IDPs after heavy rainstorm, release of Chibok girls

BY YUNUSA BUNU | YERWA EXPRESS NEWS, MAY 12, 2017, 03:16 PM

An unexpected rainfall and sandstorm has in the course of last week caused destruction of many structures in Maiduguri, including, according to town gossips, loss of lives. This writer went round idp camps where displaced persons are domiciled to assess the situation.

The geographical location of Borno positions the state in a direction of constant wind especially in a season like this. This is as a result of the influence of the Sahara desert few hundred miles north of it.

The rainfall which came at a time least expected has caused a lot of destruction in the camps as would be expected.

In the first place, camps mostly, are meant to be temporary and hence, most of their structures are equally temporarily built. As it is known, almost all the idp camps we have used to be schools--never designed with the mindset to house displaced persons in times of disasters and crises.

What we have are temporary tents erected by government and donor/aid agencies to serve the basic need of shelter, or at least: a 'feel' of it--a case of bringing out the best of a bad situation.

A storm that does not spare structures built with professional engineering consideration cannot therefore do any less than it had to temporary tents.

According to unverified rumour, the storm had demolished a building over a whole family who instantly, as a result, died.

Of course, base on what is on the surface, the story is not as bad in the camp.

Modu Alhaji Ngwami, an idp from Konduga LGA at the NYSC camp Maiduguri said his tent where he, his two wives and children were cramped into was both destroyed and flooded.

Several other tents were destroyed by the sandstorm and heavily flooded by the rain.

According to the camp secretary, Bama local government idps, Alai Bukar Sa'inna, 'most of the tents are already leaking even before this situation.'

However, he added that, 'the most critical casualty is the damaging of one of our solar-powered borehole. This has affected the constant supply of water'.

Bakassi, another idp camp with a population of about 25 thousand IDPs, where this reporter has visited also has its share of the destructions.

Eleven households were written off and many greatly damaged.

The chairman of Marte IDPs in the camp, Alai Shuaibu Jibrin said 'some of the tents are already about to collapse because of termites and sun when the rain came'.

An 80-year old victim, Maryam Aboi lamented that the sandstorm had already made her homeless when the rain followed. 'We were all wet, it was all on us', pointing at her six grandchildren.

This reporter left the idps while in a panic mode as it seemed another rainfall was on its way.

They call on government to intervene.

REACTIONS TO THE RELEASE OF CHIBOK GIRLS

This reporter took the opportunity of the visit to also collect the opinions of some of the idps regarding the release of the Chibok girls and the preferential treatment they are given by the government.

A mother of seven Yakaru Mele of Bama local government, fuming and visibly angry said, 'if they are back, so what!'

'I don't want to talk about it, of my seven children, 3 females and 4 boys, these two boys are the only two that left Bama with me. So what nonsense are you talking about', she said, losing all her cool.

Ali Awana who said he heard over the radio that the girls were swapped with Boko Haram commanders wondered whether God had abandoned them. He said 'who will rescue my wife, Ya Falmata for me? Has justice ceased?'

'So the Buhari they are talking about, is this the best he can do?' a 73-year old Baa Massa'a Banki said, adding that he would always remember 'the 3 bags of maize' the insurgents stole from him.

Most of the displaced persons had one bitter experience of losing loved ones or the other. This reporter was shown several unaccompanied children who are under the care of few kind people from the same village.

It is almost certain that no IDP in particularly places like Bama who had not lost a loved one. There are families who do not know the whereabouts of their sons and daughters yet. They cut off since the attacks that culminated in their unceremonious displacement.

A die-hard supporter of Buhari, Dauda Ngoshe told this reporter to ask President Muhammadu Buhari why 'he had to tell the public the details of the dialogue', noting that though he was his supporter, he was not happy to hear that.

He called on the government to intensify efforts to rescue all other people who are abducted to clear this particular mistake because the disclosure has made people like him on the defensive.

'Baba had made a mistake, but he is my hero. Now let him rescue all other people to correct this mistake'.

The idps are angry that the government could negotiate with their enemies. Hajja Kori Lawan, an aged idp said she doesn't believe in the story, 'the Buhari I know would never meet Shekau and leave him alive'.

They are angered the most by the swap deal. If the government could allow the insurgents to live and even free those they captured, they wondered what the government is up to. 'If it is true, if it is really, really true, then we have given up. Who knows how many people, our parents, sons, daughters, wives... these commanders kill? There is no punishment for crime anymore or is it because we are common lives and not worth living?', Sanda Kurama, broken, spat, adding that, 'if we don't get one, we will, surely, in the hereafter'.

OTHER REACTIONS:

Besides the idps who are obviously the direct and most hit victims of the crisis, other sons and daughters of the state do not hide their feelings. Although many, including the state government and elders have commended the release of the girls, it does not seem to be the view of the rest of the public commentators.

Abba Bukar Abba Masta, a Bama indigene, who had lost a father and brother to the crisis did not hide his feelings.

On his Facebook, he wrote: 'Kill one and be killed/jailed, kill thousands, displace millions and be invited to a dialogue'.

He lamented that in addition to the release of some Boko Haram commanders, the insurgents were also 'given huge amount of money in hard currency'.

He said as a victim, he feels 'utterly cheated (and) betrayed'.

Ibrahim Uba Yusuf, a journalist and a commentator, asked whether the insurgents are remorseful of the crimes they committed and 'will desist from embarking on their heinous crimes'.

Mohammed Ali, another major on Twitter and other social media platforms also has a share of the disappointment.

'So now what is Buratai (COAS) cornering Boko Haram with when they can get medical care from Doctors Without Boarders and money from the exchange of Chibok girls? And that even comes with a bonus release of their generals?', he asked.

He added: 'Politically 1 Chibok girl is worth an entire community of over 10k families. That is if the destruction Boko Haram have done to be counted to amount to 276k families. But we know they have done more than that',

However, in a series of post, Abubakar Gambo, another commentator, came with an entirely different view.

He said, 'I think the government should go ahead and get all the chibok girls back. Boko Haram and the international community will then have nothing to blackmail it from taking serious action, adding that 'the whole Chibok girls issue has been used to tie the hands of our military.'

He also asked: 'Is our security any better with them in custody. Are they not the very reason used to stop our military from taking decisive action?

'The thousand of hostages rescued aren't considered a feat because of the Chibok girls. Just get them out of the way, even the swapped commanders can be dealt with in a single operation', he added.


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