Nigeria shone brightly in the international limelight owing to the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram insurgents in Chibok, Borno state. Rather than take accolades while in the centre stage, however, the Nigerian government of Goodluck Jonathan received nothing but condemnation for its lacklustre effort at rescuing the girls. The abduction saga and the seeming inability to put an end to the Boko Haram menace succeeded in affirming the Jonathan government as the most incompetent in Nigeria’s history going by the stinging words of many influential members of the international community.
Another aspect of the tragic situation we have found ourselves in, which is also partly as a consequence of the protracted insurgency, is the rise in the number of displaced persons in the country. A recent report says that Nigeria has now set a record as the nation with the highest number of displaced persons in Africa and the third highest in the world behind Syria and Colombia. The report released by the Internal Displaced Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council titled “Global Overview 2014: People Internally Displaced By Conflict and Violence”, said the total number of persons driven from their homes in Nigeria is up to a third of all internally displaced persons in the whole of Africa and that 10 percent of displaced persons in the world are found here.
The Director of IDMC, Alfredo Zamudio, while presenting the report said, “Multiple complex causes trigger displacement, providing significant challenges to governments and humanitarians on the ground. Violence, abuses, and forced evictions all add to the conflict-mix in many of these situations, while in places such as Nigeria we see how challenging life becomes for those already displaced by conflict when they are struck down again by severe floods and storms”. According to the report, in 2013, 470, 500 were forced out of their homes in Nigeria as a result of a combination of factors including violence and floods.
Without doubt, the Boko Haram insurgency has contributed greatly to this large number of displaced persons in Nigeria. As the head of the National Emergency Management Agency said recently, about three million people were displaced form their homes in the first quarter of this year alone. He said further that: “The insurgency left scores dead and displaced more than 249,446 people who are in camps or living with host communities”.
These very disturbing reports call for a short period of sober reflection by our leaders after which we expect them to swing into action to address this pathetic situation that our fellow citizens have found themselves in due to no fault of their own. We are saddened that up until now, for instance, some of the victims of the devastating floods of 2012 have still not returned to their homes in spite of the presidential committee set up to see to their rehabilitation. Victims of the Boko Haram insurgency, many of whom have dispersed to different states in the North and some into neighbouring countries, are still living a life of destitution with no end in sight to their plight.
We urge the state and federal governments to urgently come to the rescue of these Nigerians. They should endeavour to provide them with adequate food and shelter in order for them to live normal lives until they are able to return to their homes. Most importantly, the insurgency that has destabilised parts of the North-east must be brought to an end as soon as possible so that we all will put the nightmare behind us.