NIGERIA AND THE DICE OF DISPLACEMENT

0

What does it feel like to be forced to flee? To hurriedly pack up leaving sand and stars behind in a place that provided succor and sanctuary for as long as one knew because it was home. It is better imagined. But like a welcome mat, displacement is now the reality of many who had stable lives in the Northeast.

Out of Nigeria`s sobering nightmare rolls the riotously uncertain dice of displacement. Large families are forced to flee slaughter with nothing but the clothes on their backs, uncertainty melding with terror. They leave their farms behind, they leave their cattle behind, they leave everything behind.

They resume in camps where congestion conduces to disease and abuse, not to talk of the toll constant running takes on the psyche. In Nigeria`s Northeast, children strapped to their mothers` backs know how the pulse pounds differently in the footrace of survival; children still coming to grips with the use of their feet know the soreness that results from Nigeria`s rat-race of survival.

To survive, a people have to live on the run, the scantest attention paid to their bodies, their minds, the uniquely indescribable binds of familial love and the future of many innocent children. Instead, a skittish nation pricks up its ears straining to hear the blast of Boko Haram`s bombs boomeranging on a country that has failed to be proactive.

For how long shall people continue to run? Until when pregnant woman can bring her child into the world in a hospital and not on the run? In a country of millions caught in a marathon with minions, shall the cheetah be outpaced by the centipede? Displacement must be absolutely gut-wrenching. It is better left to the imagination. But like other horrors, it is the lived reality of many.

On December 31, 2021, as earlier announced, Borno State closed all the IDP camps within Maiduguri, thereby sending IDPs back to volatile communities in which what is left is straight out of Boko Haram`s book of blood.

Last year, the House of Representatives comically worked itself into a lather over the continued refusal of the NYSC to reopen its camp in Borno State even as peace had supposedly returned to the state. Governor Zulum must ignore those who having been fattened by Nigeria`s milk now seek to milk it of every iota of clarity.

It seems it is the preoccupation of some people to argue that Borno State has become safe and as such, things should return to normal. But that is a load of wishful thinking. Terrorist activities in the state are unrelenting in spite of the heroic efforts of the Nigerian Army.

Every Nigerian of goodwill desires that Borno State should be safe and secure for all its residents. But with Boko Haram and ISWAP still in full and forceful operation, that appears a tall order. Until then, it serves little good to insist that the state has become peaceful.

In his new year message on January 1, the Borno State Governor Mr. Babagana Zulum said that criminal activities going on in the camps had disposed them to closure. But who does not now know that in Nigeria the sticky squalor of many an IDP camp is fodder for criminal activities?

Being an IDP in Nigeria is not just a nightmare – the nightmare has the terror of terrorists and the indiscretion of government officials as chief players.

Kene Obiezu,

keneobiezu@gmail.com