Wednesday, 23 March 2016

10 billion not enough..

N10 billion for IDP’s resettlement not enough.

The Senate last week voted N10 billion for the care and resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) in Nigeria’s troubled North East and other parts of the country. This was sequel to a motion championed by Senator Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District in the prestigious Red Chamber of the National Assembly.

Ndume also called for the release of grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve to help in feeding the displaced persons and also the repatriation of Nigerians who fled to Chad, Niger and Cameroon for inclusion in the rehabilitation plan.

We want to add our voice, once again, to efforts to bring more hands on deck in dealing with the protracted issue of IDP’s care and rehabilitation as the various state governments, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross have stretched their resources and efforts to the limit. We must all be involved in reducing the suffering of these citizens driven off their homes by the Boko Haram Islamist terrorists and (for the IDP’s of the North Central areas) rampaging armed Fulani cattle herders.

The tasks before us include the feeding and care of the IDP’s in their respective camps as well as the relocation, resettlement and rehabilitation of those whose communities are considered safe enough for them to return. Schools are to be reopened and communities rebuilt. These will cost a lot of money. The N10 billion will be like a drop in the ocean.

In an atmosphere of dwindling federal allocation, Borno State, for instance, with more than thirty IDP camps and over two million mouths to feed everyday, needs all the help it can get to cope. This is more so as the government has embarked on the movement of some the IDP’s from school premises back to liberated communities to enable academic activities to resume after two years of closure.

It is unfortunate that N58 billion which the Victim Support Programme raised through the efforts of multibillionaires, General Theophilus Danjuma and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has been bedevilled by poor response by those who pledged financial assistance. The Federal Government should support the Fund to recover the pledges and help in making life better for the displaced persons.

We must drum it loud and clear that the care of displaced persons is the responsibility of governments with the active and eager assistance of members of the community. We must be our brother’s keepers. Anyone can become a victim in the wake of crisis.

As society becomes more complex and crisis-prone, we must be ready to confront the challenge of caring for victims of unplanned natural and man-made disasters beyond the modest efforts of NEMA.

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