REHABILITATION AND RESETTLEMENT OF DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA IN THE FACE OF THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

newsletterpic2

There cannot be meaningful development in a state of insecurity and anarchy. The conditions of the North East could rightly be described as nothing less than a state of war. The dreaded outlawed religious group Boko Haram is reported to have started a war with the Nigerian state in the wake 2009 and since then has held many towns in the northeastern state of Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno to ransom. Between 2011 and 2019 territories have been annexed, governance structures sacked, thousands killed and millions displaced. A people who once boasted of being a major supplier of food and agricultural products are now living in displaced persons camps depending on relief from good-minded people from home and abroad for survival. Despite the insistence by the federal government of Nigeria that the militant group has been technically decimated, they continue to cause havoc to the military and civilian population. Between 2014 and 2018, 2800 events and more than 31,000 reported fatalities have been attributed to Boko Haram, making it one of the world’s deadliest armed groups.[1]

 

While much effort and attention have been paid to the fight against the insurgency, not very much attention has been given to the direct bearers of this war. Over 2.5 million people have been recorded to have lived in the displaced peoples camp at one point in time or the other[1]. The displaced persons live under terrible conditions in the IDP camp- conditions that are aggravated by corrupt practices perpetrated by those vested with the responsibility of taking care of them. Instead of being taken care of, they are being taken advantage of. Funds meant to cater for their welfare are being diverted for personal use. There are also records of instances of the rape of young and vulnerable girls by the military, besides the intimidation and solicitation of sex from these girls in exchange for food

.newsletterpic1 Figure 1. Participants at the dialogue to “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast

Social action has been carrying out campaigns to promote awareness of climate change impacts in the Lake Chad Basin and to encourage accountability in the management of humanitarian and development spending in northeast Nigeria. This is in direct response to the humanitarian crisis that has left over 7.1 million people in Nigeria in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance. As part of the series of engagements, dialogue and conferences to promote civil society analysis of the humanitarian situation in the northeast, Social Action organised two key dialogue with stakeholders in Borno state in April and July 2019. The conference held on the 2nd of April had the theme “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast”. The conference sought to open up discussions around the proposed rehabilitation plan of the government with the view to x-raying holistically the content and component of the action plan as well as examine civil society position or perspective. The dialogue also aimed at reviewing CSOs readiness to engage the process to serve as an independent monitoring unit to achieve collective impact.

Social Action program officer, Isaac Botti noted that the crisis is one of the world’s most urgent and complex humanitarian situations and thus the need for participants to engage the theme of the dialogue. He noted that the Federal Government’s plan to move the region away from humanitarian needs to concrete sustainable development is a good initiative if sincerely implemented with the participation of the civil society. He further emphasized the objective of the plan and the need for the civic constituencies to interrogate it, discuss it and come up with a concrete engagement plan and input that will further enrich the document.

In a paper presentation Professor Abubarka Mua’zu, the Executive Director of Borno Coalition for Democrat and Progress (BOCODEP) noted that the process of reconstruction involves partial or total relocation and rebuilding the essential physical infrastructures and shelter.

The conference which had in attendance representatives from the academia, government and non-governmental organisations, foreign and local stakeholders and community groups and persons came to the conclusion that to have an effective rehabilitation plan, there was the need to strengthen community structures to handle mass rehabilitation by involving all stakeholders and imbibed best practices for integration. They also agreed on the need for a serious consultation with other members of the civil society to ensure effective coordination of efforts.

newsletterpic2

Figure 2. Participants at the Stakeholders Validation of the multi-sectoral needs assessment

The conference in July was the stakeholder validation meeting to provide the needed nods and buy-in to the reports and findings from the Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment. The validation workshop had representations of different categories of displaced populations, host communities and key stakeholders that have good knowledge of critical humanitarian and human rights issues in the northeast, to take the feat of checking or proving the validity or accuracy of the process and results of the multi-sectoral needs assessment. It further helped in identifying missing elements and gaps in the needs assessment findings that were addressed in the final needs assessment report and also deliberated on preliminary emerging messages about priorities of humanitarian interventions in Borno State particularly and the northeast in general

