Local Reintegration: For the Good of All By Emmanuel Ariyo
I have read a lot of for and against arguments regarding the movement of persons from one state to the other in Nigeria. I am however surprised that in all of these arguments put up so far, the need to try to explain what it actually means to live from the point of Law has not been given the deserved attention. Even though I am not a Lawyer, I know for sure that the mere appearance in or occupation of a space does not automatically confer legitimacy of residency. If that was not the point of law, then almost all of Lagos residents for example would live in places like Ikoyi, Ilupeju, Victoria Island etc. In fact as a Nigerian you could take your pillow and mattress, find a space in Aso rock and occupy. After all, the constitution gives every citizen the right to freely live anywhere in Nigeria. But as we can see practically that’s not the case.
So if there are expectations or obligations to be fulfilled to qualify as living in a place. I think the next logical questions to ask about the different Nigerian Citizens being reintegrated by the various State Governments are 1.If these people do have houses they live in their adopted states? 2.If they have Jobs or family to take care of them? But the most important question is if they have homes to return every night whether rented or a family’s? It is not a must that they are employed. If the answers to these two important questions are negative, then it will be very wrong to legally describe them as living in their adopted states rather they have been wandering.
If truly these affected citizens involved don’t have homes or known relatives and any means of fending for themselves in their adopted state, one of the very logical thing to do by a responsible government will be to have an effective policy that profiles and identify these group of citizens, rehabilitates them and there after ensure their reunion to any known living family member.
There is absolutely no point for leaders or anyone to play politics or become unnecessarily sentimental about this issue. As it is popularly known resources are finite and not infinite. That being the case, it means the government can only manage with the resources available to it and not act as if to say it has infinite resources. So if a state government identifies Nigerian citizens with this kind of peculiarity in its domain, whatever remedial assistance offered by government can only be temporary and not permanent. So that it can continually offer others in same situation help when the need arise in future. Ideally, it should eventually be the responsibilities of every family to ensure one of their own at least has food to eat and a place to sleep. That is not saying that the states cannot offer this group of citizens’ job or shelter where and when it can.
In as much as I will not want to play the blame game on the recent disagreement between Lagos and Anambra State governments over recent transportation of some Anambra indigenes from Lagos to Anambra State. In the light of the points raised earlier, I think the reintegration idea is a very commendable one. My advise to the various state governments is to use a forum like that of the Governors to fashion out a standardized and agreed template of implementing this policy. The positives are far much more than the negatives. This policy if well executed will certainly restore the human dignity of persons affected and also affect positively the general security plans of individual states and the nation at large.
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