Alarming news from the country’s theatre of terrorism further raised the alarm about the dimensions of torment triggered by the agents of
The United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that nearly 250,000 children were suffering from “severe acute malnutrition” in Borno State as a result of Boko
Haram’s terroristic activities.
UNICEF Nigeria representative Jean Gough was quoted as
saying: “We estimate that there will be almost a quarter of a
million children under five suffering from severe acute
malnutrition in Borno this year.
Unless we reach these children with treatment, one in five of them will die. We cannot allow that to happen.” The agency
put the required intervention funds at $204 million.
It is appropriate that the Federal Government has
declared a nutrition emergency in Borno State following an
emergency meeting with the Borno State government on the malnutrition crisis.
Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewale
said: “We are declaring a nutritional emergency in Borno. We try to put a rapid
response team in place following Mr. President’s directive.
We had an emergency meeting with the Borno State emergency response team, because more
children might die if we don’t do something quickly.”
The question is: How quickly can the Federal Government do something? According to acting UN Humanitarian
Coordinator for Nigeria, Munir
Safieldin, “While the Nigeria Government and humanitarian
organisations have stepped up relief assistance, the situation in these areas requires a much faster and wider response.”
The conflict in the country’s north-eastern region is said to have displaced 2.4 million people and has stretched food
insecurity and malnutrition to
Over half a million people require
immediate food assistance, and the majority of them are
either displaced by the conflict or members of the
communities hosting the displaced.
It is expected that by October, the number of those needing
assistance will increase. There is no doubt that additional
donor funding will be needed for continued humanitarian
response in the region.
This is why the example of Aliko Dangote deserves
emulation. When on May 9 the President of Dangote Group
made a donation of N2 billion to internally displaced persons (IDPs), he also made a powerful statement by his
Apart from being the
single largest donation by an
individual, what Dangote gave
reflected his appreciation of
the enormity of the
humanitarian crisis caused by terrorism.
It was a humanitarian gesture
that helped to highlight the needs of the people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State as well as the need to help them.
It was particularly remarkable because the support came
from private pockets and not from the public purse.
This exemplary humanitarian
response was reinforced by
Dangote’s presence. It was a demonstration of empathy that
communicated the humanity of Nigeria’s and Africa’s richest
He was touring IDP
camps in Dalori and Bakassi in Maiduguri, the Borno State
capital, when he announced his relief package which he
said would be delivered through the Dangote Foundation.
Dangote said: “This is not the first time I am coming here
and it will not be the last. So far, we have expended about
N1.2 billion in efforts to alleviate the suffering of IDPs
across Borno, Adamawa and
The first major
challenge is the physiological needs of these people, and
food, nutrition rank right on top of that ladder. So we will
first make serious effort to ensure that hunger is liminated from the IDP camps
and thereafter, we will begin have make effort to create jobs
and boost entrepreneurship.”
This is a welcome expression of Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR), and it should be emulated by the
country’s big private-sector players.
should galvanise others into action, especially considering
the picture of inaction painted
by no less a person than the Chairman of Northern Traditional Rulers Council and
Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad
Abubakar III, who had observed that funds raised for
the sake of the IDP’s had not reached them.
At the opening of the Council’s second General Assembly in
Kaduna in November last year, the Sultan said: “When we go
into closed session, we will discuss that thorny issue of
displaced persons, mostly in the Northeast. It is a very sad situation; people are suffering.
Billions and billions of naira to IDPs in Abuja but we are yet to receive the items.
We however want to appeal that if some
people want to help, they should come through the IDPs
camp so we can get the assistance directly. ”
Of course, it is easy to express concern about the plight of the IDPs who are products of acts
of terrorism by the Islamist rerror group Boko Haram, which has tormented the
country since 2009.