[1] https://reliefweb.int/report/nigeria/new-normal-continuity-and-boko-haram-s-violence-north-east-nigeria

CORRUPTION AND DEPRIVATION OF THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS LIVING WITH DISABILITY IN NIGERIA

newsletterpic4

The evil of corruption and the adverse effect on the entire facets of society does not discriminate. Corruption induced poverty has sunk its proboscis on the living tissues of the old and young, male and female, able and disabled people. This anathema is determined to condemn the people to scrounge for what is rightfully theirs in perpetuity as long as the victims prefer to remain docile.

This fact was reiterated at a consultative meeting held on the 19th of June, 2019 in Port Harcourt by Social Action with people living with disability (PWD). The program examined the challenges PWDs encounter in a fast-changing world and attempted to provide solutions to resolutions reached.

Prince Ekpere, while welcoming the PWDs and other stakeholders to the event, noted that the cost of corruption on the people can best be described as deprivation, which has led to underdevelopment, lack and poverty and wondered how PWDs are able to cope in a society that does not care for its citizens. He assured participants at the event that issues raised will be documented and mainstreamed into activities and programs for advocacy and engagements with relevant stakeholders

Neglect and discrimination was identified as one of the major issues confronting the development of the disability community in Nigeria and Rivers State in particular, Stella Ekina of the visual impaired cluster opined that efforts should be made to declare free, inclusive compulsory education for PWDs, as education remains the channel through which enlightenment can be achieved, she also said that government should be willing to sponsor those who have identified one skill or another to learn as a way of empowering PWDs and elevating their plight.

Miss Lydia Kelly narrated her ordeal during the just concluded general elections when she attempted to vote and questioned the rationale behind non-provision of support and materials to enable PWDs vote, saying a large chunk of eligible voters were disenfranchised because they are PWDs

newsletterpic3

Figure 1. A cross-section of PLWD in a consultative meeting with Social Action Port Harcourt

Nation Mathew decried the state of the only school for PWDs in the state and called for more schools, saying it won’t cost the state government anything to situate at least one of such schools in each of the senatorial district.

They decried the manner in which those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that PWDs are provided for have rather chosen to increase their sufferings, by deliberately allowing corruption to fester on.

Mr. Idor Livinus of the ICPC reassured the PWDs of their willingness to bring to book any government official who has in one way or another been involved in the diversion of funds meant for the development of PWDs in the state, he encouraged them to write to the commission to investigate such officials.

Mr. Ellis Nria Dapper, a director at the national orientation agency, emphasized the need for increased awareness and sensitization of the public on the need to stop discrimination against persons with disabilities, saying no one chooses to be born to disable, and encouraged PWDs to visit the NOA office more frequently to address some of the issues they face.

newsletterpic4Figure 2. a call for free, inclusive compulsory education as a way of achieving enlightenment and empowering the PWDs

Prince, in conclusion, made a short presentation on problem-solving and assured all, that the strengthening youth participation against corruption (YPAC) project is interested in ensuring equal access for all despite their socials and or economic status.

It was agreed that PWDs, NOA, ICPC and social action will lead joint advocacy and engagement activities to various stakeholders in the state, to ensure that PWDs are not left behind in the development scheme of the state.

RESEARCH/MONITORING OF REDD+ ACTIVITIES IN ONDO STATE

Ossa rain forest

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. In other words, is a scheme that promises to pay cash to encourage forests to be set aside as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change. The scheme which was first introduced to Nigeria in Cross Rivers state has received condemnation from well-meaning stakeholders including the host communities and civil society organisations for its failure to meet up with the initial promised it held. While the locals are prevented and even arrested by the REDD+ enforcement and monitoring task force for taking advantage of the resources of the forests earmarked for this scheme, very little or nothing has come to them as compensation for preserving the forest. This has robbed them of the means of livelihood from lumbering and farming, a profession they have known all their lived.

