In the outskirts of Benue lies Gbajimba Internal Displaced Person (IDP) Camp in Guma Local Government Area with hundreds of teenagers whose lives have been altered beyond their intuition.
Although Gbajimba IDP camp was created in 2018 by the Benue State government and is operated and managed by the State Emergency Authority (SEMA) headed by Emmanuel Shior, teenagers in the camps are out of school.
Recall that the primary fallout of the perennial conflicts between cattle herders and crop farmers in Benue State over the years is the increase of internally displaced persons in the state and its attendant effects on young children, especially the girl-child.
For 13-year-old Umege, life took a drastic turn after her hometown Tormatar, Gbajimba in Guma was invaded by headers on December 31, 2018.
“We were attacked on new year’s eve, in 2018 and since then I have been staying in Gbajimba IDP camp with my mother.
“It is a very traumatising experience; I lost my father and my elder brother during the crisis. I am left with my mother who is having issues with her leg because she was shot on her right leg and till now her leg is still bad.”
Explaining further, Msena said, “For four years, we have lived here and we haven’t been able to go back to our homes because we are scared.
“Those that made efforts to go back home failed. Some of our brothers who insisted on going back home were attacked and killed in their farmlands. The fear of going back to our various homes is still there.
“Even though the government and non-governmental organisations are trying to send in food items to us, it is still not enough for us. Most of us are not yet going to school again. Our education has been affected. As you can see, they just created a few classrooms for the younger ones so that they will be taught the basic things of education.
“Those of us who have passed the age of primary school are not in school. There is no means to further education and no one to sponsor us. Our parents are poor farmers and the crisis that is going on in our land, nowhere to get funds to fund our education. Those of us who are willing to go to school should be given the privilege to further our education.
“I am calling on the government to put in more effort to ensure that the crises come to an end so that we can go back to our normal lives and various activities.”
Despite the specific provisions of the Nigeria constitution, Section 15(1) of the act states, “Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and it shall be the duty of the government in Nigeria to provide such education”, many teenagers like Msena Umege in IDP camps are currently out of school with no hope of returning back to school except the government takes drastic steps to address the issue of insecurity in the state.