What Are The Sins Of Homeless Nigerians – The IDPS By Boluwatife Adekunle
It’s one of such days where it would seem the writer of this article woke up to a rather sobering morning. I couldn’t help but ask again the very question I am sure many concerned Nigerians home and abroad have asked on numerous occasions. And naturally it’s almost sounding like rhetoric. Nonetheless, I believe as a people we must continue to scream and overwork our voice until the deaf finally get the message.
I understand several NGOs as well as media houses have been ringing bell on the welfare of IDPs hanging on for life in many camps across the nation especially in the north eastern part of the country a region literarily deemed as theatre of war. How we arrived here is no longer a popular question as it is widely accepted to be the failure of successive governments to tackle head-on the menace called Boko Haram.
The terrorist sect was in 2002 birthed like wild beast that waited seven years later to be monstrous and since 2009 till date it has been bloodshed upon bloodshed. They’ve carried out the most heinous crime in human history and given our dear country a name we’ve never been known for.
An average westerner or foreigner as the case may be would long before the emergence of Boko Haram called Nigerians all series of names; scammers, schemers, liars, 419s but never would they address or call them terrorists. Reality is telling a different story today but the fact remains that the long run of sad events in North east is definitely “Un-Nigerian” and this foreign veil that is fast overshadowing our heritage, the tolerating nature of our people would by divine intervention be dragged down and flung straight to pit of hell. Terrorism will not define us. We are a people rich in culture, loving and accommodating.
Many patriotic Nigerians never cease to hit at full volume issues involving IDPs, what I found baffling is the worsen state of things, it would seem the more we bring the plights of IDPs to fore the more deteriorating their situation become, their well-being is abysmal. The environment and physical shape of camps is complete eyesore. It’s far worsening than the conditions of Africans on slave ships that were transported to the Americas, over 15 million of them between 1540 and 1850.
It is unfortunate to see before our eyes compatriots been catered for in manner similar to events of 16th century and this inhumane treatment goes on unabated whilst the appropriate authorities to check mate the activities of NEMA keep mum or simply look away.
We need not be reminded that these vulnerable Nigerians are in this quagmire owning to no fault of theirs – I sometimes wonder what would be the fate of foreigners should the situation in our hands a case of people fleeing from war outside our shores or simply put refugees or asylum seekers. It is unimaginable what their destiny would be if we could be unsympathetic to our own people.
Meanwhile, it is important to note that in the course of battling management crisis of IDPs there are overwhelming figures been thrown around and if these billions of naira is anything to hold forth, then its physical representation on various camps across the land is far cry from reality.
In as much as this episode might not necessarily be a case of mismanagement or otherwise, on the other hand I couldn’t bring myself to accept that some people could be enriching themselves from the fallout of funds meant to enhance the living condition of internally displaced persons in the country. It is callous, inhuman and devilish.
There are also allegations of nefarious activities within IDPs camps, ranging from human trafficking to physical abuse, sexual harassment, rape and so forth. Also, in the absence of data management, human ritual bands are alleged to be having field day picking victims at will. IDPs in Nigeria are molested, assaulted, mistreated, they’re physically abused, victimized and mishandled –one could not but ask this disturbing question, what are the sins of internally displaced persons?
Couple of days back, reports on forced relocation of IDPs from Christian home for the needy in Edo State were all over our screens. I must emphasize the point that visuals of ensuing drama following the announcement were heart-rending, it was emotional scenery for me and I hope such insensitive decision never reoccurs or see the light of the day ever again.
However, there was an unexpected comment from a victim in the camp, a young man whom I presume to be in his early twenties (maybe 20, 21). He said in an interview and I quote…
“…If we are one Nigeria, is Edo State not in Nigeria, so Edo State is in Nigeria but they say, they should carry us to north is it because that we have come from north and me as a citizen now or all of us here as citizens, we have freedom of movement we can go everywhere in Nigeria, to come to Edo State is not matter of visa because we are all citizens of Nigeria…”
Why it is that internally displaced persons are treated as second class citizens in their homeland?
Here are my immediate and long term solutions on the matter.
Turkey currently harbours high figure of refugees from Syrian, Afghans and Iraqis over 1.5million and it is expected to rise to 1.9million by the end of the year [according to UNHCR].
In the short term –Federal government should as a matter of urgency constitute and send a committee to Republic of Turkey to borrow a leaf from Turkish government on management and handling of Refugees and asylum seekers in Izmir and other parts of the Eurasian country. Their protection measures and access to public services could be worthy of emulation.
New North East
The long term measures present rapid reconstruction and redevelopment of North East, therefore Federal government must give utmost attention to the –economically most backward and less developed region in the country. To achieve this in not too long a time would require huge deployment of resources, man power and devotion.
State governments should endeavour to come up with programs that would address the needs of IDPs in their respective states. If the 36 states of federation could design plans to welcome and cater for IDPs in their domains, I have no doubt in my mind that it would go a long way in solving the many challenges of IDPs in our land.