It’s been six years since the Jos crisis that claimed the left arm of Moses Gwom, a teacher and father of eight from Riyoun Local government Area of Plateau State. Since then, life has never been the same for neither him nor his family, for which he is the bread winner. So how has he survived these horrid periods? He shared his sad life-transforming experience with Michael Oche and Kehinde Ajobiwe
At a point when a lesses man could have contemplated suicide, Gwom has ensured the opposite prevailed in what he describes as the most difficult period of his life. He has been a teacher for 30 years and was the bread winner for his family.
According to friends, Gwom was hard working and was full of ambition, especially for his children
But all that ambition and hope for better life for his children was truncated when armed men invaded his home one night.
He says, “after about six years, that experience still remains fresh in my mind. It’s just like yesterday.” By the time the attackers left, his left arm has been severed and his house burnt to the ground. Life couldn’t be more cruel.
Since then, surviving had been tough for Moses Gwom. Though he has survived two attacks on him but he is no longer the man he used to be. The man who used to be full of life now looks into the future with little hope and his little children could hardly fathom what had gone wrong.
Gwom is one among thousands of those who never got their lives back after several years of the communal and religious crisis that rocked many parts of Nigeria, especially the northern part of the country
He narrates his bitter experience in the hands of men who attacked his village: “They attacked my house in 2001. In 2006 again, they invaded my home, burnt down my house and left me almost dead. Although I was rushed to the hospital where I was treated, I lost my left arm to the attack”.
Despite the hype about compensation that followed the attack, Gwom said he never received any government compensation.
He said, “The government only took care of my hospital bills, but I am yet to receive any compensation. Although they are talking about compensating us, we don’t know how long it will take them to do that”.
While he awaits the compensation, his family has had to suffer since he was the bread winner. Today, from being a housewife, his wife has been forced to engage herself in menial jobs to feed the family. However, following the fresh crisis that has engulfed Jos, surviving has become twice as difficult.
He continued, “I have been teaching for almost 30 years. Since I lost my arm, things have not been easy for me, but my wife has been of great assistance to me in doing most of the things I used to do with my both hands and the grace of God has been pulling me through”.
Recently, he was one of the 200 amputees who benefitted from the charity work of an organisation that donated over 200 artificial limbs. He said, “I am happy God has blessed me, I have a hand offered to me by the government. I am responding to God’s favour and love”.
Gwom now looks to the future with much hope. The artificial arm may be a turning point for him. But will his life never return to what it used to be? But Gwom will be quick to respond: “I always believe in what God can do. I have always put my trust in him”.
However, speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY on the issue of compensation for victims of such attacks, the Chief Press Secretary to the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Yushau Shaib, said government is doing its best to ensure victims of such attacks are made comfortable, but stressed it will be difficult for government to compensate all victims of such crises
He said that NEMA does not only provide relief materials to crises displaced victims, but according to its mandate, it mobilises other relevant agencies of government for various operations where there is an emergency.
According to him, “Sometimes an incident may happen whereby there is not enough equipment to be used to handle such challenges.
So in a situation like that, we either get across to relevant agencies that have such resources or go to the private sector like what happened during the recent plane crash in Lagos, Julius Berger came in and Airtel, through what we call their corporate social responsibilities. We have also intensified our campaign on disaster prevention”.
Shuaib also stated that he is not aware of any issue of compensation, adding that, the relief materials NEMA provide are just palliative measures, and not complete compensation, because it is not possible to compensate someone who lost a loved one in a crisis or disaster.
He said, “There are a lot of stakeholders like some states, local governments and then some agencies, even some private companies you can rely on to get compensation.
When you take the example of insurance coverage, like we always advise the market owners to always have insurance coverage so that in the case of fire outbreak, they can always get their refund through their insurance companies”.
“Like in the case of Dana Airline, the federal government is not compensating anybody, but the Airline has taken the burden to ensure they are going to pay either by instalment or in full, but there is a programme/mechanism on ground on how such plight of victims could be addressed monetarily at least for them to cover for their losses”, he added.