By Turaki Adamu Hassan
Sunday, February 7, 2016 will be remembered by hundreds of young children, orphans, widows and the aged who are camping at the International Christian Centre For Missions (ICC) Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in Benin-City, Edo State.
In his latest outreach to the IDPs from the violence ravaged North East region, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, drove for eight long from Abuja to visit the inmates displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents.
These young people travelled hundreds of kilometres from their ancestral home in Borno and Adamawa States to find refuge in far away Benin-City, courtesy of Pastor Solomon A. Olorunsho who runs the organisation catering for the needs of the IDPs. As early as 9am, the Speaker, in company of his colleagues, arrived at the ICC camp, where a church service was underway under a canopy.
Moved by the sight before him, Dogara couldn’t hold back his emotions as he saw hundreds of young boys and girls, ages five to 18, mostly orphans whose parents were brutally killed by Boko Haram, assembled in large numbers.
With a gloomy face, the Speaker struggled to control the tears rolling down his cheeks. In an emotion-laden speech, he encouraged the children not to lose hope, assuring that government was doing everything possible to return them to their communities soon.
“When I came in here I saw a people who are determined not to be broken inspite of the circumstances that surround them. I must encourage you,” he stated, adding, “I am part of the region of the north where you came from. I am also affected. I had to concede one of my houses for IDPs from Yobe and Borno States to live in.”
The Speaker urged the IDPs, especially the orphans, to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness in their daily lives, saying, “the situation we found ourselves is not just peculiar to us but has been happening in the course of human history.”
“It is painful, very painful. You may remember how you left and the people you left behind. Forty (40) percent of you here are orphans. You may be tempted to always cast your mind back over what happened to you. Once you are stuck in that you will be filled with bitterness snd anger and if that happens you can’t make progress. I know it is difficult but we have to take our minds off it.”
Advising the people to put their trust in God because “there is no situation that God cannot change”, he said some countries have passed through similar or even worse situations than what they are going through.
Citing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda as an example†, he said it was because of faith and determination in God that they emerged stronger.
Dogara told the IDPs that the present administration is committed to rebuilding the North East and further reassured them that “as long as this government endures, you will always be in our hearts. Thank God for the change. If we had continued like before, probably Boko Haram will have taken over Jos, Plateau State, by now.”
Hassan is Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to Speaker Dogara.