..Psychiatrist calls for cautious integration
SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said the Federal Government would only continue negotiation with the Boko Haram insurgents if international agencies are involved.
Buhari also commended the role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the release of the 21 abducted Chibok schoolgirls, urging it to sustain humanitarian interest in Nigeria.
Meeting with Mr. Peter Maurer, ICRC President, at State House, Abuja, President Buhari said his administration was prepared to continue talks with the Boko Haram insurgent group, “as long as they agree to involve international agencies like ICRC.
“We’ve seen the result of recent talks, 21 of the Chibok girls are back,” the President said, referring to the role played by ICRC in providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the girls, who had spent over 900 days in the hands of their abductors.
President Buhari said Nigeria’s biggest problem was perhaps the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs), noting that there were over 2 million of them, “made up of over 60% women and children. About 60% of the children don’t know their parents, or where they come from. It is weighing heavily on government.”
On rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure, President Buhari said it was a priority of government, noting that the G7 had equally indicated support, which Nigeria heartily welcomed.
“We appreciate all your efforts. I am pleased you recognized that our military is cooperating with civil authorities, and respecting humanitarian issues. It is a difficult time for Nigeria. About 27 of our 36 states couldn’t pay salaries when we came last year, and we are still struggling with that. But we will get out of it,” the President said.
Maurer, the ICRC President, said their operation in the Lake Chad region is the second largest in the world, after Syria, adding that there are nutritional, health, water and sanitation issues in the North-east, in addition to rebuilding of infrastructure.
“We are ready to engage and play supportive role in responding to crisis in Nigeria. Security is a lot better than it was a year ago, but humanitarian problems are serious, and don’t disappear so quickly,” Maurer said.
The ICRC President also commended Nigeria for granting increased access to detainees, and exchanges with the Armed Forces.
He added: “Detention facilities have improved, there are fewer deaths, and things are better health-wise.”
Meanwhile, how to re-integrate the girls back into the society as well as protecting them from stigmatization and discrimination has engaged the minds of many Nigerians.
Some residents of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, spoke of what might likely be the thoughts of the girls upon their release.
They pointed out that after the euphoria of being set free, many of the girls might begin to wonder what would become of them and how society would view them now that they were back.
Consultant Psychiatrist at the University of Ibadan, Dr Jibril Abdumalik, called for caution in the manner in which the picture of the girls was spread over the media, saying such could further traumatize them.
Dr Abdumalik suggested that their rehabilitation should be in phases, and this should be done in another environment away from the Chibok community to prevent them from reliving the horror.
The consultant psychiatrist also urged members of the public and family members of victims to be receptive towards the girls, and guard against utterances that could remind them of their ordeal.
In the same vein, a Sociologist at the Lead City University, Dr. Dapo Adeboyejo, recommended that love, care and support should be extended to the girls at all times, as this would go a long way in re-integrating them back into the society.