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Published On: Mon, Nov 10th, 2014

Terror victims’ protest: Where is Danjuma’s committee?

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TY DanjumaBy Ochiaka Ugwu

Only last week victims of Boko Haram terrorists’ attacks in the Federal Capital Territory trooped out in their numbers to protest utter neglect to their plight by the authorities. These victims who were seen drowning in their sorrow are victims whose lives have been changed forever by injury, trauma and bereavement. Their sight alone depicts a segment of the human society rejected and dejected by those who suppose to see to their welfare. Even the devil will feel a pang of pity on sighting these helpless victims. It worries one on why government should leave them to their fate given the fact that the attack succeeded owing to government negligence on issue of security.

One of the victims who had one of his legs amputated said they are protesting against poor attention the Federal Government had accorded their plights, saying that they are suffering from extreme negligence. They also informed they were abandoned in various hospitals, lamenting that their bills that have accumulated over time have not been settled by concerned authorities.

Some of the victims who converged at the Millennium Park fountain; venue of the #BringBackourGirls demonstrations said that the protest became imperative as it was the failure of government in the first place that led to the attack. They lamented the porous nature of security in the nation’s capital and other parts of the country which is degenerating by the day.

Speaking to newsmen, a victim who simply identified himself as James said “Look at me now. How do I look? Tell me. We have for long ignored the fact that the government had failed in its responsibility to protect us, but having suffered several burns and injuries resulting from the blast, we deserve better treatment, and not what we are currently going through. We have no better way to express our pain than to come out this way.’’

Like James most victims who spoke vowed they will continue with the protest if the government continues to turn deaf ears to their plight as they are convinced that catering for them may be the last thing in government’s line of action. To say the least their story is better imagined than told especially the amputees who confessed that even the society is now treating them with contempt and disdain.

Among the incidents that affected them are the dual bomb blasts at Nyanya in April, and others in Suleja, Niger State, as well as Emab Plaza in Wuse Zone II, Abuja.

It could be remembered that following an unprecedented terror attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in several states in Nigeria mostly in the North East region which affected over 9 million people, displaced over 3 million, killed over 4000 persons, damaged and destroyed many houses. To ameliorate the situation and suffering of the victims, in July ending, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched “Terror Victims Support Fund” and immediately donated N10 billion. President Goodluck Jonathan, who personally served as the Master of Ceremony at the fundraising ceremony for the event urged all Nigerians to give their widows mite to the terror victims. He said that the Victims Support Fund would go a long way in providing succour to the victims.

The President urged every Nigerian to allow the sorrowful period to bring out the best in them and not leave the victims to bear the brunt of terror alone. The committee headed by a former army chief, Theophilus Danjuma raked about N50 billion at the end of the launch.

Preceding that was another ministerial committee constituted by federal government to assist terror victims overcome trauma.

Speaking then on the mandate of the committee the then Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu said the committee was constituted due to the subsequent emotional and psychological trauma to terror victims.

The Committee was made up of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists from forty Federal Tertiary Health Institutions, traditional leaders, faith-based organizations, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as well as the Federal Ministries of Education, Women Affairs, Youth and Sports and Non-Governmental Organisations working in the health sector.

The committee was said to have met and determined the plethora of psychological disorders occasioned by the current challenges to include among others: post-traumatic disorders, depressive disorders, behavioural changes in children and obsessive compulsive disorders.

But it is unfortunate that three months after these funds were announced, victims are still ailing, and agitating for the funds leading to this protest in Abuja with Nigerians asking where is the terror victims’ committee led by Danjuma and where did all the funds go? Our visualization gives an insight into where the funds should go – and what is happening to these victims. Have the funds suddenly developed wings and disappeared into thin air or was it a ploy for another campaign fund? What these victims need is rebuilding, rehabilitating, and reintegrating them through the power of togetherness. As a matter of urgency their medical bills should be offset by the authorities and empowerment given to them to start all over again.

The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed should table their plight before President Goodluck Jonathan for quick intervention and adequate compensation before the situation will degenerate to another level especially now that all fingers are pointing at the Federal Government for not paying the necessary compensation to the victims over three months after the incidents. Is it until they die in their dilemma that government in a volt face will decide to give their families peanuts?

However, the whole world is aware of the devastation of Nigeria and Nigerians by terrorists since the beginning of insurgency. Many well-meaning persons have since commented on the shabby treatment of these terror victims, which mostly are the poor and the less fortunate among our people.

A measure of the extent of human refinement across the world or globally, is often said to be the willingness and the extent in which any society or nation cater for the poor, the underprivileged and the so-called less fortunate.

Amidst the ongoing ravages by Boko Haram, and ensuing victims is leaving on its wake, there seem to be deliberate efforts to understate the extent and magnitude of devastation by the terrorists, and the avalanches of consequences which will most probably follow.

Too often, we have heard government officials say we are trying our best and should not be blamed as victims in other lands don’t blame government but rather the terrorists when a bomb goes off. The terrorists always have the blame in Afghanistan but in Nigeria we blame government. By all accounts so far, and by any measure, responses and reliefs to these victims, a national disaster, has not been vigorous enough.

It is true that crises do happen or occur worldwide, but, crises response, effective and efficient management of crises are usually the marked difference between point A and point B globally.

It is quite worrisome to observe, and watch almost helplessly, at what could very well be, significant attendant cataclysms; even as the victims weep uncontrollable on their condition.

The poor, who have mostly borne the brunt of all these displacements and dislocations, are the ones who continue to be mired in it. The poor have been left to cater for themselves, as they have alternately been neglected, relegated and left in squalid conditions, extreme squalor and to their own devices. It is bad for the authority to turn their back at them when they needed them most.

In this part of the globe, relief hardly reach to people it was meant for and worse, there have been cases where relief materials have been commandeered by those who need these relief materials the least. Could this be the problem with the Danjuma led committee?

In many affluent or wealthy homes, it is quite evident that top members of Nigerian political class, have misdirected and cornered for themselves, what is already the very paltry relief which have been made available, mostly by government for people like this.

This N50 billion raked by the committee for the victims, may now be stockpiled in the bank accounts of some local political apparatchiks and so-called associates, all this, while the dying desperate citizens wait in the lurch, for paltry sum and needful service!

Why does it always have to be this way? Greed and ineptitude are getting in the way of rapid responses. We are at the cusps of unmitigated disasters, as a result of these insurgents, and yet, some acting as they are sleep-walking. For how long should we be our brothers’ killers instead of our brothers’ keeper?


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