Abuja’s displaced persons and the FCT Minister’s response

By Jamila Musa

Abuja is seriously faced with the problems of internal displacements. For instance, Boko haram insurgency has displaced about 2.4million Nigerians in the lake chad basin of our country.There are also many unresolved displacements issues which arise due to the jihadist violence, armed banditry, farmers-herders conflicts and many more. Nigeria’s displaced populations continue to rise as this violence and conflicts continue unabated.

Therefore, as the country battles security challenges, one of its attendant counsequences is the displacements of persons and Abuja is not an exception.

It is true that Nigeria’s displaced population are vulnerable, without sufficient source of livelihood, thus the burdens of provisions fall on governments. This also applies to the FCT.

Though Abuja has not been affected by internal conflicts and generalised violence directly, it is the nations capital and seat of government and so it is a city that accepts everybody and it is for everybody and the indegene of neighbouring states also runs to it for succour in the period of adversity.

As a result Abuja is dealing with the ongoing tasks of responding to a fluctuating but always sizeable internally displaced populations. Some of this conflicts that have caused the need to camp the internally displaced person are conflicts over assess to land, citizenships and broader questions of identity.

Indigenous groups have always reportedly prevented settlers from having access to lands or business or assessing jobs and education. Internal displacement in Abuja are also as a result of flooding and erosions.

For example violence between muslims and christians in Jos, a nearby city to Abuja in 2010, has led to influx of many to Abuja for temporal shelter and this is happening unabated since then and this numbers are increasing by the day.

In Abuja itself, the issue of adhering to the original master plans of Abuja has put many residents at risks of loosing their homes and livelihoods and this has compounded the issue of dealing with how to cater for the many internally displaced persons.and this is because of the compelling needs of the governments dealing with the issue of urban slumps under the urban renewal programmes and strategies.

It is to the credit of the Minister of the FCT and his administration that it has a resettlement plans for the IDPs to provide alternative accommodations for the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons expended anytime there is crisis in the city or the country in general. Violent competitions for land, political power and oil wealth especially in the Delta regions of the country, the dreaded Boko haram insurgencies and the ceeding of Bakassi to cameroun has made thousands of persons moved to Abuja and without a settlement plan becomes IDP,s in Abuja.

In Abuja today, the Minister has outlined a legal and policy framework which he puts in place to oversee a comprehensive state response to the IDPs’ issue. The Minister has also approved a hollistic implementations of the African union protocols and conventions in dealing with the internally displaced persons in the city. The united nations conventions for the protections and assistance to the IDP,s as been implemented in Abuja through the Minister, covers all causes of displacements.

The national responsibilities of dealing with the issues of displacements lies with the governments at all levels in Nigeria and this the Minister admits in his responses to the issue of internally displaced persons. Today in Abuja, it is only when the response at the local governments is ineffective that the city administration is called upon for supports as the Minister has always put in place measures that has always made the area council equiped to deal with the IDP,s issue abinitio.

In order to cover the gap and ameliorate the plight of the internally displaced persons in Abuja, the Minister has set up a ministerial committee that he saddled with the responsibilities of drafting an IDP,s policy for the FCT to assist in registration and issuance of identity cards, prevention and reduction in terms of internal displacements,to allocate responsibilities to organs and agencies of governments,non-governmentals and civil societies organisations. The committees work culminated in the fct.policy of displacements which was prepared,handed over to the government and adopted during this mallam mohammadu bello,s administration.

In the absence of a legal and institutional framework which the Minister g1as always advocated, provision of assistance, protections, reintegration and resettlements of IDPs which were hitherto undertaken by organs of governments on an adhoc and reactive bases has stopped in the fct due to the fact that the ministerial draft policy for the assistance and supports to the displaced persons has allocates responsibities to the different arms of governmental agencies for the different aspects of the short,medium and long terms response to internal displacement and the benefit are there for all to see.

Musa writes from Abuja

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