I’ll Lead Nigeria To Defeat Boko Haram – Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that he was overwhelmed by the manner Nigerians responded to his appeal to contribute to the Boko Haram Victims’ Support Fund, saying the federal government’s initial target of N50billion had been exceeded.
He said a total sum of N58.790billion was realised for the Support Fund at a fund-raising dinner held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa on Thursday night.
Jonathan also vowed that he would personally provide the required leadership to Nigerians to defeat insurgency in the country.
The highest donors included the federal government (N20 billion), key players in the oil sector (N17 billion), the banking sector operatives (N15 billion), T.Y. Danjuma (N1.6billion), and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Jim Ovia, Wale Tinubu, Mike Adenuga, N1billion each. All states of the federation and the FCT gave N3.7billion; Arthur Eze and Mohammed Indimi, N800million each; Mrs Folorunsho Alakijia, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, Abdul Samad Rabiu, N500million each.
Mr Tony Elumelu, CON, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and chairman of Heirs Holdings, committed N2.5billion towards revitalizing distressed Nigerian communities affected by terror activities.
According to Jonathan, this is a clear indication that Nigerians are in support of the federal government’s counter-terrorism strategies, even as he expressed immense appreciation over what he described as the kindness of all persons who responded enthusiastically to his appeal for collective action by contributing generously to the fund.
In a statement issued by his special adviser on media and publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the president said he was overwhelmed by the expression of support, cooperation and solidarity by Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from all walks of life. He added that it showed that the public was genuinely concerned about the threat of terrorism “to our common humanity and stands ready to support worthy causes and pro-people policies”.
The president also commended the chairman of the Terror Victims’ Support Foundation, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), and members of the Foundation for accepting to serve the nation in this regard.
Abati said, “He is confident and convinced that the Foundation will make judicious and transparent use of the funds in order to ameliorate the negative impact of terrorism in the affected areas.”
During the fundraising on July 31, the highest donation was N10 billion and the lowest individual contribution was N5, 000.
At the fundraising dinner, Elumelu thanked the president for taking the initiative to bring the public and private sectors together to address the problem.
Of the N2.5 billion that was committed by Elumelu, N1billion was immediately contributed to the Victims’ Relief Fund, while the additional N1.5 billion will go towards establishing and endowing a Nigeria Opportunity and Empowerment Fund over the next four years.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation, which noted it will manage the endowment fund to global and professional standards, said the funds will be used to make investments and grants that create opportunities and empower the people in communities around Nigeria that have been ravaged by conflict or where fundamental issues of inclusion have to be addressed such as in the Niger Delta region.
Jonathan vowed that he would provide the required leadership to end insurgency in Nigeria, even as he said he never imagined that Nigerians could make themselves available to be used as suicide bombers.
Noting that the setting up of the support fund was not an admission that terrorism had come to stay in the country, he said: “The fact that we are setting up a victims’ support fund does not mean we have accepted that terrorism is here to stay. No! Never! Rather, this is just one of the short-term measures in our overall strategy against the enemies of peace and progress.”
The president stated vehemently that, rather than destroy the spirit and essence of the nation, the terrorists have succeeded in uniting and making Nigerians see that they are a common threat to all. “By bombing mosques and churches, they have shown to us that they are enemies to all. By killing Muslims and Christians, they have demonstrated to every Nigerian that their evil agenda does not discriminate. Unintentionally, they are motivating millions of Nigerians to see them as common enemies whose only purpose is to steal, to kill and to destroy.”
Gen. Danjuma said the fund had been established as a full-fledged company, adding that naira and foreign currency accounts had been set up to receive donations from around the world.
He commended Jonathan for his wisdom in setting up the fund and his policy of non-interference in its operation, saying that the committee would jealously guard its independence.
“All too often, the victims of terror are soon forgotten. The majority are the soft targets the terrorists prefer but unable to fend for themselves. The funds being collected are not for combating terror or fighting terrorist organizations but for supporting victims of terrorist attacks,” the former defence minister said.
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