11th May, 2011
President Goodluck Jonathan has compensated the families of the slain 10 Youth Corps members with N5 million each. The president also asked the families of the deceased to forward the name of one unemployed sibling of the victims for immediate employment into the Federal Civil Service. The move is laudable but not enough.
Over 500 people were massacred in Northern Nigeria by bigoted rioters shortly after the presidential election on 16 April. Thousands of others lost their homes, shops, churches and their entire lifesavings to the violence. Many of the displaced victims are now homeless, jobless and with no means of survival. Many others are still traumatised by the gory images that followed the massacres. They are now living in fear and with no place to worship since their churches were also burnt to ashes.
Some of them, especially women, lost their breadwinners and will suffer for the rest of their lives to raise their fatherless children. They do not deserve to die in silence. A lot of them are in dire need of medical attention, especially psychological and psychiatric medical attention after the traumatic experience they have gone through.
While we cannot bring back the dead, we must not abandon those who came under attack for performing their civic responsibilities or for living in one part of the country.
According to Chapter 4, Section 41(1) of the Nigerian constitution, every citizen of Nigeria can live anywhere he or she wishes to. He cannot be discriminated against or come under attack for being a stranger.
Those who lost everything to the rioters, including family members, cannot be abandoned by the leaders they came out to elect. They must not be allowed to lose hope in their country.
All over the world, especially in more advanced countries, even victims of natural disasters are compensated. The government stands by those who come under natural disasters.
For instance, after violent storms claimed over 300 lives in the United States in April, the American government pledged to help the victims rebuild their lives.
It was the same government response in Japan after the quake and the tsunami killed over 20,000 people. The government has pledged to invest billions of dollars to rebuild the homes of the affected persons.
It was the same government response in Brazil when over 800 people were killed by the floods in January. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil first female president, pledged to build 8000 free homes for the victims of flooding and landslides.
If people can be compensated for natural disasters, they must be taken care of when faced with man-made heinous acts.
Speaking while meeting the families of the deceased in the Chambers of the Presidential Villa, President Jonathan said that the corps members who were massacred in the aftermath of the announcement of the outcome of the last presidential election, would not die in vain and vowed that those involved in their killing would be brought to book.
We believe that all those who died and relatives of those who were murdered and all other victims who incurred losses must be taken care of by the government.
The states where the killings and destruction occurred must be mandated to help these survivors get back to their feet; they must not die in silence in their own land. Jonathan must go beyond 10 Corps members and assist thousands of other victims of the post-election violence.