REDDSocial Action Field Monitoring Team with a local at Osse Forest Reserve

 

When the news of the expansion of REDD+ to Nasarawa and Ondo States broke out, Social Action commissioned a field monitoring of REDD+ in Ondo State with the view of working with communities and relevant stakeholders in the State as it has been doing in Cross River State and an extension of same to Nasarawa State.

A visit to Ondo State REDD+ pilot sites revealed that REDD Readiness started in 2016 and will be ending in 2020. There are 16 forest reserves in the state according to the State REDD+ Coordinator, Mr. David Adesina and only two are being used as pilot sites with a view of expansion to other reserves. They are Osse Forest Reserve and Akure Forest Reserve. While the Osse forest is tending towards savanna, the Akure forest is a complete, thick rainforest. Following approval by the state executive council, a moratorium is placed on logging in these two forest reserves and a joint task force commissioned to enforce it.

In our interaction with the REDD Coordinator in the state, he expressed frustration that no benefit has come from REDD. He, therefore, felt reluctant to speak to communities empty-handed without bringing them financial benefits from REDD+.

After several hours of searching for the leaders in the communities making up Osse, the team was eventually directed to Owani-Idoani where they met with High Chief Akinola Olisa who, incidentally, was the second in command to the overall Chief heading all 6 communities in the Osse Forest Reserve. He informed the team during their interaction that the state promised some sort of sharing formula which will benefit the people but no immediate benefit was given. Though they were promised of some benefits that will accrue to them in the long run, what those benefits translate to has not been made clear to them.

In Obada community Akure, the team met with a community leader Adebayo Waheed who expressed the readiness of the community to work with Social Action. He took the team on a walk into the forest while he explained some activities that had taken place in the area. He said the state forest, where logging still takes place, intersects the Queen’s Plot and we could see a truck with wood leaving the forest.

Obada has Small River that connects the community to the other side of the forests reserve and the bridge is constructed with wood

queen plot-obada

Figure 2. Queen Plot, Akure Forest Reserve.

There is a forest reserve called “Queen’s Plot” located in the Obada/Akpamu forest in the Akure forest reserve connected by the bridge. It is said to be where the Queen of England commissioned the first saw-mill in Nigeria and thus reserved as a federal forest park. The historic dilapidated structure that housed the Mill at the time can still be seen there, very closed to a new building being constructed

queen-paek-obadaFigure 3. The historic dilapidated structure that reportedly housed the first saw-mill commissioned by  the Queen of England in Nigeria  

After considering its findings, the monitoring team made the following recommendations

  1. Community Level Consultative Meetings

To organize sensitization programs in each of the two REDD+ pilot sites of Osse and Akure to sensitize the people on REDD+ with the experience from Cross River State. The objective of this meeting is to make them understand the negative impact of the scheme to communities in Nigeria and other countries that have adopted the scheme using the experience of Cross River State where REDD+ started since 2009 as a fulcrum.

  1. Joint Sensitization/Consultative Meeting with Ondo Pilot communities: 

After holding meetings in each of the pilot sites as was done in Cross River State, a meeting should be organized to bring community leaders and people from both Osse and Akure Forest reserves together. At this meeting, three community persons and Odey Oyama, the head of our coalition in Cross River State, will be brought to speak to the community people and share experiences

 

Boiling Over: Global Warming, Hunger And Violence In The Lake Chad Basin

boling_over

REPORT LAUNCH AND PANEL DISCUSSION 

Venue:           Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja FCT, Nigeria

Date:             15 May 2019

Time:              9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

The Lake Chad Basin is the scene of one of the first major international conflicts linked to climate change. Here, the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in the killing of over twenty thousand people and created a massive humanitarian disaster with over three million displaced and many more in need of assistance. However, as one resident of Maiduguri, Borno State commented, “there was already massive displacement in northeastern Nigeria before the advent of Boko Haram”. The displacement of people and impoverishment resulted from ecological changes and inadequacies in institutional responses which enabled discontent to germinate.

