Again, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in Benue state on a two day state visit to among other things, identify with the people over the incessant herdsmen attacks that have killed many, destroyed communities, farmlands and property as well as rendered over 170,000 people, including children and women homeless.
Reportedly, the highpoints of the visit was the announcement of Federal Government’s approval of 10 billion naira to rebuild ravaged communities in the Middle Belt destroyed by herdsmen attacks over the years (not herdsmen/farmers clashes as erroneously or mischievously reported by a section of the media) and a stakeholders meeting at the Government House Makurdi.
While this gesture appears commendable, we feel it is not only a drop in an ocean, but a slap on the faces of the victims.
This is because, what the people need at this time is security, not mere announcement of cash donation.
Besides, in view of the wanton destruction of the affected communities, 10 billion Naira to us sounds like an indirect way of donating money for campaigns.
If this money is to shared equally among the affected states, a state will get an average of 2 billion naira.
For instance, in Benue state alone, the three social cultural organisations for the majority tribes, the Mzough u Tiv, Idoma National Forum and their Igede counterpart have estimated losses to the attacks at over 95 billion naira, apart from human loss, a resource that cannot be restored.
Indeed, these attacks which started as far back as 2011, have greatly affected the socio economic life of the people, making them to be in dire need of tangible assistance, not a mere scratch on the back.
We therefore, call on the federal government to demonstrate sincere commitment to rebuilding the ravaged Middle Belt by establishing a dedicated Commission as done for Niger Delta and North East.
After all, the level of damage in the middle belt is as huge as those places with established commissions.
Apart from the age long adage that ‘what is source for the goose, is source for the gander’, this Commission will be more focused and result oriented in rebuilding the communities.
Also, the only way that families of those who lost their people in the attacks can be rebuilt, is by empowering those they left behind.
To this end, at least a member of those families should be given automatic employment in the federal government agencies including security outfits which some are recruiting at the moment.
Children should be encouraged to return to schools by granting them scholarship.
More important is for the government to ensure security, stability and safe return of those displaced to their homes.
They should be provided with incentives to fully engage in farming activities with a view to bouncing back economically.
The government has to prove that, its gesture is a genuine intervention to save humanity than political as it appears.
Association of Aliwe Daughters is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) of Tiv women worldwide whose core objectives is to protect and defend the rights of women and children and social justice
17th May, 2018.