Echoes from Kaduna IDP camp
The story of Gwagwada, an agrarian community in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, 30-minute drive from Dutse, off Kaduna-Abuja highway, has been an unpleasant one to tell.
Its inhabitants have become easy preys for bandits and other criminal elements ravaging the former capital of Northern Nigeria. Many residents have fed from their abodes as a results of the consistent attack.
Some displaced persons have also fled from nearby communities to Gwagwada. They came in droves from Shoshokwa, Kakanmai, Five –Thirty, Toko, Kutifa, Kajari, Kugo, Kugosi, Ugwo, Kajare, Shepe, Ungofa, Gwasinu, Angwan Turei and Akunako.
Today, the community has become a huge refuge for internally dislodged persons, many of whom lost everything, including their beloved relatives, their farmlands and their livestock to banditry.
A visit to the community recently, indicated a glaring picture of their displacement. The people looked pale and bitter and seemed haunted by the tragic circumstances of the sudden relocation and displacement.
Sharing his unpleasant experience, the Councillor representing Gwagwada Ward, Sunday Barde, said: “Since 2018, we have been dealing with kidnapping in our community. My son and I were kidnapped and we paid N1.7 million to secure our freedom. We thank God for the gift of life, but so many people were not that lucky. They paid with their lives. Our people were before now without potable water. We were drinking from the river, the same river together with animals, thus leading to water-borne diseases.”
He acknowledged that the Transfer of Appropriate Sustainable Technology and Expertise (TASTE-Nigeria), with the support of the American government has been supportive: “They have been providing us with clean and safe water. Sarkin Gadani is also cooperating with us, by giving us lands where we are currently living.
He is calling on the government to support the community with security men in addition to self-efforts to secure the area from kidnappers and other sophisticated criminals, who have prevented our farmers from going to their farms.”
A displaced traditional leader, Danlamin Galadima, lamented: “Since these bandits chased us out of our village under Gadani, our lives have not been the same. We wondered about and slept wherever night met with us. That was the situation until we got to Gwagwada.”
Sabo Madami who hails from Shoshokwa village under Kakamai area recounted his experience: “When they kidnapped me, I was held for a week before we could raise N300,000. As soon as I was freed and returned home, another gang started coming. That was when we decided to seek refuge here because we have sold all we have to pay the ransom”.
As we speak, there is no one remaining in our village. Nobody is there. All of us from my village have moved here and the same applies to other villages affected by the madness. We have to abandon our farms and our remaining animals to be here. It is a terrible experience.”
A lady confided in this reporter: “The old man you see lying down there, does almost everything inside his small makeshift room, since bandits chased him out of his home. I don’t know his name or any of his family members, but I can tell you that all is not well with him. He spends most of his time in this uncomfortable environment.”
Government developed a document, Kaduna Social Protection Policy. It is designed to provide relief for the poor, the vulnerable and for individuals like the people in this camp. It says one per cent of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) (though government is saying one per cent of its annual budget) has been earmarked for the intervention.
The Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC), government’s social register, captured over two million poor and vulnerable individuals from over 500,000 households. Whether those displaced are captured in this register is not yet clear.
The Project Officer, TASTE Nigeria, Jonathan Makan, said:
“The projects are initiated here because of the influx of people who were displaced from their abode by the bandits. These facilities will help them prevent some of the health challenges that are already coming up within the communities.
“TASTE envisaged a poor community and the vulnerable being supported with water and sanitation, which we have been doing for 21 years now. The communities in need write to us as an organisation for us to reach out to them with the provision of boreholes and toilet facilities. For each of our project in these communities, one borehole goes with one toilet.”
District Head of Gwagwada who spoke through the Village Head, Luka Saure, appreciated the interventions, especially given the influx of displaced persons to the community, saying that this intervention has really gone a long way in easing the suffering of the IDPs.