Redeeming Donations To Boko Haram’s Victims
WITH more than a million victims of Boko Haram’s insurgency in camps and with diverse needs, the N5 billion President Muhammadu Buhari ordered to be released to them may not be much. But it is a source of hope as the action demonstrates that the government and indeed the entire country have not forgotten these victims of mindless brutality by terrorists.
The order for the release followed a briefing by the Presidential Committee on Victims Support Fund led by Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma Yakubu (rtd) during the group’s visit to Buhari. At the launch of the fund last year after the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, the Federal Government pledged N5 billion in aid of the victims and the immediate families of those who died as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency. But the government has only just given an order for the release of the amount. This, it must be said, is coming too late and the plight of the victims does not permit a leisurely response. It is disheartening that the government has allowed bureaucratic hurdles to delay the release of the fund. But now that the order has been given, the government should make sure it is implemented immediately.
With the Muhammadu Buhari-led government setting the pace, it is expected that other bodies and individuals who also pledged money to the exercise would redeem their pledges now. At the launch of the fund, N58.79 billion was pledged, above the targeted amount of N50 billion. It is a good development that the committee already has N23.33 billion in four bank accounts and that it received approval from the immediate past administration to incorporate the monies into a trust fund to insulate it from political interference. But those who made promises of donating money should make good their words as the victims need succour now.
Having begun the process of redeeming its pledge, the government should consider the necessary measures to ensure that the money and other donations are well utilised. This is to avoid a situation in which the money would go into the pockets of some unscrupulous persons. There must be accountability and transparency in the management of the funds. In this regard, the government must first of all determine the areas where the intervention would make the most impact on the lives of the victims. Would the money be used to train the young victims in schools? Would it be used to clothe and feed them? Or would it be used to re-build their homes that have been ravaged by the crisis? The urgency of the need to help is seen in the plight of the rescued victims who are in internal refugee camps. The camps are unlivable as they lack adequate facilities. Worse still, while some of the female victims have been sexually abused, others have been lost to human traffickers who stalk the camps for vulnerable young girls desperate for a life with meaning. These victims urgently need to be rehabilitated with the help of the government, organisations and individuals.
To ensure transparency in the management of the funds, the government must publish the names of all the beneficiaries. The need for accountability is validated by the fact that there are some other people or organisations that may want to donate but are dithering because they are not sure if their money would not be misappropriated. Since so much amount of money is required to meet the needs of the victims, individuals and companies, which did not pledge to donate earlier can do so now and honour such pledges.
As it intensifies measures to redeem donations to the victims who have been rescued, the Federal Government should step up efforts to bring home those still in captivity. It should not relent in the fight that has displaced the insurgents from their strongholds. Besides, the government and all Nigerians need to demonstrate to those that have been rescued. That they indeed feel their pain. This may not automatically erase the physical and psychological scars on them by the Boko Haram terrorists. But it would certainly go a long way in assuaging the searing memory of their ghastly encounters.
As Nigeria wipes the terrorists from its shores and cares for the victims of the onslaught, healing will truly begin.