Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Government has indicated readiness to review its policy on the management of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to promote peace and stability in the state.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo gave the indication during the ongoing weekly meeting with chairmen of the eight local government councils in Government House, Yenagoa.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, the Deputy Governor expressed optimism that government’s new position would encourage community leaders to strengthen their security architecture for the overall good of the people.
He said the present administration would not condone a situation where communities encourage insecurity by failing to cooperate with security agencies to arrest and prosecute criminals in their domains.
According to Senator Ewhrudjakpo, government should not be held responsible for the welfare of people who are displaced by unnecessary crises and crimes perpetrated by criminals shielded by communities.
To this end, he restated his earlier position that the state government would soon direct the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council to stop relief payments to people displaced from Peremabiri community during the 2015 governorship elections.
The Deputy Governor noted that the measure would not only serve as a deterrent but also promote the spirit of resilience and self-reliance which the Ijaw man is known for.
His words, “Well, for this month, I have asked Southern Ijaw to pay the Peremabiri IDPs. But I don’t think that is what we should continue to do. It is a way of making that community people not to return to their community. If you single out Peremabiri to be paying IDPs on a monthly basis perpetually, when will they go back to their community? And what about other communities that have had crises?
“What about the Nembe people that are displaced? Who is paying them as IDPs? So why should Peremabiri’s case be different? Oh, because they have one man that calls himself a criminal who has scared them from their community?
“So if every community behaves the way they do, that means government’s resources will only be used in taking care of IDPs in this state. This is unacceptable and therefore we will not tolerate it.
“This is something that happened since 2015 during the governorship elections. They don’t want to go back to their community because somebody is giving them free money.
“Some of them don’t even stay in the so called IDP camp. They call themselves IDPs but they are in the comfort of somewhere else but only turn up when it is time for payment.
“For me, I will say what I think is the right thing to say no matter whose ox is gored. Whoever wants to think otherwise is free to do so. We are not saying people should not be empathized with. But we must not encourage people to become indolent and irresponsible.”