Read More

Nigeria Resource Justice Conference focuses on petroleum and communities in the Niger Delta

Nigeria-Resource-Justice-Conference-focuses-on-petroleum-and-communities-in-the-Niger-Delta

After two decades of civil rule in Nigeria, over one thousand representatives of impacted communities, citizens groups, universities and national and sub-national agencies participated in the Nigeria Resource Justice Conference, which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 2nd May 2019. Organised by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), the Conference provided a platform for participants to examine the situation of communities in the sites of oil and gas production and to set policy agendas to tackle current challenges.

Read More

Petroleum And Communities In The Niger Delta: Setting The Policy Agenda Following Two Decades Of Civil Rule

Petroleum-And-Communities-In-The-Niger-Delta-Setting-The-Policy-Agenda-Following-Two-Decades-Of-Civil-Rule-02

WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT INTEGRATED CENTRE (SOCIAL ACTION), DR. ISAAC ‘ASUME’ OSUOKA AT THE CONFERENCE, PETROLEUM AND COMMUNITIES IN THE NIGER DELTA: SETTING THE POLICY AGENDA FOLLOWING TWO DECADES OF CIVIL RULE, HELD AT THE ATLANTIC HALL, HOTEL PRESIDENTIAL, PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE ON THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2019.

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Nigeria Resource Justice Conference, 2019. I recognise the sacrifices that you have all made to be in attendance today. These are challenging times for residents of the Niger Delta area. In my communication with invited representatives of communities ahead of today’s conference, many expressed concern about travelling to Port Harcourt through the East-West Road due to the high level of banditry, kidnappings and killings recorded in recent weeks. Indeed there is a heightened feeling of insecurity in Rivers State and other Niger Delta communities, as elsewhere in the country. The situation may have gotten worse in the buildup to and the aftermath of the 2019 General Elections. It would seem that twenty years after the restoration of civilian rule in Nigeria, we are experiencing worsening human security conditions in this resource-rich region.

Read More

Social Action’s Maiduguri Dialogue Repositions Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in Northeast Nigeria

Social-Actions-Maiduguri-Dialogue-Repositions-Civic-Constituencies-for-Rehabilitation,-Reconstruction-and-Resettlement-in-Northeast-Nigeria

As part of the series of activities to promote civil society engagement of the humanitarian crisis in the northeast of Nigeria, Social Action on 2nd of April 2019, organised a dialogue with the theme, “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast” in Maiduguri, Borno State. The event served as a platform for civil society actors, academics and government officials to discuss the proposed federal government plan for rehabilitating the conflict-ravaged northeast, and to identify opportunities for collaboration towards addressing immediate and longer-term needs in the area. In particular, the dialogue examined CSOs readiness to engage and monitor the implementation of the plan.

Read More

The Rivers Debate 2019: Promoting a culture of political accountability

Figure-From-left-to-right,-Mr-Victor-Fingesi-(ADP),-Chief-Isaac-Wonwu-(Labour-Party)-and-Chief-Precious-Elekima-(SDP)-on-the-podium-for-the-River-Debate-2019
Figure From left to right, Mr Victor Fingesi (ADP), Chief Isaac Wonwu (Labour Party) and Chief Precious Elekima (SDP) on the podium for the River Debate 2019

 

One of the features of the March 2019 general elections in Nigeria was the expansion of the culture of political debates for candidates. Already common to established electoral democracies globally, such debates sometimes involve citizens gathering in close proximity to candidates in town hall settings as the as aspirants discuss their policy agendas and how they intend to achieve them.

Read More

2019 ELECTIONS; EDO CITIZENS MARSHAL OUT LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR CANDIDATES

2019-ELECTIONS;-EDO-CITIZENS-MARSHAL-OUT-LEGISLATIVE-AGENDA-FOR-CANDIDATES

With the general elections set to usher in a set of political office holders and leaders across the Country, citizens and groups in Edo State, south-south Nigeria, have outlined a set of key legislative agenda for candidates contesting for elections for the various legislative constituencies of the State.
The agenda-setting took place at a series of Town hall Meetings put together by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), in partnership with the Shehu Yar’adua Foundation, with support from the MacArthur Foundation, across the three legislative constituencies of Edo north, Edo south and Edo central of the State in February, 2019.

