Some business leaders in Nigeria on Thursday came together to launch a blueprint, first-ever joint humanitarian fund with the United Nations (UN), to address the humanitarian crisis in north-eastern part of the country.
TheNewsGuru (TNG) reports the UN Nigeria Humanitarian Fund – Private Sector Initiative (NHF-PSI), as it is known, seeks to raise awareness and support from the business community in Nigeria to play an important role in the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.
Officials of the UN present at the launch said the UN NHF, managed by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which has 17 donor countries that have raised 70 million dollars so far, became operational in May 2017.
The partnership with the Nigerian private sector would see companies in the country support the UN NHF, and join donor countries that have already donated to the Fund, in the new blueprint, the NHF-PSI.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the NHF-PSI was an exciting initiative that would yield results in helping the 1.8 million displaced persons in the north-east region.
Osinbajo represented by Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant on Sustainable Development Goals, noted that some companies were already providing humanitarian assistance in the region.
“This new initiative will further sharpen the efficiency of these supportive companies by giving them the opportunity to collaborate with the UN and also streamline their humanitarian efforts.
“About 80 per cent of the people who need our help are women and children who continue to suffer deprivation and hardship that you and I may never have to face.
“Therefore, I urge you all to work with this administration in the socio-economic rehabilitation of the region,” he said.
Mrs Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, said the launch was personal to her considering that she grew up in Maiduguri that is now affected by the crisis that had displaced millions and killed over 27,000 people in recent years.
“The creative and generous efforts was about leveraging innovative partnerships between the public and private sector to have real impact.
“Thanks to your vision and generosity, Nigerian business will be able to pool funds, resources and ideas to provide life-saving assistance to the population of North-East Nigeria.
“The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund has already allocated nearly 70 million dollars in the 18 months to meet the urgent, life-saving needs of thousands of Nigeria,” she said.
Mohammed said the fund would deal with the congestion in existing camps and treat hundreds of children with malnutrition.
“The fund also highlights the cross-cutting impact of humanitarian work in health by providing assistance to contain cholera outbreak in north-east considered to be the country’s worst outbreak in the last ten years.
“We at the United Nations are honoured to partner with you in saving lives and extending solutions and support to millions that are in need and to build on the progress made by the Government of Nigeria, by the international community, and by the Nigerian people themselves,” she said.
Mohammed urged businesses to imbibe sustainable business practices that allow initiatives like NHF-PSI to provide humanitarian support in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.
Edward Kallon, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, noted that by forging joint enterprise between deeply committed private, public and non-governmental actors, NHF-PSI presented a tremendous opportunity to raise the standard of humanitarian response in Nigeria and around the world.
“Although Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, over 7 million people in north-east Nigeria are in need of life-saving assistance.
“NHF-PSI is founded on the premise that Nigeria’s private sector not only cares profoundly for its nation’s most vulnerable, but also possesses the vision, resources and natural problem-solving ability to reduce it on an unprecedented scale if harnessed into collective action,” he said.
Also, Mr Jim Ovia, Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, said Nigeria with a population of over 200 million, should see the initiative as a wake-up call to support the fund with their widow’s mite.
“The 70 million dollars was not contributed by Nigerians, launching the NHF-PSI is for us to emulate what other countries have done to assist the humanitarian crisis in our country,” he said.
Ovia said the initiative was the first private sector collaboration with UN and urged other Nigerians to support and make the project sustainable.
The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, said Boko Haram had done a lot of damage to the state which would take years to rebuild and would cost about 300 million dollars.
Represented by Senator Alli Ndume, Shettima thanked the donors for their humanitarian efforts in the north-east, adding that it would help restore stability and peace to the region.
Members of the NHF-PSI steering group are Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Templars Ltd and amongst others.
NHF-PSI expects to raise over USD300 million for the initiative in the coming years.