By Safiya Adamu
Quite a number of us tend to at one point or the wonder what the mission and vision of the NCFRMI really is and what it has achieved to date. Of course most of us know there is a refugee commission, we are also very aware of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in our society today. But the question is what does it do or what has it set out to achieve. It is a tall one here and I guess the lack of answers to these questions is why the Commission is largely ignored or always far out at the back burner. Sometime between 2016 and 2019 there was a lot of showing with regards to distribution of whatever items mainly foodstuffs and some basics like blankets to the IDPs. We saw some activities then and this gave it some attention.
Recently the commission has taken it a notch higher with some good initiatives. The major ones being the Project Reliance and Resettlement city Project both of which are good development. However one must note that these are really challenging projects that would require inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary collaboration for impact and sustainability. This is a very huge ambition that requires not just material and physical resources but one that needs the general support of the society at large. It talks to our moral fabric and conscious.
Today the Commission is looking to provide mass accommodation through what it terms its Project reliance and Resettlement City Project. This is very ambitious I say again and also quite honestly a huge challenge. It is equally something we should all look forward to seeing materialize. The Resettlement City Project is described by the Honorable National Commissioner of the NCFRMI, Senator Basheer G Mohammed as cities to be constructed across the Nation to take care of the shelter needs of the Internally Displaced Persons; the cities are to consist of two-bedroom bungalows.
This is a lofty project and what? Great idea ….but… yes but. We say ‘but’ because the idea of a two-bedroom house for a family is somewhat not so quite an accommodation though it is a far cry from an IDP camps. Hopefully these houses would be better managed and organized than the camps; I mean water and sanitation are quite a challenge even in the best of situations in our cities. All the same it is worth an applause especially when situate in the sad and desolate circumstances of these persons.
Project reliance on the other hand presents its own kind of challenges. The fact that it aims to wean the Internally Displaced Persons off handouts is what makes it especially interesting. Because according to Senator Basheer the goal is to provide them with some form of start –up grants after some kind of training or enhancement of latent skills. This project intends to lift these people out of poverty. A situation most of them were plummeted into by circumstances beyond their control. It is a tough one Senator, because whatever form of support the Commission intends to provide most be in alignment or an acceptable improvement on the life they have always known. Change is one constant a lot of people find very difficult to embrace even in best of circumstances. While Senator Basheer G Mohammed is obviously striving to support these persons towards regaining their dignity through concerted efforts at enhancing their livelihoods, it would be good to know that these projects are embarked upon with sole aim of achieving what they were set out to achieve….lift the people out of poverty and allow them regain their lives with dignity.
The former Senator is hoping to pull resources together from different sources to achieve these goals. Transparency and accountability should therefore be the watchwords here. Every obstacle and challenge must be made known to the public and the stakeholders, because that way sir, you would have proven yourself. However the biggest obstacle in my view and something every concerned person should bear in mind is that the Federal Government clearly does not have the resources to go it alone. There is need to get the private sector and donor agencies involved. Again the Senator hopefully knows that a number of countries are cutting down on aid and grants for obvious reasons; COVID – 19. The COVID-19 pandemic of course we all know have caused economies across the world to shrink, this means in simple terms that major donor countries will be looking at prioritizing the recovery of their own economies. This also suggests a need for fast proactive acts on the part of the Commission.
The fact that someone is actually thinking of a quick and permanent solution out these crises is like I said its laudable however, it needs to be sustainable. And ways to ensure its sustainability abounds and the Senator and the Commission need to adjust their thinking caps. Importantly the mother Ministry, the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs needs to be same page to achieve a wholesome objective. After all the success of the Commission is inevitably the success of the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. If well managed these two projects may well be the redeemers.
Either way I wish the Senator and the Commission the very best; you definitely need it. You are on a journey with loads of challenges.
Adamu wrote in from Abuja