By Simeon Mpamugoh
Nigerian media has been urged to pay more attention to the prevailing living conditions and state of welfare of the Internally Displaced Person’s'(IDPs) by giving them voices.
The call was made by the President, Journalists for Christ International Outreach (JFC) Lekan Otufodunrin at stakeholders consultative forum and media parley with Journalists and IDP focal persons.
The event featured the unveiling of its project titled: “Advancing the rights and welfare of IDPs,” through media monitoring, investigative journalism and media driven advocacy.
It also Interfaced with representatives of IDPs community who gave additional insights into the living conditions and welfare of IDPs. The programme is supported by World Association for Christian Communications (WACC) and Prof. Furdie Welt and took place at the Tastee Fried chicken Hall, Ijaiye Ogba Lagos.
Otufodurin noted that displaced persons in Nigeria were voiceless and helpless and capturing their views in the camp would help those in power to look at issues about them and implement them.
He said, “There is need to teach them survival skills, basic rights, strengthen their household, provide food for them and integrate them into the society.”
Otufodurin who doubles as the secretary of WACC African region said that the project was in line with the objective of the JFC which is to promote communication rights and social justice. He disclosed that JFC has done projects that promoted gender equality in the media, media monitoring of IDPs coverage and managing internal displacement crisis in Nigeria.
Project Advisor Sanmi Falobi stressed the importance of building a network of journalists supporting IDPs. He said that the project aims to seek intervention on how journalists, communicators, content providers and writers can lend a voice to IDPs scattered across the country, particularly Lagos and Abuja.
“If we cannot reach the whole Nigeria, the media in Lagos and Abuja can capture their issues in their reportage, and then use it to interface with those that have the responsibility of taking care of the Internally displaced persons.”
Falobi identified some of the challenges facing these disadvantaged Nigerians who are not enjoying the benefits and rights of being Nigerians to education, good health, accommodation etc.
He expressed concern about the retinue of abuses and deprivations they suffer, which government has provided for in the budget. “We want to ensure that those basic rights are implemented for their welfare.
“Some of them are going through trauma and emotional torment, having left their homes to be camped somewhere, while others have seen their mothers raped and fathers killed by bandits.
“The media should use their writing ability to advocate better life for them. The worldly review of the issues, and charting way forward through various reports will ensure that the welfare and rights of the IDPs are taken care of,” he stated.
One of the three persons panelists who gave perspectives of life in the camp was John Okocha. He also expressed concern about their safety and what government was going to reintegrate and rehabilitate them back into the society after the insurgency.
Noting that mindset change and willingness to leave the camp were key to their survival, Okocha said, “Until we work on their mindset, giving them education is like pouring water on a duck.”
Other members of the panel included Chinagorom Okoro who represented Sesor Empowerment Foundation and Adeyeye Kemi.
The event was rounded off with personal experiences of two displaced women from the North in a camp in South West region of the country.