JOS – 25 Feb. 2022: “I beg nations of the world not to fold their hands and watch the increasing number of displaced persons in Nigeria,” said 20year-old Miss Sibi Musa Rugu, the reigning beauty Queen of the National Association of Rigwe Students (NARS) in central Plateau State.
Rugu, herself a survivor of Islamic militant attacks is concerned more than 20,000 displaced children are unable to go to school in the State.
At a program to launch her “Education for IDPs” campaign in her former high school – Government Secondary School Meyango in the Bassa County of Plateau State on 20 July, Rugu said the consequence of not doing anything could affect the entire world.
“The world shall see the worst of a problem never seen before,” she said. The campaign aims to draw sponsorship for children displaced by attacks to enroll in school.
She recalled decades of armed attacks by Islamic extremists in her county which she described as “hell on earth”.
“In the year 2000, 35 people were killed in Irigwe land. That was when we [first] knew what is now called Fulani attacks in Irigwe [district],” she said.
She added: “By the end of 2021, 858 harmless civilians from the Rigwe tribe had been murdered. 298 people had sustained various degrees of injuries with some completely incapacitated.
“In that year, 29,000 Rigwe natives were displaced between August and December alone. Knowing that 65% of the total number of IDPs are children, my heart bleeds.”
Rugu appealed for public support as she shared sanitary pads to hundreds of schoolgirls.
Mr. James Zani, the Principal in charge of Junior students at GSS Meyango said at the event his school just reopened in June after several months of shutdown due to attacks.
“Even with the resumption, many students cannot afford to pay school fees because many have lost their parents and livelihoods,” he said.
The attacks in Plateau State are an act of terrorism, said Mr. Solomon Dalyop, the founder of Emancipation Center for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN) which tracks militant attacks in the country and advocates for victims.
“We all have to work together to safeguard ourselves,” he said as he gave a donation to support Miss Rugu’s campaign.
A representative of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), Mr. Lawrence Zongo also pledged to mobilize funding for the project.