Within 24 hours of the visit of Alhaji Aliko Dangote and the co-Founder of The One Campaign, David Hewson of the U2 rock group to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Maiduguri, the IDPs went on another street protest, the second within one week, alleging ill-treatment and poor feeding by government and other supposed humanitarian agencies.
It is ironic that these victims of Boko Haram Islamist violence keep complaining about poor feeding, and it is obvious that they are not faking the true situation of things.
Many foreign groups, including the Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders, have complained about the unacceptable prevalence of malnutrition, especially among the children in those camps. UNICEF recently raised an alarm, that unless urgent action is taken, 49,000 children will die in Borno State alone this year.
In spite of these disheartening facts, so much has been heard about the quantum of funds being sunk into the care of these refugees. Dangote, addressing a press conference after visiting Borno State with Hewson, disclosed that his charity foundation had spent N4.5 billion on IDPs in the North East.
A spokesman of the Borno State Government had, on June 27, 2015, barely one month after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, declared that the Federal Government had taken over the feeding of the IDPs, which had been abandoned to the state government before then. The Senate also voted N10 billion for the care of the IDPs this year amidst protests from senators and representatives from the North East that the amount was not enough. We also have The Victim Support Fund (VSF) headed by retired Lt General TY Danjuma, which raised billions of naira from private donations.
It is on record that President Buhari had wondered aloud why there should be malnutrition in the IDP camps in spite of the large amount the Federal Government spends, though he did not specify the exact amount.
However, the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, only in July this year, made it clear that his government had received only N345 million cash donations since he inherited the IDPs in 2011. Something is definitely wrong somewhere. The moneys being pooled for the care of the IDPs are not getting to those in need.
Corruption appears to have set in, and it is time this is thoroughly investigated. Apart from the suffering that the displaced persons are going through, the stories of malnutrition, diversion of relief supplies and minimal impact of so many funds noisily advertised for the care of these victims are giving the nation a bad name.
Unless the picture is cleared, it might discourage The One Campaign’s effort to raise funds worldwide for the victims of Boko Haram. President Buhari should take this up.