By SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri –
Thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are being relocated from their 8 years displacement camps from Maiduguri city, the Borno State capital and resettled to their ancestral homes despite some attacks from the Boko Haram Insurgents.
A cross section of the returnee IDPs , who spoke to our correspondent in Maiduguri, expressed fears that their relocation may be threatened by the remnant of Boko Haram terrorists still in their hide outs in the bush, who are yet to voluntarily surrender to the Nigerian Military especially, at the shores of the Lake Chad Basin region.
The presence of these terrorists would likely frustrate the peaceful livelihood of the returnees who are expected to live a normal life by engaging in farming and fishing as well as other petty trading of which they were denied access while at the camps.
Some of the returnee IDPs were of the view that their idleness, no doubt culminated into rape, prostitution and stealing within the IDPs as most of them were highly exposed to lack of food and non food items to cater for themselves and their families, especially, the children.
Others, however were of the opinion that children orphaned by Boko Haram terrorists still doubt their livelihoods without support from the government or NGOs who have also been stopped by the Borno State Government.
While others fear that the resettlement housing sites have not been adequate provided with security and other basic facilities like water, electricity, schools and vocational training facilities in their communities despite their relocation areas are within their LG Council headquarters.
Also, some returnee IDPs told our correspondent that there was the possibility of the IDPs to face more challenges and difficulties worse than what they experienced at the camps, if the state government and NGOs will not come to their aids by considering their relocation needs in terms of security, food and occupation.
One Modu Mustapha, a 45 year old father of 8 children and two wives expressed worries that they may not properly survive at the resettlement area chosen for them by the state government which is not originally their ancestral home in Gubio LGA of Borno state.
Also, Habu Musa, a 58 years old mason with 10 children and two wives from Ngoshe village of Gwoza lGA of Borno state complained that the resettlement will rather make his family’s life more difficult particularly in terms of accommodations,, schooling of the children.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Governor to resettle us out of the camp after about seven years of living in the IDPs, camp but honestly, taking us back to Gwoza where there is no building work by the people or government instead of moving us to nearby alternative camp close to the town at the outskirts or returning directly to our ancestral homes to enable us farm to feed ourselves”.
“Apart from the hand work I do, I also farm in the village to feed my large family. We the villagers are known as great farmers from Gwoza. We don’t have any other means of earning a living better than the farming. Even when we were in the camp,, we still go to farm from time to time outside the camp areas to farm small portion to feed ourselves when our movement and farming were allowed recently, ” Musa said.
Similarly, BaGoni Adam, an IDP from Bama who was displaced by Boko Haram Insurgents about seven years ago told our Correspondent that many of them are worried about their relocation by the state government.
He said: “Even as we move to Bama, we are not sure of getting enough land for farming as going beyond one kilometre outside Bama town to farm is very delicate as a result of possible threats and attacks from the Boko Haram terrorists who still attack the town from time to time despite the presence military formation in Bama town and its environs along Pulka-Banki-Gwoza axis.,” BaGoni said.
Another IDP with a family size of three wives and 12 children aged 63 years, who hailed from Glulumba area of Bama LGA of Borno state, Bukar Kolo, while lamenting on their relocation said the: “Government should know that we are mostly farmers and livestock traders and taking us back to Bama for now is unnecessary and undue”.
“We are already having problem of water supply sources in Bama town and there is water shortage in the IDPs camp already as well as the resettlement housing, estate in Bama. No school and health facilities in the area”.
It will be recalled that Borno State Government had on May 29, 2022 declared the closing of all the official IDPs camps before the end of the governor’s first tenure in office with a target to enhance resilience in all LGAs liberated by the military to allow the IDPs live a normal life in their communities.
It was however gathered that some IDPs from Gubio, Bama, Mobbar and Konduga LGAs of the state, who are from the Borno North and Borno Central Senatorial Districts were alternatively provided with options of either to accept to be relocated to their original communities.
Other options include to accept the relocation to government built housing estate (resettlement houses) or accept to receive financial assistance to rent accommodation in their host communities within the Maiduguri city, especially, for those who were not willing to return to their LGA Resettlement camps built by the state government or have decided at will not to return to their communities yet.
Nevertheless, the state government had made it very clear the three options were not compulsory neither imposed on them but optional and at will freely for any IDP household to make his or her choose known to the state government before they were relocated from the IDPs camps.
Their choice was coordinated and manged by a standing committee already set up by the state government in 2020, who are charged with the responsibility of building and resettling the IDPs.