The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has traced the raging humanitarian crisis in the North East of Nigeria to the nation’s failure to draw lessons from the civil war to build her internal capacity and mechanisms for managing such situations.
This was even as he reaffirmed the National Assembly’s commitment to going the extra mile to bring succuor to parts of the country facing humanitarian challenges.
Ekweremadu spoke when he received a delegation of the Princess Modupe Ozolua-led Empower 54, which paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja at the weekend.
He observed that as a country that had gone through armed conflict and humanitarian crisis, Nigeria ought to have learnt from such experience and strengthened her capacities at peace-building and managing humanitarian challenges.
He said: “As a young boy in the 1960s, I experienced firsthand the humanitarian crisis in the Eastern part of Nigeria occasioned by the civil war. Then, we had to depend on international donors and humanitarian organizations.
“Unfortunately, from the developments so far in the North East, it is clear that, like virtually every other thing in our history, we did not learn from that experience. We remain heavily dependent on humanitarian organizations and donors.
“If we had learnt from the experience of the civil war, Nigeria would have needed little or no external support. We would have built our internal capacity and mechanisms to manage the North East situation”.
Ekweremadu, however, commended the Empower 54 for its humanitarian outreach, particularly its efforts to have some of its supplies manufactured in Nigeria.
“It is good news that Empower 54 is not just importing ready-to-use foods, but also beginning to manufacture them in Nigeria. It means we are beginning to grow as a country; and that we are learning from our past mistakes”, he added.
He recalled that the National Assembly had visited the Internally Displaced Persons, made institutional and individual donations, as well as passed the North East Development Commission Bill and supplementary appropriations to bring succour to the insurgency-devastated region.
“However, as a government, we have to work hard to avoid whatever led to the crisis in the East in the 1960s and presently in the North East so that we can put our country on a better trajectory to development”, stressed.
Speaking earlier, the Founder and Chair of Empower 54, Princess Modupe Ozolua, said the organisation was not all about humanitarian outreach, but also economic empowerment to help the victims of insurgency to stand on their feet again.
She added that her Empower 54 was also working in other parts of the country as well as Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo.