The Chairman of the house committee on internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and initiatives on north-east, Sani Zoro, has stated that asking people displaced by insurgency to return home now was unrealistic, due to paucity of funds to cater to the needs of the people.
“There is no security to return them back to, no shelter and protection of their human rights,” he said.
Zoro said the number of IDPs in the country was at par with those in war-stricken nations like Syria and Iraq, and blamed the increase on inexperience and lack of coordination on the part of humanitarian agencies.
He also said other some other countries that have experienced massive displacement have established a ministry of humanitarian affairs, but the Nigerian government has failed to do same.
Speaking in an interview with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, the lawmaker lamented that the government “is not looking in that direction.”
“It is really a pity that over the last 4-5 years, we have been competing with Syria and Iraq as per the percentage of IDPs is concerned.
“They live on hand outs and assistance provided by host communities but if we are talking of structural response, it is the government, basically through the NEMA and the national commission for refugees.
“The world food programme feeds not less than 70% of the refugees in the north-east, because the resources committed through the agencies are not just enough.
“The entire budget for the presidential committee on refugees and initiatives on north-east is 45bn, I am not sure in the course of 2017 they have gotten up to 50% of such releases,” Zoro said.
This sum, according to him, excludes provision for infrastructural development, making it “impossible” for the timely return of the IDPs to their ancestral homes.
“Unfortunately, it is impossible because the government has not taken the right and adequate steps. In fact, it is not looking in that direction.”
He said his committee has been trying to work with the executive arm of government to ameliorate the situation.
“Our committee is the main that deals with humanitarian affairs in terms of oversights in the national assembly and we have been doing our best to see how the executive arm of government because it is the executive arm that owns the agencies that deal with the issue of IDPs, So, we have been trying to get them coordinated.
“These days they have the technical working group but I must admit that oversight in these agencies has not been easy because the issue of accountability is something that is very scarce over there.
“I suspect very much that chief executives of agencies especially in that sector are reluctant to come to account because of so many reasons.
“First of all, because Nigeria is experiencing massive internally displacement maybe for the very first time since the civil war, so there is a lot of inexperience.
“Otherwise, those that have witnessed this kind of phenomenon be it Sudan Cote d Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, most of them have dedicated ministries of humanitarian affairs but we don’t have that in Nigeria.
“The IDPS we have in this country are not just from the north-east, it is all over You have IDPs stationed in Makurdi for more than five years,” he stated.