The Federal Government has commenced the construction of cluster resettlement homes for Internally Displaced Persons in Benue.
Performing the ceremony at Mbagwen, Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, said President Bola Tinubu was committed to improving the lives of IDPs.
Edu said Tinubu had promised during his campaigns to return displaced persons in the country to their ancestral homes, and that the process had started with the commencement of the construction of resettlement homes.
The minister said it was the current administration’s hope that the IDPs would return to their homes, to enable them continue their businesses and farming, and help the government realise its agenda of ensuring food security.
“Benue people have cried enough, they have struggled enough, they have been in pain enough, President Tinubu says it is time for Benue people to rejoice.
“To all those who have come all the way from the IDPs camps to witness this event, this is the beginning of the journey for your return to your ancestral homes.
“President Tinubu has eight points agenda, the first agenda is Food Security and the people of Benue are key to achieving that.
“Benue is known as the food basket of the nation, when we talk about food security, the hope of the nation is on Benue, therefore, we cannot allow the state to go through pain and anguish,” she said.
Edu said the construction of cluster resettlement homes was the beginning of a renewed hope for Benue.
“President Tinubu does not want to keep IDP camps. He doesn’t want the people of Benue to be staying in shanties.
“He wants you to have a dignified house where you can call your home, where you can sleep in peace with your eyes closed, wake up and go to your farm,” the minister added.
According to her, the houses will be built in clusters through direct labour, adding that the locals in every community will be used during the project.
“The President is keeping to his promise; we have laid the foundation for the building of the renewed hope shelter for poor IDPs in Benue.
“This project will be completed within six months so that they can immediately return to their ancestral homes.
“Every cluster will have 20 houses; this will allow them to resettle in their various communities. We will buy the materials in Benue and the locals will build these houses themselves,’’ she said.
Edu said the project would be unique because it would be constructed by the locals, the Federal Government would provide whatever would be needed to ensure success of the project.
She further explained that the Federal Government would provide the funds and supervise, while the state government would closely monitor.
In his remarks, Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue, said the security situation in the state was beyond herders’ attacks, adding that the state was also facing banditry and kidnappings.
Alia said his administration had deployed an underground security architecture, which had resulted in the relative peace the state was currently enjoying.
He said the IDPs were tired of taking shelter in camps and were desperate to return to their ancestral homes.
“We are in touch not only with the security apparatus, but also with all the affected communities.
The governor therefore, appealed to the people to support the resettlement programme and key into the project.
He said his administration would do everything possible to support the resettlement programme to succeed.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Mr Aondowase Kunde, said the crisis had affected a total of eight local government areas.
Kunde listed the affected LGAs as Guma, Logo, Ukum, Kwande, Gwer West, Agatu, Makurdi and Katsina-Ala.
“The people were force to live their homes and vocation, particularly farming, to take refuge in 21 IDP camps.
“The Food Basket status of Benue has however, been threatened as many farmlands are now abandoned due to the continued stay of our people in IDP Camps,” he said.
Kunde however, said strong measures had been put in place to prevent and reduce vulnerability to future crises and disasters.
Also the member representing Makurdi LGA in the State House of Assembly, Mr Alfred Berger, said the suspected herders had killed more than 12,000 persons in Mbagwen alone, between 2010 and 2023.
Berger said that the last time he visited the community was in 2017, adding that herders have taken over the entire area.