities who are supporting them with their own resources”.

“Settings For Exploitation”

The Special Rapporteur, who visited IDP camps in the Maiduguri area, highlighted that many people within camps in newly liberated areas may be faring little better.

“Food is scarce and many survive on one basic meal per day while medical care is insufficient. Civilians also require urgent protection, psychosocial support and counselling.

“Humanitarian agencies have little access to some areas due to security concerns and have been targeted by Boko Haram, whose terror activities have been contained by the Nigerian military but still pose a significant threat and danger.

“Camps should offer protection. Yet I am alarmed to learn that many are in fact the settings for exploitation and abuse of the most vulnerable. Reports indicate that women and girls face demands for sex to access food or to leave the camps.

“Early pregnancy and marriage are commonplace while many do not report abuse due to stigmatisation, cultural factors and the knowledge that perpetrators can abuse with impunity. Protection measures must be stepped-up and camps must quickly come under trained civilian management to prevent abuses,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur also acknowledged several positive measures taken by the Government such as a plan for rehabilitating the north-east and the establishment of oversight systems by the Parliament.

However, he expressed concern about the lack of international attention and resources to meet the immense needs in the region.

He called on donors to provide generous support to meet immediate needs and to enhance their long-term support, to ensure the return, reconstruction and durable solutions for IDPs as well as stability and social cohesion in the region.

The Special Rapporteur thanked the Nigerian Federal Government and the Borno State Government for their cooperation with his mandate. He will produce a full report and recommendations to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2017.

Mr Beyani’s call is coming few days after UNICEF said that about 49,000 persons are at risk of death before the end of the year if nothing was done.

UNICEF has also called for nutritious foods and community mobilisers that will go from door to door in the affected region to get the affected children to places they could be treated.

Rescued Chibok Girl In Abuja Says She Wants To Go Home

Amina AliOne of the over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls rescued from Boko Haram after two years in captivity in northeast Nigeria said she just wants to go home.

Amina Ali and her four-month-old baby were rescued in May near Damboa in Borno State by soldiers and a civilian vigilante group, more than two years after being kidnapped by the Islamist militants from a school in Chibok in northeast Nigeria.

After her rescue sparked a blaze of global media attention, the 21-year-old and her child have since been hidden away in a house in the capital Abuja for what the Nigerian government has called a “restoration process”.
She granted an interview to Reuters.

In her first interview since her rescue she said: “I just want to go home – I don’t know about school.

“I will decide about school when I get back, but I have no idea when I will be going home,” Ali said, speaking softly while staring at the ground.

Boko Haram kidnapped 219 girls from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014, as part of an insurgency which began in 2009 to set up an Islamic state in the north that has killed some 15,000 people and displaced more than two million.

Some girls escaped in the melee but parents of those still missing accused former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s then leader, of not doing enough to find their daughters, whose disappearance sparked a global campaign #bringbackourgirls.

Ali spoke to Reuters days after the Islamist group published a video showing dozen of the girls.

In the video published by the militants on social media on Sunday, a masked man stands behind a group of the girls, and says some of their classmates have been killed in air strikes.

While Ali had not heard about the video, she said Boko Haram had told the abducted girls that everyone was looking for them.

“I think about them a lot – I would tell them to be hopeful and prayerful,” Ali said. “In the same way God rescued me, he will also rescue them.”

Eating Raw Maize

Ali, who was found by the army in May along with a suspected Boko Haram militant, Mohammed Hayatu, claiming to be her husband, said she was unhappy to have been separated from the father of her four-month-old baby girl.

“I want him to know that I am still thinking about him,” Ali said, relaxing and lifting her gaze off the ground only to breastfeed her child when she was brought into the room to feed.

“Just because we got separated, that does not mean that I don’t think about him,” Ali added.

Ali’s mother, Binta Ali spent two months with her daughter before going home to Chibok. She said last month she feared for Ali’s future.

She said her daughter had wanted to further her education before being kidnapped, but now she was afraid of school and wanted a sewing machine to start a business making clothes.

Ali told her mother earlier this month that the girls, who are being held in Sambisa forest, were starved and resorted to eating raw maize, and that some had died in captivity, suffered broken legs or gone deaf after being too close to explosions.