Almost two months after a military jet mistakenly bombed a camp for internally displaced persons in the town of Rann in Borno State, the Federal Government through the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI) presented a cash support of N10,000 to 58 victims of the bombing.
Expectedly, this support was met with criticism and condemnation by many Nigerians, who say that the amount was a pittance and would go nowhere in either paying their medical bills or supporting them financially.
This is a position that YNaija agrees with: N10,000 is too meager an amount for compensating the victims of the bombing.
But besides just presenting the victims with cash, the Federal Government has to go beyond in assuaging the pain and misery of the victims.
For starters, the Nigerian Air Force is yet to release the report of its investigation into the bombing one month after the deadline for the submission of the report. This is usually the trend with Nigerian situations and crises, where panels of inquiry are set up and forgotten about. As a result, the reports which ought to detail the root causes of the situations are never known, and how to avoid them in future is made harder.
It is also shameful that the exact number of people affected by the bombing, whether killed or injured, is still not known. While the official sources say between 50 and 57 people were killed, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) put the number at 170 people and the chairman of Kala Balge Local Government where Rann is based disclosed that 234 bodies had been buried after the incident.
If the exact number of those affected by the bombing, how then will the government do a thorough effort at any disaster relief, whether it is cash support or medical care?
Lastly, like this newspaper has said before, the most enduring way of providing relief for those affected by the bombing is by ensuring that they and all other internally displaced persons are adequately cared for. It must ensure that all funds for that purpose are judiciously used and do not end up in private accounts.
However, this goal is still far from being met: no one has been arrested or prosecuted for diverting funds meant for that goal even when there is evidence, such as in the situation of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal. Allegations of relief materials being diverted and resold are still rife, and IDPs still complain of not receiving proper feeding.
The Federal Government must not think that its cash donation is adequate, and must go beyond it to ensure that the probe report of the incident is made public and that how IDPs are cared for is improved.
Anything short of this will remain a blot on its conscience.
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