Dogara: War against Terrorism Not Totally Won 

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• Says govt can’t surrender displaced persons’ welfare to NGOs

By James Emejo in Abuja

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has flayed government agencies for failing to play their roles in providing succour to the internally displaced persons (IDPs), leaving them at the mercy of faith-based and non-governmental organisations (NG0s). 

Speaking at the weekend when he paid a visit to Karmajiji IDP camp in Abuja,  where he flagged off a medical outreach for over 2,000 people in the camp, the speaker  noted that though the appropriate thing would be to return them to their communities, they cannot be left on their own because the war on terrorism has not totally been won, which puts their lives at risk in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents. 

He also called for integration of IDPs into neigbouring communities as it has become apparent that structures needed to be put in place for them to return to their various homes in the North-east have not been put in place.

The Speaker further expressed dismay at the appalling condition in which IDPs live in the camps even when they are in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that this should not be the case in the country.

He insisted government have to live up to their responsibilities to provide social services to brothers and sisters who are direly in need of them, particularly victims of the on-going war on terrorism. 

According to him, “It is turning out to be a long stay, I don’t know how we will approach this, whether this act of intervention on the part of the NGOs and faith-based organisations will be enough, or whether government should look for other means by which we can integrate the IDPs themselves, as against rushing them back to their communities where they could be displaced again. So that is the task that we all must set our minds to accomplish.

“We need to integrate them if we cannot send them back to their communities in the nearest possible time. That effort must be made by the government, not even NGOs, NGOs and faith-based organisations can also support, but the government must stand up and be counted.”

He added: “I’ve heard the desire expressed by the director of the camp, that you would love to return back home. Of course that should be the goal of the government as well, that wherever IDPs are, Nigerian citizens, in the F.C.T, in the South, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, that we quickly get them back home. But the truth is that it would be very difficult to do that before the war on terrorism is won.

“Only few days ago, someone told me that some of the IDPs who returned to Bama were being forced out, or displaced again. For some of them, this may be the second or third displacement. If that were to be the case, it would be very unfortunate for any of our brothers or sisters to be subjected to this row of bloodletting that would force them out of their communities. 

“So the responsibilities on the shoulders of government is to first of all make sure that the war is won, and our brothers and sisters can return back home in dignity and honor and with the kind of peace that we desire for them. But right now, it is unfortunate that we have to manage; the way we are managing.” 

He added: “It is a big surprise to me that here we do not have representatives of security agencies and other critical Stakeholders like the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), The Refugees Commission, and so on, and so forth. Its these stakeholders that should normally take the responsibility of providing succor to our brothers and sisters: the IDPs.

“It is really unfortunate that they are not here, because this would have been an ample opportunity to see firsthand the very pitiable condition under which the IDPs  are living, and through that formulate a channel of responses that will take care of their immediate needs.”

He, however,  assured the IDPs that he will work with the committee on IDPsof the House of Representatives to ensure that something is done in term of the supply of food items to them and will work with the authorities in the FCT to ensure at least that the kids in that particular camp are enrolled in school, “because that is very important.”