Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja decried the conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria, saying they were pathetic.
The president made the lamentation while receiving the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, in the State House, Abuja.
A statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president told the ICRC president that some children could no longer locate their parents neither could they recall their nativities.
According to Adesina, Buhari applauded the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organisations to Nigeria, stating that the country is currently focusing on education, healthcare and infrastructure development.
“The situation of the displaced persons is very pathetic. Some children don’t know where their parents are, neither do they know where they come from.
“We are focusing on education and healthcare, along with rebuilding of infrastructure. The agency formerly under the leadership of Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retired) and now headed by Major-General Paul Tarfa (rtd) is quietly making an impression. We are dedicating lots of resources to the area,” he quoted the president as saying.
Adesina also said Buhari told his guest that Boko Haram had been degraded and described insurgents as bandits who must be treated as such.
“Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands.
“That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such,” he was further quoted.
The statement said Buhari disclosed that the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and securing their communities to enable them return home.
It also said the president disclosed that notable progress had been made in assuaging the minds of people that insurgency is not a religious affair.
“How can you kill people, and say ‘God is great?’ It’s either you don’t know that God, or you don’t know what you are talking about. God is God of justice. And the people have understood the message well, so recruiting is now difficult for the insurgents,” the phone was quoted.
According to the statement, Maurer in his remarks, described Nigeria as the fifth largest operation of ICRC worldwide, adding that the organisation would continue to render humanitarian services to victims of violence.
It also said Maurer spoke on the recent killings of two ICRC officials in the North-east, saying, “we are shaken by the killing of our staff, but not discouraged. Humanitarian assistance should continue, and we applaud the hospitality of Nigeria.”
Adesina also said Maurer told Buhari that ICRC’s relationship with Nigeria would be further strengthened, submitting that “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”
Briefing State House reporters later, Maurer who said he had visited the North-east, disclosed that the group would continue to pursue the release of Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu and other persons held captive by Boko Haram.
He also lamented the conditions of IDPs, adding however, that Nigeria’s humanitarian laws are relevant globally.