‘Need for more awareness on plight of IDPs’

Speech by Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, President Journalists for Christ International Outreach at the public presentation of Managing Internal Displacement Crisis in Nigeria holding @ PRESKAN Hotel, Abuja. On Thursday 20th of August, 2020

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to this special event which is the media round table cum public presentation of a report on ‘Managing Internal Displacement Crisis in Nigeria’

It is a research report carried out by Journalists for Christ International Outreach with the support of World Association for Christian Communications and Waldensian Church’s Otto Per Mille (OPM), Italy; towards global best practices in guaranteeing the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through the Media

Permit me to refresh our memory on how we got where we are today. For a greater part of 2018, Journalists for Christ International Outreach with the support of World Association for Christian Communications, Bread for the World, and Waldensian Church’s Otto Per Mille (OPM), Italy, carried out a study on the media portrayal of Internally Displaced People in Africa. The monitoring covered Nigeria, Kenya and The Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the end of the monitoring, JFC, came up with a publication titled, Muffled Voices. It is a compilation of the Media Reportage and Portrayal of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa with Case studies from Nigeria, Kenya and DRC. The publication was presented to stakeholders in the media and organizations that relate to IDPs in Nigeria. Associate Professor of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr. Sunday Oloruntola reviewed the publication in 2019 at a media event in Lagos.

From that report, it dawned on us that the issue of internal displacement is no longer what we can take with a pinch of salt. I recall that the Executive Director Centre for Children’s Health Education Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), Betty Abah who was at the review introduced a rather gripping dimension to the case of IDPs in Nigeria.

She noted that some of the IDPs are professionals, people of means and people who never expected that they would lose their homes. Unfortunately, when they are displaced they are subjected to all kinds of inhuman and demeaning treatment. Children are not given adequate attention. When people go to visit the IDP camps, nobody thinks of the girl child. It is amazing that those who support those in the IDP camps don’t even think of sanitary pads for the young girls and women in those camps. The living condition in the camps is appalling.

Assistant Chief Admin-Officer of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Mrs. Ola Erinfolami also made us realize that even in Lagos there are about 10,000 displaced persons including returnees from Libya.

Armed with the 2018 findings the JFC approached WACC and Waldensian Church’s Otto Per Mille (OPM), Italy on the need to do a follow-up on how to properly manage internal displacement crisis in Nigeria. And the organisations graciously supported us with funds to carry out the project. The result of their support is why we are here today.

We have been able to put together a report on how to manage internal displacement crisis in Nigeria. We are here today to brainstorm on the outcome of the presentation and create a working template for officials that are directly concerned with the issues of IDPs in Nigeria and also sensitize the media the more on how they can help in projecting IDP issues to the public.

We want to specifically thank our sponsors as mentioned earlier. We would not have been able to carry out the project if they have not graciously supported us. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless them.

But if there was financial support and there are no competent hands to carry out the project, we won’t be sitting here today. That is why we are specifically grateful to Dr. Sarah Macharia of WACC global for the useful insight she brought to bear in the course of the project.

 Mr. Francis Abayomi was the lead researcher for the report. He did a great job as we shall soon find out from the review of the publication. We sincerely thank him for his efforts. We cannot but thank Mr. ‘Sanmi Falobi who provided technical assistance in the structuring and guidance on the implementation of key components of the project. The JFC team of Dayo Emmanuel and Oyinlola Awonuga played critical roles in ensuring the birth of this baby.

We are grateful to Mrs. Erinfolanmi Ola of the National  Commission for Refugees Migration & IDPs,(Southwest Zone); Dr. Oloruntola Sunday of the  Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos; Miss Amaka Okoye of Plus TV  Africa; Mr. John Okocha, documentary journalist and filmmaker; Bilkisu Irama of PAGED  (Participatory Communication for Gender Development) Initiative, Abuja, Mrs. Funmi Falobi,  development journalist and editor, Social Development News (SDN); Mr. Adeola Ogunlade, a journalist at The Nation Newspaper; Mr. Gbenga Osinaike, publisher Church Times Nigeria, including online contribution from Jesse Tafida of Television Continental, Maiduguri, Nigeria for their contribution to the project.

It is hoped that as we discuss today and share perspectives, we will help to push the frontiers of awareness on internally displaced persons in Nigeria and by extension, help bring an end to the challenges facing this critical aspect of our life in Nigeria.