By Kemi Yesufu
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, is one of those spearheading moves to attract more attention to insurgency- ravaged North-East and thousands of displaced people.
Recently, Dogara commissioned a mobile clinic at Wassa camp of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Speaking to National Assembly Correspondents after the ceremony, he said though a lot had been done for the displaced persons, there is still need for the convocation of an international donor conference to help rebuild the region. Dogara, who sponsored a Bill for an Act to Establish the North-East Development Commission, also told reporters that IDPs should not be allowed to go back to their homes until security is fully restored.
What led to your intervention at Wassa IDPs?
I remember specifically on January 7, in this camp, where as you heard before, we donated relief materials; in the course of that ceremony, one rallying cry that came through was that there was no medical facility at the camp and we did promise that we were going to do something about it. Thank God, we did not sleep on that promise. As soon as we went back to town, I opened up discussion with government agencies, but the response was that we had to wait for the budget and when the budget is released and monies voted, that is when they can intervene.
You mean government’s responce was not encouraging?
Yes, and because we were not satisfied with the response I was getting, I shared it with some of our friends and said this was the kind of need that we are experiencing at the various camps and gladly, Captain Hosa Okunbo said if that was the case, then I will figure out what I am going to do. He said he was going to donate a facility that will cater for the immediate needs of the IDPs.
And I thought that was very commendable and I want to thank God that he did not renege on that promise. Capt. Okunbo has made this day possible and that is why I implored him to be here. He really did not want to be identified as the person who donated this facility for this cause, but I had to pull him out.
Any plea to other well-meaning individuals?
I am calling on Nigerians to emulate what Capt. Okunbo has done because it is only through compassion and love that we can overcome grief and misery. When you look at the faces of the IDPs to say the least, they do not have a facility that will take care of their immediate health needs. It is a serious problem because as they say, health is wealth and where you find a healthy people, they can engage in the pursuit of happiness, in the pursuit of wealth creation and generation.
So, I want to call on all Nigerians to borrow a leaf from this, that we reach out to show love to the IDPs. It is a challenge that all of us must rally to overcome. We cannot continue to depend on stipends from outside or hoping that some angel from somewhere will come and solve the problem.
That is the problem we have in the country and I believe that if we rally ourselves right and through leveraging on individual energies supplementing what government is doing for the IDPs, we will be able to bring succor to them and ensure that for the period that they are living outside of their communities, at least, their basic needs are being met.
We want to thank the representative of the Victims Support Fund (VSF) and the Presidential Initiative on the North-East for the work they are doing and to urge them to collaborate with private individuals like this to donate or do things that will further improve the living conditions of the IDPs and I know that if we collaborate, we will be able to achieve more by God’s grace.
Do you think the facility is adequate for the inmates?
Someone may say it is too small and someone may feel disappointed because he felt it was a gigantic facility that was being built, but I believe it is through efforts like this, no matter how little, that more can come. And if we can put this small facility in all the IDPs camps in the country, I am sure it will help them in no small way. I cannot recall any of the camps we have visited so far, that has a facility like this, as simple and as small as it looks.
How about the medical personnel for the facility?
We will not just put this facility here, we will discuss with relevant government agencies to ensure that they deploy medical personnel in this place. We are going to have a doctor that will be stationed here. We are going to have nurses. NEMA has agreed to provide a medical doctor. Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) will as well provide medical personnel up to the level of nurses. This is so that in terms of even deliveries (for pregnant women) at the camp, sicknesses that are not too serious, they can be taken care of here at the camp.
All of us are witnesses to the state of the road, and if you have a woman who is caught up in labour, before that person is driven to Apo or Garki or somewhere in town, that woman may have even delivered. So, this facility can cater for that and thank God, we have the medical personnel that will do the job.
But you also have been calling for international donor conference for the North-East…(cuts in)
The donor conference, I believe, will provide the platform for us to further the discussion. This kind of discussion was done for Syria, it was done for Kosovo and I do not see why the international community will not respond to this crisis that we are faced with in Nigeria. The world is a global village and increasingly, problems affecting us in Nigeria, if they are not well taken care of, will have an international dimension sooner than later. The region is in dire need of assistance to address its challenges.