Federal Government has approved N10 billion for the reconstruction of communities ravaged by herdsmen attacks in Benue and other states of the federation.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this when he addressed thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Abagena camp in Makurdi on Wednesday.
Osinbajo, who said he was representing President Buhari on the visit, disclosed that the money had been approved at the Federal Security Council meeting held recently, to take care of security, reconstruction of damages communities and restoration of farms and farmlands.
“I am here to represent President Buhari who visited in March. He had asked that a study of all the ravaged communities be made and have identified that there are three things that must be done.
“The first is security. We want to ensure that the places that have been destroyed are secured; second thing is to ensure that the IDPs go back home and homes are rebuilt. The third is that we secure farms and farmlands so that the farmers can return back to their farm and also assist non farmers; traders to continue with their trade as well as assist in the education of the children,” he said.
The Vice President, who said the reconstruction of Benue had been made his business, said, “You will be seeing me more often in Benue state. All of these must be funded. We are providing you with your homes, which will look better than what was destroyed. It is your right as great people of Nigeria and I want you to know that nobody is doing you favour.”
While he turned to the children, Osinbajo told them “you are going to be better and happier. You are winners and as your parents, we will make sure you are happier than you are now and that you are successful too. By God’s grace, all your worries and sufferings have come to an end today,” he said.
He said the Federal Government as part of its programmes have introduced micro credits for women and artisans especially the Anchor Borrowers Programme, advising that the Benue people must organised themselves to be able to access these funds.
He said “All these suffering you are going through are just a stepping stone to all the good things that God will do in your lives. Dont ever think the suffering will continue. From now on, your morning has come and you will begin to access your joy and God will assist us to do all that we have promised”.
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, thanked the Vice President and President Buhari for their concerns. He noted the efforts of the federal government through NEMA which came to the aid of the state and also the setting up of a committee that had gone round the affected areas to put together the records.
He also thanked the President for deploying additional security to the state saying the state has witnessed relative peace since then.
“Whether it is mercenaries from Libya, Boko Haram or herdsmen, more forceful exercise should be applied and more security added to flush them out of Benue state so that the people can go home.
“The people want to go back home. From the look on their faces, you could see that it is not easy staying here at the camp. So far, we have lost some IDPs and about 69 new children have been delivered in the camp, under this terrible condition. You are not just an ordinary VP, you are a pastor, a man of God, a man who gives hope to the hopeless. We pray that this visit will give us hope and end our misery.
“We pray that God should give Nigeria a leader that would ensure justice and fairness. Ranching remains the best solution to herdsmen crisis in the state and across Nigeria and we thank you for presiding over the NEC, which has ratified it.”
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Emmanuel Shior told the Vice President that the Abagena IDPs camp which was opened first week of February is now occupied by 34,936 IDPs from from Benue and Nasarawa state.
Giving a breakdown of the figures, Shior said Women are 12,041, pregnant women 492, nursing mothers 616, men 6,363, children 16,583, the aged 258 while the disabled stood at 234.
He further explained that all the eight camps in Benue; Abagena, Daudu 1&2, Gbajimba, Anyiin, Abeda, Ugba and Logo, are housing 175,070 displaced persons out of which 80,450 are children.
“It is our belief that the presence of the VP will address the humanitarian challenges facing the state,” he said.
Some IDPs who also spoke, Angela Igbe, Joy Adamu and Bem Jeremiah appealed to the federal government to make haste to provide security for them so they can go back to their homes, schools and to their farms.
“We are not comfortable staying at the camp because there is too much congestion and some of us were supposed to write our final exams in school, but we cannot do that because we are in the camps. Please our President, we are tired of running helter skater and staying in camps. Help us. We want to go back home,” Joy Adamu said.