*Faults Plans By Federal Government To Airdrop Relief Materials In Lawless Parts Of Borno State:
A Statement By The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group; Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) Warning The Federal Government Against Using The Proposed Airdrops Of Relief Materials To Vulnerable Places In Borno State As Another Gambit To Defraud Nigeria Of Billions Of Naira In The Name Of Feeding IDPs When It’s A Notorious Fact That Borno Communities Are Deserted, And Relatedly Dismissing As Pedestrian The Statement By The International Office For Migration (IOM) That Social Media Is A Major Tool Influencing Young Nigerians To Want To Migrate To Foreign Countries In Search Of Greener Pastures, Affirming That Insecurity Is At The Root Cause Of Migration.
Nigeria has for a decade been embroiled in a huge humanitarian emergency occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency and armed Fulani Herdsmen attacks, the fallout of which called for the biggest crisis management operations since the civil war over fifty years ago. Thousands of people have been killed and properties worth millions of U.S. dollars have been destroyed.
The pertinent level and dimensions of insecurity in Nigeria reveals an increase over time, which constitutes serious threat to lives and properties, hinders business activities and discourages local and foreign investors, all which stifles and retards Nigeria’s socio-economic development.
This rising wave of insecurity has not abated but has assumed a dangerous dimension, which is threatening the corporate existence of the country as one geographical entity. In the light of the above, the country has over the years witnessed massive displacements, poverty and hunger in an aggravated scale, which has in turn increased the migration profile of Nigeria as against the statement by the International Office for Migration that social media is a major tool influencing young Nigerians to want to migrate to foreign countries in search of greener pastures.
The drivers of displacement in Nigeria are multi-faceted and complex and often overlap. The militant Islamist group; Boko Haram has triggered significant displacement in the north-east of the country since 2014.
Violent attacks by armed Fulani Herdsmen on farmers have caused tensions in the North-central region, culminating in significant levels of deaths, destruction of properties and displacements.
Long-standing ethnic conflict between Fulani pastoralists and Hausa farmers in north-western Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states has also triggered displacement. Flooding displaces thousands of people every year.
According to data obtained from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, as at the end of 2019, about 2.6 million people were living in displacement. Conflict and violence led to 248,000 new displacements across 19 states in 2019. The ongoing insurgency in the north-east triggered 105,000, criminal violence in the north-west and north central states accounted for 88,000, and communal violence in the central region gave rise to 55,000.
On the other hand, while more than 82 million Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, forty percent of people in Nigeria live in poverty, according to figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics office in May, 2020, which showed and highlighting the low levels of wealth in a country that has Africa’s biggest economy.
These and so many other indices have escalated the mass exodus of Nigerians to find security, work and new ways of life in other countries.
Relatedly, in the light of the assertion by the Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly; Abdulkareem Lawan that Guzamala, Marte and Abadam local government areas have no people living in them, it has become worrisome the rationale behind the recent disclosure by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq that the Federal Government is to commence the massive airdrop of relief materials to dangerous and inaccessible areas of Borno State.
According to media reports, the Minister had over the weekend disclosed that the Federal Government was donating to the vulnerable people in Borno State 26,067 bags of 12.5kg parboiled rice; 26,067 bags of 25kg beans; 26,067 bags of 12.5kg maize/millet; 1,304 bags of 20kg iodized salt; 2,607 kegs of vegetable oil; 4,345 cartons of seasoning cubes; 2,173 cartons of tin tomato.
Our Concerns And Demands
Given that the speaker of Borno House of Assembly had stated clearly that most of the rural areas in Borno are deserted, who then would be the beneficiaries of the massive airdrop of relief materials?
We recall that earlier in April, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army; Senator Muhammadu Ali Ndume called for the disbandment of the Presidential Committee on the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives, alleging fraud in the distribution exercise.
Senator Ndume had alleged that the data generated for Social Investment Program (SIP) register, on the basis of which the palliatives are being distributed, does not reflect the reality of the poverty level in the country.
Therefore, we are by this statement warning the federal government against using this as another gambit to defraud Nigeria of billions of Naira in the name of feeding IDPs when it’s a notorious fact that Borno communities are deserted. So who do they want to feed between Boko haram terrorists and Ghost IDPs?
It would be recalled that in a related statement we issued earlier on the alleged widespread corruption, which characterised the implementation of the social investment programme and the school feeding programme, we restated our demands for the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to take up the challenge for a public debate on the administration of school feeding programme especially the sessions that happened whilst schools were on lockdown.
Till now, the Minister is yet to respond to our challenge for a public debate while her supporters resorted to physical and media threats.
Secondly, the statement by the International Office for Migration that that social media has influenced many more migrations than insecurity is unimaginative as Insecurity is at the root cause of Migration.
Nigerians being a federation of persons from diverse backgrounds live in the North and South and so it is illogical to blame social media for Migration when it is clear that half of Nigeria has become ungovernable due to terrorism and attacks by Boko Haram terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen coupled with the general breakdown of Law and order in the North West and North Central.
We hereby demand that the government must be proactive in dealing with security issues and threats, through modern methods of intelligence gathering, and sharing among security personnel, training, logistics, motivation, and deploying advanced technology including functional drones in managing security challenges.
The real solution to migration lies in government accelerating the pace of economic development through creating an economy with relevant social, economic and physical infrastructure to support business and industrial growth. INSECURITY IS AT THE ROOT OF MIGRATION.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko:
Miss. Zainab Yusuf:
Director, National Media Affairs.
Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA).
September 8th 2020.