By Samaila Idris Hinna
Before my 15th July, 2016 trip to Maiduguri, it has been 6years I didn’t even think of going closer to Maiduguri due to fear of what may happen as a result of the terrorists’ activities especially on the roads linking Maiduguri to other states, were hundreds of people loss their precious lives through slaughtering, shooting or bombings and many were kidnapped and forcefully recruited into the terrorist group.
It was on July 7th 2016 the chairman and CEO of SmileMission HealthCare, Dr Saleh Abba informed me about a plan for Bama outreach, I asked again “Dr Saleh Bama?” He said, yes Bama, …I ponder for some seconds and said, its ok Saleh, we shall discuss more about it. We later start online mobilization of volunteers through whatsapp group. To my surprise, many people including ladies show interest of joining the outreach team.
I start making some contacts concerning the trip, were I called some friends from Maiduguri, some Bama indigenes and some friends in security outfits, especially those in Maiduguri. Among the nine people I called, seven of those i called asked me not to go for this trip, while two backed my intention, but ask me to excise more caution and be prayerful. I later developed full courage after going through the preliminary report of the challenges those Bama IDPs are facing.
Since our NGO is getting no fund from any organization, I locally launched an appeal among my colleagues in health sector and few individuals outside the Hospital, seeking for donation of old and new clothes, drugs, foodstuffs and any other item relevant for the IDPs, to my surprised people responded excellently by sending items in large numbers and the response gave me more courage to embark on the trip as they donate the items purposely for Bama IDPs.
As we continue mobilizing for manpower, 24hours to the trip, many volunteers registered their interest to join the team, the volunteers include Doctors, pharmacists, Lab Scientists, Nurses, Community Health officers, clinical psychologist, Human right lawyers and many more, but later on the course of preparation, many withdraw their intention of joining the outreach some hours before the trip, some with genuine reasons while some…. Hmmm!
In the morning of Saturday, we embarked on the trip to Bama with smiles on our faces, but by reaching “Konduga” our mood suddenly changed after seen the type of security presence and protocols for getting clearance to pass, as anything beyond Konduga is a no go zone for a civilian without military permission and escort. We follow and finished all the protocols and we were granted permission to proceeds on the trip with heavy military escorts.
As we are moving from Konduga to Bama in the midst of heavy military escort, the environment become so strange as the atmosphere suddenly changes, because all the villages and towns along that axis are deserted and are looking ghost with no standing structure and no sign of any living in all the villages from Konduga to Bama, which I counted about 15 villages, many more government buildings, filling stations, communication installations were destroyed beyond repairs along that axis.
I also noted a very vast patent land with green grasses which indicates patency of the land, but no farming or grazing activities took place in that land for more than 6 years. Indeed, non utilization of that vast land for farming activities may had likely contributes to the shortage of food in the country.
Entering Bama was disturbing as I only saw ghost town instead of Bama town, Bama is said to be the second largest town in Borno State, but almost everything is destroyed in the town, the only thing you can see is destroyed structures and our gallant Soldiers and Civilian JTF tirelessly patrolling around and outside Bama day and night to fish out the remnants of Boko Haram terrorist.
On entering the IDPs camp in Bama, the sight was very pathetic and heart touching, seeing elderly, children and women whom almost all of them are ill, in psychological distress, in hunger state, poorly sheltered, poorly clothed, the children are mostly malnourished, anemic. We also see many patients with serious health condition like Renal failure, anemic heart failure etc. Tears!
All indications show that, the Government is either doing very less or is poorly handling the IDPs in Bama as the IDPs are facing serious humanitarian crisis at present. Other donor bodies like UNICEF, UNCHR, are also doing very less in term of aid to this displaced destitute Bama people.
Am calling on Government, donor agencies, NGOs and individuals to come to the aids of those innocent Nigerians whom were denied freedom to live in comfort, freedom to stay in their houses, freedom to access health care, freedom to education, freedom to potable drinking water, freedom to other social amenities…. They need food, they need drugs, they need health workers, they need potable water, they need shelter, they need clothes and many more!
You can partner or donate with the NGOs who are willing to provide voluntary humanitarian services to those vulnerable Nigerians. Among NGOs ready for the course is Smile Mission Health Care (SMHC), a non-governmental, nonprofit, apolitical voluntary organization purposely aimed at helping and caring for the needy.
Gombe State Coordinator
Change Organisation Nigeria