BY USMAN MOHAMMED, MARCH 01, 2022 | 05:20 PM
Yushau Umar is 22 and a petty trader, but he is the breadwinner in a family of six. His parent, aged 64 and 48, are still alive, and that is that: they are IDPs (short for internally displaced persons).
When faced with realities of hunger, they say, man’s inventiveness reveals itself. It was true of Mr. Umar, even though his is no invention.
In his case, it is what you call resilience, refusing to give up. With displacement from Doron Baga, a major fishing town in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno, most of the people lost their entire source of livelihood, which is largely across the fishing value chain or farming.
In his case, he had only between fleeing his hometown or joining the terrorists group to choose, when they took over control of the town twice, in 2015 and 2018. But there was a third option, which was losing his life, if he chooses neither of the two.
He is now giving thanks to God, for his choice and another opportunity to start life all over again. After God, he must thank his age, as that leaves more doors of opportunities open for him.
If he were to be his father’s age, he may probably have been subject to a government’s and donor’s support.
Seated atop his freezer, which is what he uses to refrigerate water at his provisions’ shop inside a temporary camp in Maiduguri, he proudly told YERWA EXPRESS NEWS that ‘he refuses to be broken.’
His new business now serves the whole Doron Baga IDP Camp, with everyday items—out of which, he makes his money.
The story of his displacement
While he is doing well now, the story of how he was forced to leave his hometown, the place of his birth and his most primary sentiment, is still heartrending.
It includes many miles of travels by foot, unceremonious stopovers and many more.
One can do anything to save oneself from death; after all, everything lost in Naira and kobo can be replaced! Umar’s story epitomizes that, far more emphatically than anything else.
Kangallan it was where he first fled to, and by foot, when Doron Baga fell into Boko Haram’s control. That was a journey of many miles, even though YERWA EXPRESS NEWS cannot immediately establish the distance between the two places.
It is a border town between Nigeria and Chad, where Mr. Umar took shelter in a camp, Darussalam.
The condition in the camp was strict, which a person like Umar could not put up with. Movements were monitored. One is not allowed to go in or out of the camp. Other things. He then sneaked out!
He found his way into Maiduguri, relying on the news that most of the IDPs were fleeing into the city, which is Borno’s state capital.
‘In Maiduguri, I joined my family at Doron Baga Internally Displaced Camp, where they are taking refuge with my mother and the rest of my family members,’ he said.
The condition of the camp, where food are rationed by government and donor agencies, is not, it seemed, suitable for him too.
As such, he had to look for a way in which he could fend for himself and his family.
What better business opportunity does he have in a hot sub-Saharan community, like Maiduguri, other than the sale of cold water, he may have thought; for, that was exactly what he had started.
From sale of water, he added a few more everyday essentials.
Soon, his place, a ten-by-by feet space made of zinc, became a go-to shop, for all basic household goods. ‘I give glory to God for everything and for saving me from the hands of Boko Haram.’
He said this while narrating how they escaped persecution by the Boko Haram.
The terrorists’ attack was in 2015. Amnesty International described the attack as one of the most destructive.
It said apart from people killed, houses, clinics, schools and businesses were also destroyed—such that decent living in the town was near impossible.
Doron Baga has one of the major sources of fish in the North East of Nigeria and Lake Chad Region.
‘Boko Haram started with something like recruitment. They invited some of my friends to join their work but they refused to join them because they were having their business and it was very dangerous.
‘I was with my friends in my shop on Friday, then we started hearing bomb explosions everywhere. We heard that the soldiers camp was under attack.
‘When the situation got worse; the soldiers started running; we also decided to flee because their target was youths. We met at Anguwan Police Station and chose to flee by a riverside because it was the only way out of our community,’ he added.
He explained that on their way out of the community, ‘death bodies littered everywhere, we started counting, at some point we lost the count.’
‘We reached a point where we have to cross a river. We spent three days before crossing it,’ he painfully remembered.
They ate dried fish and water to survive. They trekked from bush to bush, day and night without resting.
‘We finally reached Kangallan, a border town between Nigeria and Chad.
‘We were received and registered as internally displaced persons in Darussalam Camp by its official,’ he said.
It was from Darussalam Camp that Umar came to Nigeria to meet his parent.
‘At least, I am happy that I am now doing my business and not a Boko Haram member,’ Umar stated, while rejoicing.
Borno State Government in collaboration with federal government have commenced relocation of IDPs to their communities where relative peace has been achieved.
Thousands of the IDPs have been returned.
In Kukawa, the government has renovated over 200 houses earlier destroyed by the terrorists in preparation to resettling the remaining IDPs.
He said he will also be happy to return to his ancestral home, if government can guarantee his safety.
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04 August 2023