By Ogenyl Ogenyi, Uyo
The Federal Government yesterday donated fishing equipments to Bakassi returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Oron, Akwa Ibom.
The ceremony, which was performed by Hajia Ismali Ahmed-Suleiman, Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons( NCFRMI) on behalf of the Presidency, also witnessed the presentation of relief materials to the affected persons.
Suleiman also used the occasion to inaugurate the Oron field office of the commission and a utility vehicle for operations.
The Federal Commissioner commended the displaced persons for their ordely conduct and peaceful coexistence in the IDPs camp in Udung Okung, Oron Local Council.
She assured them that her visit to the area would have a positive impact on the welfare of the refugees in the camp adding that the President was mindful about 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, and I want to assure you that now I have come and have seen, I can tell you that as I get back to Abuja, the honourable minister will be briefed and positive things will happen here.
She encouraged them not to allow their present conditions to despair them.
“I want to encourage you not to allow the conditions here to affect your dreams. This present condition shouldn’t lower spirit, know that tomorrow holds a lot, and with determination, you can overcome the present challenges.
“I commend your ordely conduct and for being able to set a peace settlement mechanism without resorting to conflict.” She said.
In his address, Mr Cajetan Iheanacho, Head of Office, Oron field disclosed that, “the refugees location in Akwa Ibom state is spread over sixteen (16) Local Government Areas, but for administrative convenience, it is reduced to seven settlements”.
Iheanacho said that since the take off of operations in the area, nearly two years ago, the commission has carried out the identification, documentation and registration of refugees in the state and registereda total number of 1670 refugees as at 2021.
He aided that the office has been working with other partners in the daily profilling 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 waiting registration”.
He commented the efforts of other international partners and independent NGOS that have been collaborating with the commission in the state.
On it’s part, the Akwa Ibom Bakassi Returnees and internally displaced persons cooperative association ( AKIBARCON) in an address by the President, Obong Solomon Inyang 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 state.
He regretted that since the, “unplanned and unprepared return from Bakassi Penninsula in 2008”, “it was only in 2022 that we started to receive welfare packages and relief materials from the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
The group decried the deplorable conditions of about, “75,000 voiceless Bakassi Returnees And Internally Displaced Persons in the State”, and urged the government agencies to make relief materials available to them on monthly basis.
It however described the visit of the federal commissioner and the flagging off of the fishing equipment as a “milestone”, and also expressed gratitude to the federal government for the relief materials donated to them.
Items donated included, two engine boats, two wooden boats, assorted food items, blankets, mattresses, utensils and grinding machines.