By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Benue State government has raised concern that the state is producing a generation of illiterate children as a result of the activities of armed herdsmen and the consequent humanitarian in the state.
The Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on SDGs and NEPAD and Chairman Technical Committee on Benue State Humanitarian Response Plan, BSHRP, Prof. Magdalene Dura made this known Tuesday when her team presented the plan to Governor Samuel Ortom for onward presentation to the public.
Prof. Dura stated that in the last five years, most of Benue’s children had been out of school and living in IDPs camps saying “from 2011 to the end of 2021, 21 out of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state came under attacks by armed herdsmen, leading to the displacement of over 1.5 million people.
“Aside the Fulani herdsmen induced humanitarian crisis, Benue State is also besieged by nature-induced humanitarian disasters like flooding and communal clashes.
“Majority of the displaced persons are living in host communities, others in official government camps while there are also unofficial camps set up by the IDPs themselves as self-help measures spread across the state. These persons have lost their shelter, livelihoods, some even health.
“Indeed, the most worrisome is that Benue is producing a generation of illiterates as most of our children, in the last five years, are out of school while they are in the camps.”
She also noted that the dire humanitarian situation in the state was further compounded by the influx of Cameroonian refugees into Kwande Local Government while escaping the conflict in their country.
While lamenting that the IDPs had their livelihoods destroyed and were in need of protection, food, shelter, medical assistance, Prof. Dura explained that the Benue State Humanitarian Response Plan was designed to align humanitarian response to the realities of operating and achieving impact in the context of Benue State.
Receiving the document, governor Samuel Ortom lamented the continued stay of Benue indigenes in IDPs camps and the consequent humanitarian crisis in the state.
He said: If you asked me when I was coming in as Governor if we would be where we are today, I would have told you it would not be possible.
“But it is not just possible that we are where we are today, it is also an unfortunate development. And I feel very sad as one of the leaders in this country that we have completely failed the people that voted us into power.
“There is no basis for us to be where we are today if patriotic and proactive steps were taken to reverse the trend. Unfortunately up till today, as we watch the global humanitarian crisis, within us in our country Nigerian we have more.
“I know that the people who are perpetrating these evil are not Nigerians. These are Fulanis from Niger, Libya, Senegal, Chad, Cameroon and more who have vowed to take over Nigeria and make it their own country.
“And today we have over 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Benue state and anyone of them that attempts to go back home is killed. Even more than 100 security personnel who were trained were killed by these people since 2017. It is an unfortunate development that we have found ourselves in.
“For a civil service state like Benue, supported by peasant farmers to have over 1.5 million IDPs in camps is telling on us. Our children cannot go to school and our women and men cannot go to the farms because of the maladministration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, led Federal Government and even when you attempt to advise them on what you think is ideal they turn it down.”
The Governor who urged Civil Society Organisations to widely circulate the document expressed hope that the plan would help in addressing the humanitarian crisis in the state.