The security and humanitarian challenges in the North Eastern part of Nigeria have been in the news since 2009. The Nigerian Government with the help of some International organisations has been working day and night to tackle the situation. As way of finding a lasting solution to the crisis, a Town Hall meeting was held in Maiduguri the Borno State capital recently where suggestions were proffered on finding lasting solutions.
The Town Hall meeting which was primarily meant to discuss issues concerning security and humanitarian problems caused by the conflict, could be said to have achieved its purpose as stakeholders discussed issues freely without fear on how best to address the challenges confronting the region.
The good news that came out of the Town Hall Meeting was the disclosure by the Nigerian government that it had paid the United States Government the sum of 496 million U S dollars for the acquisition of 12 Super Tucano fighter jets to be used by the Nigerian Air Force in the on-going military operations. It was also revealed that the Nigerian government had acquired five units of caterpillar armoured mine-sweepers, new French patrol boats for the Navy, and two fighter jets from Pakistan. All these hardware are to be used for final sweep of the Boko Haram enclaves in the Region.
During the meeting, top brass of the country’s security agencies affirmed with all sense of confidence that the capacity of Boko Haram insurgents to carry out attacks had been completely neutralised. It was also revealed that no single Nigerian territory was under the control of the Boko Haram terrorists and that over 30,000 people had been rescued from captivity most of them women and children.
Considering the nature of the crisis and what President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration and indeed the Nigerian security agencies have done, there is every reason to commend this unprecedented feat that nowhere in the world has been achieved in such a short period.
No doubt, like every other crisis, the insurgency in Nigeria’s North East has given birth to a massive humanitarian crisis that needs to be addressed as soon as possible to avoid any catastrophe.
A United Nations report indicates that the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s North East has spilled into the Lake Chad region making it one of the most severe in the world today. The global body affirmed that the crises has evolved into a food security and nutrition crisis, with over 7.7 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance in the worst hit states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe .
Specifically, about six -point -one million people are being targeted for humanitarian assistance in the 2018 Humanitarian Respose Plan. The assistance ranges from food, protection, water, shelter, sanitation, medicine, agricultural support, which would be delivered to vulnerable women, children and men across the three States.
It is worthy of note that with Boko Haram beaten and on the run, the major focus and energy is now on intensifying the final push of the insurgents out of their comfort zone and also tackling the post-insurgency challenges of reintegration, reconstruction, de-radicalization and rehabilitation.
While, infrastructure in the region is being revamped; the humanitarian response must also be scaled up, by the Federal and state governments with the support of international partners.
It is also critical to give children and youths of that region a future by declaring an emergency in the education sector. Similarly, there is also an urgent need to increase all operating agencies’ ability to access difficult terrains to meet with needs of women and children.
There should be deliberate plans to ensure greater investment towards further strengthening stakeholders’ leadership, decision making, coordination and the accountability of the humanitarian responses.
When all these among others are deliberately and strategically put in place, the humanitarian challenges in the North East would have been tackled, just as the insecurity has been successfully taken care of.