signs Peace Building and Reconciliation Commission Bill
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has appealed to the United Nations, UN, to pay attention to the humanitarian crisis in the state and the North Central zone of the country in general as done in the North East.
The Governor also urged the global organization to also lunch a more coordinated effort at intervening in the
zone as well as push for the creation of the North Central Development Commission as established in the North East.
The Governor who made the call Wednesday in Makurdi during the signing of the Benue State Peace Building and Reconciliation Commission Bill lamented that the state was passing through the worst humanitarian crisis with over two million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, saying “unfortunately, the security challenges that led to the present humanitarian crisis in the State are now exposing the State to food crisis arising from food insecurity, risks of producing a generation of illiterates as some children have been in IDP Camps for over seven years, and a rising mental health crisis due to unhealed trauma and stunted self-development among others.”
While commending the global organization for its interventions in Benue state, the Governor drew the organisation’s attention “to the imbalance in the donor agencies’ interventions in the country as such interventions seem to be tilted more to the North East to the extent of literally ignoring the crisis bedeviling the North Central/Middle Belt region.
“Sadly, we have been agitating for a North Central/Middle Belt Development Commission similar to the one created for the North East by the Federal Government to no avail. It is my hope and prayer that the UN organisation will strengthen its efforts toward this matter and push for much more coordinated donor support not just for the North Central and also for the creation of the North Central Development Commission at the Federal level.”
The Governor who also disclosed that his government had fully integrated the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, into the planning of its programmes and projects said “we are fully committed to meeting all our commitments to joint programming and counterpart funding required of the State.
“However, this perennial crisis has remained a blight on our overall development objectives. Thus, with all that the UN has done for the people of Benue, I am pained to state that Benue people still need UN support. We need you to advocate for the promotion and protection of our rights as a people; advocate for the observance of the Rule of Law, to ensure equity and justice for all Nigerians.
“We need training and capacity building on managing trauma; we need you to continue to support us as we move post assent to operationalize the Law and further cascade this development to the community level.”
While calling for peace in the state, he noted that “Benue State is not called the ‘Food Basket of the Nation’ for nothing. But if Benue people continue to be displaced, they can’t farm. If they are unhealthy, they can’t farm. And if Benue children are uneducated, they can’t have the required skills to transform the State’s agricultural and agro-industrial sectors. Our people in the IDPs Camps want to return to their ancestral lands. All I ask is that the UN presence in Benue goes beyond the Humanitarian needs, which I know are short-term and immediate.”
Earlier the United Nations Resident Humanitarian Cordinator, UNRC, in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale who commended Governor Ortom, the state government, and stakeholders for making the bill a reality also commend his “UN colleagues from UNDP, UN Women, FAO, and OHCHR for their vital work strengthening the capacities of this state in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, particularly with the efforts at addressing conflict tensions in the region through the UN Secretary General’s Peace Building Fund.
“A special nod of gratitude also goes to UNDP who have partnered with the Benue State Government to realize their overall peace architecture, which has led to today’s celebratory event.”