Read More

ADVOCACY VISITS TO STAKEHOLDERS IN THE ELECTION PROCESS

IMG-20190123-WA0021

 

SOCIAL ACTION VISITS THE GUBER CANDIDATE OF ACTION DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Social Action with partner organisations paid an advocacy visit to the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party at the party secretariat in Port Harcourt. The visit which took place on the 12thof January 2019, was one in a series aimed at meeting with stakeholder of the main political parties and traditional rulers in the state to discuss matters critical to the enshrinement of good governance and accountability using the 2019 general elections as a fulcrum to driving the campaign.

IMG-20190123-WA0021

Figure 1From Left to right- Green Isaac, Peter Mazzi, Victor Fibresima, Achonwa Okogba, Sebastian Kpalap

At the secretariat, the team met with the gubernatorial candidate of the party Mr. Victor Fingesi, a party chieftain, Achonwa Okogba and some party faithfuls.

Mr. Fingesi, while speaking on his vision for the state and why he wanted to contest for the position of the governor said he wanted a peaceful and credible election and would do all it takes on his part to achieve it.

 

The Social Action Team Lead by Peter Mazzi intimated the gubernatorial candidate and the party members of the purpose of the visit which was to ascertain the philosophy of the party as it has to do with good governance through transparency and accountability in the operation of public finance and also citizens participation in the process. He stated further that corruption is one of the reasons the people of the Niger Delta have continued to live in the current state of underdevelopment and affirmed that the interest of Social Action is on the citizens and their ability to make informed decision based on the right information available to them, especially during the general elections.

While responding, Mr. Fingesi said he intends to put the right people and mechanism in place to check corrupt practices and enshrine good and responsive governance if voted into office.

He said the party’s constitution supports a robust representation of women and the youth in governance and promise to ensure that his cabinet is reflective of the objectives of the party if voted to office. He also planned to create jobs by supporting and developing other sectors, order than the oil sector, like agriculture and tourism to boost the GDP of the state.

Top amount the party’s point agenda according to Mr. Fingesi are

  • empowerment of Rivers people,
  • reduction of poverty,
  • provision of standard and qualitative education and
  • food sufficiency through agricultural programmes

 

 

The Social Action Team which also include Sebastian Kpalap and Green Isaac, charged the party to play by the rules of the election, encourage her supporters to eschew violence and vote-buying and make their campaign issue-based.

 

 


ANTICORRUPTION TEAM PAYS ADVOCACY VISIT TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS UMEJURU

As part of the campaign by the Anticorruption Network to galvanize support of the citizen for a conscious and concerted effort toward opposing corruption and demanding accountability from their elected representatives, the Anticorruption Network (AcoNET) paid an advocacy visit to His Royal Highness Eze (Amb) Eche A.Umejuru, Eze Okwu Onu Ka Oha 1 of Idu Ogba.

IMG-20190130-WA0007#1

Figure 1His Royal Highness Umejuru and the Anticorruption Team

According to Green Isaac who lead the team, the Network scheduled the visit to the royal father because if the recognition of the influence of traditional rulers over their subjects and the importance of the traditional institution in shaping views, perceptions and actions.

According to Green, the bane of development in the communities is opacity in the financial transaction of public accounts. Developmental projects meant for the communities often end up in private coffers and so while a few persons seem to be benefiting from such contracts, the majority of people suffer. The results are substandard products or service delivery or even abandoned projects.

While responding, His Royal Highness thanked the team for the courage to come out to speak boldly about corruption when many would either want to benefit from it or at best ignore it. He agreed that a lot of project have been initiated in the past, which either did not see the light of the day or never got completed. He said the people of Idu Ogba are peaceful and law abiding and would vote at the general elections based on the manifestos of the parties

He encouraged the team not to relent in their campaign and promised to help in any way to encourage the campaign. He also promised to carry the message to his subjects, especially the youth.