On September 29, UNICEF, which has been doing a great job cleaning the mess left of Nigeria’s North-East came up with a scary report. First is the scarcity of funds for its operations in the zone. Second is the dire strait Nigerian children of the North-East have found themselves in the wake of the prolonged insurgency. The UN agency said it was revising its humanitarian appeal fund for Nigeria from $55 million to US$ 115 million in aid of some additional 750,000 persons in deed of support in the North-East.
Hear the real sad news according to the report: “As new areas open up to humanitarian assistance, the true scale of the Boko Haram related crisis and its impact on children is being revealed. An estimated 400,000 children under five will suffer from severe acute malnutrition
in three states across the northeast this year. More than 4 million people are facing severe food shortages and 65,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, mostly in Borno, the worst affected state.”
“Children’s lives are literally hanging by a thread,” the report quoted Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes as saying. “We are reaching new areas to provide critical humanitarian assistance but we need greater international support to further scale up and reach all children in dire need,” she added.
As the statistics above stare us clearly in the face, they evoke pity, fear and empathy. But going by the volume of donations we have been told stream in from across the world through the Nigerian authorities the IDPs have no business passing through such hell on earth. Perhaps President Muhammadu Buhari should see a good assignment for the eagle-eye EFCC men who have been everywhere of late.
If we go by the records of donations to the Nigerian authorities in the last two years, none of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) should be living in the conditions painted by UNICEF above.
The funds started rolling in with the N28 billion realized from the Victims Support Fund (VSF) set up under the leadership of General TY Danjuma during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
There are reports also indicated that the sum of $900 million was pulled together by Australia and other like- minded countries, another $200million said to have been donated by the Government of United States of America (USA); the sum of $800 million from World Bank; the sum of N6.3 billion donated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other individuals; $248 million donated by UNDP and $750 million donated by Saudi Arabia.
Outside the donations, the Nigerian 2016 budget also allocates N10 billion for the care of the IDPs and that is aside the series of undocumented humanitarian supports from Non-Governmental Organisations, women groups, as well as religious and charity
Whether these sums are calculated in official or unofficial money rates, they look pretty good enough to assuage the immediate needs of the IDPs. So why are we having the humanitarian challenges painted above? It is certain the incumbent government needs to focus the attention of its anti-corruption war in this direction. In this fight against graft, I guess it should be easier looking at today than yesterday. Rather than look too deeply into the past, the government would help save lives in millions if it opens the eyes of its agencies to the situation
surrounding the Donor funds.
While many of those wanted in connection with past acts of impunity may be out of sight or might have buried their incontinence deep down, it should be far easier to investigate any acts of impunity that happen around the management of the donor funds.
Those who should answer questions include the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the state versions of the agency as well as state government officials deployed to manage the IDPs.
Why do we have huge donations from across the world and yet left our citizens in hunger? It’s difficult to fathom.
But the scenario above appears widespread in the management of IPDs. Only recently, the chairman of IDPs in Abuja told a delegation of humanitarian groups that they should henceforth donate their goodwill to the IDP camps directly.
Mr. Philemon Emmanuel, who spoke on behalf of the IDPs in Abuja, told his shocked visitors that his compatriots would prefer to be reached directly rather than through some state officials.
Hear him: “We have been here since 2014; we are 1467 persons from Borno State, Gwoza Local Government area and 56 from Adamawa. And we have been surviving because of the help of some churches, organisations, mosques and private individuals.
“We hear many times that people have donated items to assist IDPs in Abuja but don’t get to see the donations. Recently, we heard that Dangote donated items worth millions of Naira to IDPs in Abuja but we are yet to receive the items. We however want to appeal that if some people want to help, they should come through the IDPs camp so we can get the assistance directly.”
Yes, we have a President who hardly talks but this is not an issue to keep mute about. The President should order his EFCC hands, who appeared so effective in dealing with politicians to go into this multi-million dollar matter. They will not only recover funds but directly save lives. Being your brothers’ keeper is an onerous task for the sake of humanity.