Today in the northern part of Nigeria, we are currently witnessing conflicts, majorly because of ethno-religious crisis, this means the violent clash of people with different religious and cultural beliefs who have refused to respect one another’s opinions on cultural and religious beliefs simply because they believe that their beliefs are right and everyone else’s is wrong. This only proves ignorance and lack of discipline from these parties.
According to a report from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); in north-east Nigeria, there are 1.9 million people displaced from their homes. Sixty percent of them are children, with 1 in 4 under the age of five. This simply means that among these 1.9 million people, over 1.4 million of them are children and 285,000 of them are under the age of five, as at 2019. The record above proves that a great number of these children have been born into conflict since the Nigerian terrorist group “boko haram” resurfaced in 2011 and are still displaced without having a place to call home. This is devastating and sad.
This is a scary number for a country like Nigeria, for a country who earlier in the year graduated at least 650 “rehabilitated” boko haram members from school. What about the people who were affected by these terrorist group? Are they to be left to fend for themselves in dessert like areas? What about these children, won’t they also have the opportunity to learn? Why are their rights not being exercised?
They don’t even know their rights because they have not been taught these things. This is the year 2020, in the 21st century, should things be this way even in a third world country? No, it certainly shouldn’t. Especially in a time like this where there is a pandemic, these indigenes are at risk of thirst, starvation and a painful death yet the Nigerian government is favouring their abusers.
“What about the internally displaced people?” I ask for the second time.
Where are the facilities that the government supposedly provided for the uplifting of these people and if so they have been provided then why aren’t we seeing results? Why don’t they have homes, food, adequate healthcare services, clean water, education, why are their basic needs not available? Isn’t Nigeria better than this?
I sense a conspiracy on the infringement of human right, which leads me to approach this situation differently by asking a daring question. After more than eight years of none boko haram related issues in the country since the establishment of the group in 2002, why did it suddenly reappear in 2011 with so much intensity? And since 2011, nine years ago come 2020, how has a country like Nigeria not been able to disband this group?
They are not sorcerers that magically appear and then disappear into the forest after causing havoc whenever they please! They are flesh and blood just like you and I with the majority of them ignorant of secondary education and are not brilliant enough to strategically plan several attacks on both indigenes’ and troops for almost ten years and constantly getting away with it, leaving little victory for the Nigerian soldiers who have managed to arrest some of them and to stop very little attacks.
Why so mediocre? Only for the government to “rehabilitate” these men and bring them back into the society to do what if I may ask? Why not just open the gate of the prisons and free every person accused of a crime! There is a reason why we have a constitution and it has to be adhered to judiciously. This must be an expensive joke that we the citizens of Nigeria are not buying.
What happened to justice for the people slaughtered like goats in the hands of these terrorists? What about justice for the Chibok School girls who were in 2015 kidnapped, raped and some killed? Teenage girls for crying out loud, are we going to let it pass and assume that all sins have been forgiven? No, not according to the law, all criminals are to be punished according to their crimes and in this case to the fullest extent of the law, not just rehabilitated and brought back into society. The society where they once were, saw their own kind (a human being) and slaughtered them like goats with no remorse, with all boldness. If indeed they should be rehabilitated, then they should face the law afterwards.
However, the government have said that the reason for the rehabilitation and release of the terrorist is because the armed forces are not enough and would like for these men to be part of them. I refuse to accept this, and I don’t buy it one bit. If the people who made this decisions had us in mind, they would have built houses for the internally displaced people to settle in since 2011, they would have by crock or by book brought the terrorist to Justice, they would have sent our children to school for free to compensate their sad childhood, engaged the grown-ups in work, so that they can be able to provide for their families independently and a lot more. This government doesn’t have us in mind, I believe the majority of them couldn’t care less what happens to us that’s why they treat us and our resources terribly.
In fact, let us talk about rehabilitation. Starting from the victims of the Nigerian civil war which ended in 1970. Won’t they be rehabilitated or compensated for all they went through and for their loses respectively! Or don’t they matter? Aren’t they citizens as well or are they less? I leave this for us to answer, because not one of them have been compensated as they should. It might have been fifty years ago but a huge number of these people are still suffering.
Many have insomnia, schizophrenia, dementia, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, deafness due to bomb blast sounds and lots more. A number of them have become criminals in the society today because their rights were not being exercised by the authorities.
Sadly, some of their children have being affected as well and behave in worst ways than their parents, yet the cycle does not end there, it continues. From domestic violence to picking fights at school, until someone or some people end up dead. A terrible cycle because in this part of the world the psychology of a person is not as important as their medical care. If care is not taken, those little children in the internally displaced camps will be an even bigger threat in the society than the boko haram group.
Misplaced priorities, there is no order at all in this country. The victims should come first when it comes to rehabilitation and not their abusers. Truly, there is need for psychological check-up, over eighty percent of Nigerians have faced and are still facing domestic violence and not up to ten percent of them have gotten help. Where does this leave us as a nation? Then when the crime rates keep rising we wonder what we did wrong, we ignored something very important which is the psychological health of a person in need of it.
We need a change in Nigeria, a drastic change before it is too late.
Are we waiting for another civil war because we already see it coming and I refuse to be caught in the middle of it?
What about the internally displaced people in this country I ask again, because soon it won’t be a question I would ask, but a question the guilty party would wish they had answered.
- Article by Jerome Mario-Utomi.