From recent reports, the total number of Nigerians who have been removed from their homes or those referred to as internally displaced persons, IDPs has risen to three million. The Nigerians affected are mainly from Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Nasarawa, Plateau and lately, Taraba States as a result of insurgency and farmers versus herdsmen clashes. The latest finding came from a group called Internally Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDMC, which made public its research recently. The IDMC is part of the Norwegian Refugees Council launched into Global Overview at the United Nations at Geneva.
For a country like Nigeria that is struggling to build a virile democratic and socio-economic foundation, this development raises grave concerns. It is a signpost to chaos for three million citizens to be rendered homeless, hungry, oppressed and denied their fundamental human rights in terms of social security in their country, driven away from their ancestral homes. Nothing can be more devastating and painful.
According to the non-governmental organisation, five countries are responsible for the world’s refugees and IDP; among them are Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, and Sudan. “These three countries account for 70 per cent of the internally displaced persons in Sub Saharan Africa”, the report stated. In general terms, floods, violence, landslides, earthquake, conflicts and abuses are responsible for refugees’ crisis; however, in Nigeria, conflicts and violence largely account for the rising waves of the number of IDPs in the country.
For instance, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, is overwhelmed by the enormous humanitarian crises arising from the terrorist campaigns in North-East Nigeria, particularly in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. There are reports that Nigerians who live on the fringes of the border with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger have created large refugee camps as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
According to Daniel Bekele, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, “The horrific attacks by Boko Haram are having a devastating impact on northern Nigerians. Hundreds of thousands have fled to other parts of Nigeria and neighboring countries”. As violent crises spread, the rate of casualty also increases. About 300,000 people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, 70 per cent of who were women and children fled their homes from violent and bloody scenes orchestrated by insurgency, stated the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, UNOCHA. This concern is not different from that of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR.
Evidently, most Nigerians and those who empathise with the country are really worried about this development in our country. If our country is not at war and we have the number of refugees running into millions, what then would become of the country if the unimaginable happens? God forbid!
At this point, we must therefore drive home the point. Our leaders at all levels and, of course, all well-meaning Nigerians must see the national crises being faced by Nigeria at this period of her history as a test of nationhood.
We thus challenge our leaders, particularly urge statesmen and women of goodwill and positive disposition, to rise up to the demand of history and work towards peaceful resolution of all political and ethno-religious conflicts in the country. It is counterproductive for Nigeria to strive towards development while at the same time struggling to manage massive humanitarian crises as a result of sporadic bloody conflicts.