At the Senate plenary session on Wednesday, a motion was moved by Senator Ali Ndume on “the state of humanitarian relief efforts in North East Nigeria despite huge funding”. He raised the issue of the N130 billion donor funding that had been received and the lack of a commensurate improvement in the welfare of the beneficiaries – the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Senator Ndume also mentioned that the United Nations, NGOs, various international communities and the Federal Government have donated large amounts of money and relief items to the IDP camps and yet, the impact is hardly visible. The Senate puts the number of IDPs at this:
But all these misfortune is nothing compared to what descended on this same group of people on Tuesday. A military jet “mistakenly” dropped a bomb on a civilian settlement called Rann in Borno state. We’re told it’s a genuine mistake on the part of the Nigerian military and it didn’t take President Muhammadu Buhari so long to publicly acknowledge and apologise for this grave error. The military spokesperson who first confirmed the news mentioned specifically that the bomb didn’t land on an IDP camp but “a civilian settlement”. A very lazy attempt at watering down the enormity of his team’s “mistake”. Contrarily, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that 6 of its workers were killed in the accidental discharge and 13 others were wounded. Their tweet stated that these victims were “part of a team bringing desperately needed food for more than 25,000 displaced people in Rann NE“.
Even in a most humbling situation as this, the IDPs still do not have the attention of the President. Yes, he was quick to react to the mishap but he has again failed to show up to at least sympathise in person. The recent deliberation held by the Senate is not the first of its kind, the ad hoc committee that brought the Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal as a culprit before the House seems to have been rested when the crisis it was set to up to investigate still persists. Babachir Lawal and other individuals and organisations that have been publicly named in this siphoning scandal still walk free, President Buhari despite the allegations raised against the SGF has yet to make a move towards ordering his removal from office.
The victims of Nigeria’s greatest tribulation have hardly any access to decent shelter, feeding or even education (let’s not even stretch it). The healthcare that they get is mostly from voluntary organisations, of whom six have just been carelessly or rather “mistakenly” killed. After years of being haunted and maimed by insurgents, one would expect that the federal government would commit to quickly getting the victims back on their feet but no, it is knocking them down deeper into the ground. It is sad to say but there’s hardly any hope for IDPs in North East Nigeria beyond what a few NGOs and other relief-providing organisations have to offer.
We continue to kill them, not only by mistake but also by our constant failure to truly attend to their very many needs.