The Federal Government has distributed fishing equipment to Bakassi returnees and presented internally displaced persons (IDPs) with relief materials in Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, the federal commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), distributed the items on behalf of the Federal Government.
Sulaiman-Ibrahim also used the opportunity to inaugurate the Oron field office of the commission and presented a utility vehicle for its operations.
She commended the displaced persons for their orderly conduct and peaceful coexistence in the IDPs camp in Udung Okung, Oron Local Government area and assured them that her visit to the area would have a positive impact on the welfare of the refugees in the camp.
She explained that President Mohammadu Buhari was interested in the welfare of Nigerians, especially the vulnerable members of the society.
“President Buhari is very mindful of the welfare of the citizens, especially the vulnerable ones. I had to come and see things for myself, I can tell you that as I get back to Abuja, the minister will be briefed and positive things will happen here.”
“I want to encourage you not to allow the conditions here to affect your dreams. This present condition shouldn’t lower your spirit, know that tomorrow holds a lot, and with determination, you can overcome the present challenges. I commend your orderly conduct and for being able to set a peace settlement mechanism without resorting to conflict.”
In his address, Cajetan Iheanacho, head of office, Oron field, disclosed that “the refugees location in Akwa Ibom State covers sixteen (local government areas, but for administrative convenience, it is reduced to seven settlements.”
He said that since the office commenced operations in the area, nearly two years ago, the commission has carried out the identification, documentation and registration of refugees in the state.
“The NCFRMI Akwa Ibom field office in collaboration with UNHCR carried out the registration exercise of the refugees in the month of September 2021.
“At the end of the registration we had a total number of 1670 registered refugees.”
He added that the office has been working with other partners in the daily profiling of new arrivals in the state.
“In Oron alone, we have over 200 profiled new arrivals awaiting registration and in Nsit Ubium. We discovered over 130 refugees and profiled them. So far in the entire state, we have over 1500 new arrivals awaiting registration.”
He commented on the efforts of other international partners and independent non-governmental organisations that have been collaborating with the commission in the state.
On its part, the Akwa Ibom Bakassi Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons Cooperative Association (AKIBARCON) in an address by the president, Solomon Inyang and secretary-general, Anthony Edem, appealed to the Federal Government to implement the Green Tree agreement that was signed in 2006.
The group lamented that the non-implementation of the agreement has adversely affected the economic and social well-being of the Bakassi returnees and internally displaced persons in Akwa Ibom.
He regretted that since the, “unplanned and unprepared return from Bakassi Penninsula in 2008, it was only in 2022 that we started receiving welfare packages and relief materials from the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The group decried the deplorable conditions of about75,000 voiceless Bakassi returnees and urged government agencies to make relief materials available to them on a monthly basis.
The association described the visit of the federal commissioner and the distribution of the fishing equipment as a “milestone”, and also expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for the relief materials donated to them.
Among the items donated were two engine boats, two wooden boats, assorted food items, blankets, mattresses, utensils and grinding machines.