The Speaker House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has called for the integration of internally displaced persons into neighbouring communities.
Mr Dogara said the call was necessary 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.
He 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.
Speaking when he paid a visit to Karmajiji IDPs camp in Abuja, where he flagged off medical outreach for over 2000 people in the camp, Mr. Dogara also flayed government agencies for failing to play their roles in providing succour for the internally displaced persons and leaving them at the mercy of faith-based and non-governmental organisations.
He said, “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 N.G.Os 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.
The speaker stated that all hands must be on deck to achieve the desired result.
“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 government, not even N.G.Os, N.G.Os can support and faith-based organisations can also support, but the government must stand up and be counted,” he explained.
The Speaker expressed dismay at the appalling condition in which IDPs live in the camps even when they are in the FCT, saying that should not be the case in Nigeria.
He added that the government has to live up to its responsibilities to provide social services to brothers and sisters who are direly in need of them, especially victims of the on-going war on terrorism.
“It is a big surprise to me that here we do not have representatives of security agencies and other critical Stakeholders like N.E.M.A, The Refugees Commission, and so on, and so forth. Its these stakeholders that should normally take the responsibility of providing succour 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,” the Speaker said.
He assured the IDPs that he will work with the committee on IDPs of the House of Representatives to ensure that something is done in terms of the supply of food items to them very soon and will work with the authorities in the F.C.T to ensure at least that the kids in that particular camp are enrolled in school, “because that is very important.”
The Speaker further explained that “Education is a tool for social changes, there is no better tool than education and when you exclude them from education; it is like looking for further trouble in the future. So we have to look for any means possible to ensure that additional classrooms are provided so that they may take advantage of the offerings as IDPs. If there is no school; then one has to be created as needed. Unfortunately that they have lived here for above three to four years as they said, and we have not been able to provide them with education, that opportunity should be extended to them. We also have to do everything possible to ensure that it is done in the immediate”.