Buhari Orders Release Of N5b To Boko Haram Victims
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered the immediate release of N5 billion to the Victims Support Fund (VSR) to enable it carry out its assignment of providing succour to the immediate families of those killed by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east, and other terrorist-related activities in other parts of the country.
The President’s directive followed a briefing by the Presidential Committee on Victims Support Fund led by the erstwhile Defence Minister, Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Most individuals, corporate organisations, including the federal government, who made pledges to the fund at its launch in July last year, are yet to redeem their pledges.
Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had on July 31, 2014 launched the VSF in the heat of the controversy generated by the abduction of the 276 female students of the Government Girl’s Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State in aid of the victims and immediate families of those who died as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Jonathan pledged N5 billion on behalf of the federal government, but Danjuma lamented that one year after, the federal government, some corporate organisations and individuals are yet to fulfil those pledges.
Altogether, N58.79 billion was realized at a fund-raising dinner which was held at the Old Banquet Hall, State House, with N8.79 billion in excess of the initial N50 billion target.
Some of the biggest donors included Theophilus Danjuma, $10 million; Aliko Dangote, N1 billion; Jim Ovia, N1 billion; Tony Elumelu, N2.5 billion; Mike Adenuga, N1 billion; Wale Tinubu, N1 billion; Arthur Eze, $5 million; Mohammed Ndimi, $5 million; Kabiru Rabiu, N500 million; Dahiru Mangal N500 million; and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, N500 million.
Others included a group of oil sector players, N17 billion; bankers, N15 billion; telecom sector players N1 billion; state governors, N3.7 billion; and ministers, N50 million.
But concerned about the report of the federal government’s non fulfilment of its pledge, the President directed the Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, to facilitate the immediate release of the N5 billion pledged by the Federal Government since August 2014 last year.
Danjuma had told the President that out of the N55.92 billion pledged at the fund-raising dinner for the fund in August last year, N33.54 Billion was still outstanding, including N5 billion from the Federal Government. He said that the VSF currently has N23.33billion in four bank accounts and that the Committee received approval from the immediate past administration to incorporate the fund into a Trust Fund, to “insulate it from political interference”.
Danjuma had urged the President to use his good offices to persuade all organizations and individuals to honour their pledges to the Committee. “We will continue to ask people who pledged to honour their pledges. You the press should assist us in raising the fund, N20 billion is a drop in the ocean compared to the needs and if really the war stops tomorrow, already those displaced are really looking for support to go back to their homes and this N20 billion is nothing,” he said.
Buhari urged the Committee to ensure proper coordination with other government agencies providing support and assistance to victims of terrorism. The President assured Danjuma and members of the VSF Committee that his administration was taking proactive steps to defeat terrorism in the country.
He said despite the challenge of acquiring the much needed strategic equipment and weapons to confront the terrorists, the Nigerian military has recently gained a lot of ground in its effort to defeat Boko Haram.
He added that the full deployment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), under the auspices of member-states of Lake Chad Basin Commission, would further boost ongoing military operations against the insurgents.