The Federal Government has received a nod to withdraw $1b from the Excess Crude Account to prosecute its campaign against insurgency.
The 36 state governors gave the approval yesterday during a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) in Abuja.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki told reporters at the end of the session chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo: “The NEC resolved through the chairman of the governors’ forum to support the effort of the Federal Government in the area of security. We are pleased with the achievement that has been made till date in the fight against insurgency particularly in the North East.
“We expect that the amount will include purchase of equipment, procuring intelligence, logistics and all that is required to ensure we finally put to an end, the scourge of insurgency, Obaseki disclosed.”
The Edo State governor said the meeting also discussed the current scarcity of petrol in parts of the country. According to him, “The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources assured Council that within the next 48 hours, fuel supply would be restored nationwide because there is enough fuel in our strategic reserves. The ministry has released fuel from these reserves and it expects distribution will reach all parts of the country within the next 48 hours.”
The North East meanwhile will require $1.1b in aid to 6.1 million displaced persons in 2018.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, who made the disclosure in Maiduguri yesterday, warned that the affected risked famine unless urgent assistance is provided.
He stressed the need for persuasion and partnership with local and international donor agencies to raise funds for the humanitarian operation. “I also want to see leadership and ownership of this response from the government of Nigeria,” he said, urging continued Federal Government’s support to save lives and rebuild livelihoods.
He disclosed that, in Borno State alone, over 1.3 million people were returning to homes liberated by the military in the last two years, noting that only sustained support could avert grave consequences at camps for the displaced.
“The only solution to the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria is peace,” Kallon added, calling on the Nigerian government to embark on a political process to complement ongoing humanitarian initiatives.
But the insurgency appears to have stirred complaints of persecution by Christians in the region.
The Arewa Pastors Forum for Peace (APFP) alleged: “When we try to rebuild, the local and state governments prevent us. They demand title documents of churches built many years ago by our grandparents. They physically stop us from even returning to Christian-dominated villages and communities.”
The group’s national president, Bishop Mbayor Japheth Ndarchang, accompanied by legal adviser, Martins Edoja, made the observation yesterday in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja.
APFP accused northern political elites of using Boko Haram to wipe out Christians from the region. It claimed Christian students were being denied admission into most northern universities, while employment into federal and state civil services were being reserved for Muslims or persons with Muslim names. It said many Christians who could not endure the discrimination were resorting to use of Islamic names.
The group also alleged that at the Nigerian Defence Academy, admission of cadets was being skewed in favour of southern Muslims.
Ndarchang said the objective of APFP is to cater for the interest of Christians in the North and ensure they live in peace with their Muslim neighbours. He said the major challenge facing Christians in the region was existential. According to him, “We are being killed everyday and our houses and churches are being burnt down.”
He alleged that Boko Haram was still in control of some communities in the North and that powerful interests in the region were using the sect to keep Christians from returning to their homes.
He said: “If the government says it has defeated Boko Haram, why are there still camps for internally displaced persons everywhere. As I speak to you, the insurgents are in Gwoza and other areas in Borno State. I was there to visit pastors and other brethren two weeks ago. We were escorted by soldiers. You could see Boko Haram everywhere in the surrounding areas and one could easily get killed.”
He appealed to the Federal Government to put an end to the discriminatory practices and aid the return of Christians and rebuilding of their homes and churches