Accuse federal, state govts of lacking political will in addressing plight of IDPs
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have released report on its findings on humanitarian conditions in six states of the Northeast, accusing both the federal government and its counterpart in the Northeast ravaged by Boko Haram insurgents of lacking the political will to address the humanitarian challenge in that region.
Similarly, rights activists in their contributions on the draft report presented at a media forum in Abuja, warned that the nation may be heading for another disaster if urgent and concrete steps are not taken to address issues of development and good governance, particularly in the North east.
In the report tagged: â€˜North East Nigeria: Human Rights Assessment Report (2015-2017), the two bodies did not only accused the government of making paltry provisions to address urgent needs of the victims of Boko Haram insurgents, but failing to release budgetary allocations to the region.
The indictment notwithstanding, acting Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Oti Ovrawah, told the gathering that the report was not aimed at apportioning blame on government but, was rather meant to draw attention to the dire humanitarian crises of re-building region.
The report noted that in 2014, the government provided N2billon, and increased it to N6.6billion and N14.3billion in 2015 and 2016 respectively which it regarded as paltry in addressing humanitarian needs such as basic security, food, health, housing, education among others in the six states devastated by Boko Haram.
â€œHowever, the central provisions for the main intervention in the Northeast as shown above are evidently paltry and will only scratch the surface of the required humanitarian needs.
â€œThey do not show sufficient political will to address the humanitarian challenge. This paltry provisions point in the direction of state failure to perform the obligation to fulfill the right to an adequate standard of living for the IDPs,â€ the report noted.
Presenting the report, the Lead Consultant, Eze Onyekwere, disclosed further that as at July 2016, â€œA total of N8.352bn had been released to the Presidential Initiative on the North-East, (PINE), N6.326billion had been spent leaving a balance of N2.026billion.
â€œHowever, PINE paid less attention to the critical needs of the IDPs in the areas of housing, food, education and healthcare, but rather used the bulk of the resources on contracts that were found to have immensely benefitted some public officials, including the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.â€
On the states, the report noted that while Yobe State made various budgetary allocations to the state Emergency Relief Agency for procurement of undisclosed relief materials between 2013 and 2016, there is no information as to the actual disbursement for those years.
It also indicted Bauchi State Government for not making any provisions for IDPs and humanitarian services for 2016 and 2017, while commending Borno State for creating the Ministry for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement to handle the reconstruction and resettlement of IDPs.
â€œWith the exception of Borno State, which was devastated, all other states seemed to have treated the humanitarian challenges arising from the insurgency with kid gloves.
â€œThe provisions made were grossly inadequate for the challenge facing the people.â€
The report recommended that government at all levels should mobilise more resources through the budgeting system for investments and interventions in the Northeast.
It also recommended the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to enable stakeholders openly discuss about the insurgency and how wounds could be healed.
Speaking at the event, convener of Women of Arise Network, Dr. Joe-Oke Odumakin, and Co-convener of Bring Back Our Girls, Mrs. Aisha Yesufu, called for the prosecution of individuals that were involved in the heinous crime of undermining the welfare of IDPs.
They urged the government to take the issue of education of children seriously if the war on Boko Haram must be won.