By Jairus Awo
What would you have turned to, if you woke up to realize that the rest of your life will be spent in lack? Or that all the riches you ever knew have been taken away from you. Leaving in penury is already enough, adding displacement is forever a trauma.
These and the trauma of attacks is what the Benue displaced persons are going through.
Five years ago, Ukan Gabriel, was attacked by the suspected Fulani herders in his native home in Tukura, an underserved community in the Guma local government area of Benue State, Nigeria. He was a commercial farmer whose farm produce had attracted investors and traders. It was in the farming season and Ukan had planted for the season waiting for the harvest. He was taken unaware.
He was among the scores that were displaced due to the massive massacre in 2018 in Guma and Logo local government of Benue State.
Narrating the ordeal that led to his current situation, Ukan said, “I was sleeping in the night at about 11:00 am (WAT) when I heard gunshots, it was different from the usual gunshots by our local hunters. Before I knew what was happening, two of my brothers had been killed. How I manage to escape I can’t tell.”
“I think we ran close to an hour before we were able to find a place to hide. The next morning, more than ten persons were missing and reportedly killed.”
Ukan left everything and ran for his life. He now lives in the Tse-Yandev IDPs camp in Makurdi, the state capital but there is no food.
At the camp,
Tse yandev IDPs camp is located along with the federal housing, North-Bank Makurdi. According to the record comp seen by the camp chairman, over one thousand inmates exists in the camp. There is no hope in sight for them.
Like Ukan, several others were displaced and couldn’t return to their home after four years.
Hon. Terfa Kudi, a lawmaker representing Makurdi/Guma federal constituency confirmed this when he said that 70% of the constituency has been displaced. The number of Internally-Displaced Persons in Benue has been reported to be above 1.6million persons.
About two thousand of these people are in the makeshift caves made of worn out mosquito nets.
Terfa Livinus is an orange farmer in the Mbagwa community in the Makurdi local government area of Benue State. He no longer has access to the farm because the herders have taken Igboor as their permanent settlement.
“No farmer dares going there and return alive,” he said. “Terkimbi, my elder brother was slaughtered just recently in March. We were told that the herders had left. Although that was not the first time they said so. It is usually a matter of who is lucky that will not be killed. Some of our people are trying to go there to farm. Some have been killed.”
Statistics have projected the population of Nigeria to be growing rapidly with food demand rising accordingly. The Nigerian population is forecasted to reach over 400 million people by 2050. Estimations published in 2019 show that by 2050 the consumption of livestock products will increase significantly.
This scenario could have negative consequences on the food supply in the country. Over the last years, the average share of the Nigerian population suffering from severe food insecurity has been rising. Between 2018 and 2020, over 20 per cent of people experienced hunger. People with severe food insecurity would go for entire days without food. In fact, the food CPI is increasing month by month in Nigeria.