THE Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, was recently at the headquarters of the Nigerian Customs Service, Abuja, to solicit assistance for the millions of internally-displaced persons, IDPs, and other embattled citizens in the State and the North East needing urgent food support.
Accompanied by his immediate predecessor, Senator Kashim Shettima, Zulum alerted Nigerians and the international community to the urgent humanitarian (especially food) needs of the state shellacked for the past ten years by Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.
The Nigerian Customs is one of the Federal agencies which regularly confiscates prohibited items such as foodstuff from smugglers. Instead of these being destroyed or auctioned off or even stolen, they can come in very handy in helping feed the millions of starving Nigerians displaced from their natural abodes by forces beyond their control. pThe insurgency, combined with the drastic effects of climate change has produced over 2.4 million displaced persons. Some of them who have been restored to their reconstructed communities cannot engage in safe farming because of the incessant raids and ambushes by Boko Haram terrorists who also prey on the people for their own food supply.
Currently, more than 150,000 Nigerians of Borno extraction are taking refuge in Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon. According to the international Emergency Food Security Assessment, EFSA, published in April 2019, severe food insecurity was reported “highest” in northern and central parts of Borno State where Boko Haram resurgence, climate change and returnees from IDP camps necessitated Governor Zulum’s cry for help.
According to the report: “Food security remains driven by incidences of hostilities as well as communal conflicts between farmers and herders, limited access to farming and grazing land, including livelihood opportunities, stretched communal resources due to increased dependency by IDPs and returnees, extended dry spells and high food prices”.
In every war situation, the issue of food supply and management is always very central. There is often the need to ensure enough food gets to the troops and the civilian population while the supply lines of the enemies are cut off.
We call on relevant government agencies to combine efforts with the numerous international charities active in the North East to reduce starvation among the populace. The Federal Government must remove politics from the anti-Boko Haram war and focus more efforts at improving the effectiveness of governance in areas liberated from the insurgents.
It is only when such communities live in a stable and safe atmosphere that they can begin to support themselves and, ultimately, the war effort. We thank the Comptroller General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, for his eagerness to start the immediate release of food supply to those in need. All hands must be on deck.