Otedola redefines humanitarianism

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*Wanted: More Care, more money to tackle Nigeria’s humanitarian burden

By Eric Ojo

The need to galvanize support and increase humanitarian response
to Nigerians affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East region of
the country was re-ignited at the inauguration of Cuppy Foundation, a
philanthropic project of Florence Otedola, popularly known as DJ Cuppy, the
daughter of billionaire business mogul and philanthropist, Mr. Femi Otedola.

Dubbed: “DJ
Cuppy Foundation Gold Gala”, the event held in Abuja was aimed at supporting
the works of “Save the Children” organization in Nigeria, particularly in the
area of tackling malnutrition in the Northeast region. The young
philanthropist, who is also an ambassador of the Save the Children UK, a
non-governmental organization, said the foundation,  launched in August 2018, was inspired by a
trip she made to Maiduguri, Borno State, to appreciate the plight of fellow
citizens herded in Internally Displaced Persons’ camps.

The visit,
according to her was a life-changing moment, as it pointed to the fact that
there is more to be done collectively to support the goals in making the life
of every Nigerian count. In addition, Miss Otedola said she started the
foundation as a way of giving back to the less fortunate. She appealed to
good-hearted Nigerians to join the fight and save the children, especially in
war-torn North Eastern part of the country.

Vice
President, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo, urged the guests to refocus their minds on
caring for the poor and malnourished especially in Nigeria. Osinbajo said the
present administration acknowledges the need to  support the most vulnerable in the society,
adding that in 2015, President Mohammadu Buhari proposed the largest social
investment programme in Africa, amounting to about N500 billion annually. 
He said Nigeria is far from where it ought to be in addressing social problems.
“It is obvious that government cannot do it alone. So, we don’t (all) need to
be billionaires to do our part. It is time for every one of us to decide to
make a difference to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are given a decent
life”, he advised.

Africa’s
richest man and President of Dangote Group, Alhaji  Aliko Dangote, donated
N100 million in support of Cuppy Foundation. Dangote said the country needs
more Nigerians with a big heart to give back the needy, adding that government
should not be allowed to do it alone. He wondered why people find it so
difficult to give out money to the needy, stressing that the more one gives the
more God blesses the giver. He however congratulated Miss Otedola for having a
big heart to visit those children in Borno and spending about four days with
them.

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The
highlight of the DJ Cuppy Foundation Gold Gala, was the ground-breaking
donation of N5 billion by Mr. Otedola, father of the young philanthropist.
While making the donation on behalf of her father, Tolani Otedola said: “My
father, Mr. Femi Otedola, has been at the forefront of supporting worthy cause.
It is in this spirit that he will be donating the sum of N5 billion to the
children of Borno, Adamawa and Katsina through Save the Children”.  The
donation was greeted by a loud ovation at the Congress Hall, Transcorp Hilton
Hotel, Abuja, as guests appreciated Otedola. Osinbajo said the gesture made a
recored as the largest donation to charity in Nigeria.

Otedola’s N5 billion donation to the cause is unarguably
instructive and timely. It further demonstrates the need to support those in
need, particular in the North East where more than 7.1 million people are in
need across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe  states alone with 6.2 million people targeted
for humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, OCHA.  Moreover, 823,000 people
are estimated to be in areas that are inaccessible to international
humanitarian organization. Amongst children from hard-to-reach areas within the
three states, over one million children aged six to 59 months are acutely
malnourished, 367,000 with Severe Acute Malnutrition and  727,000 with Moderate
Acute Malnutrition.

Worse still, in the three states, reports indicate, some 230,000
pregnant and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished, placing their lives
and those of the unborn and breastfeeding children at risk. Similarly, some 2.7
million people are projected to be food insecure during the 2019 lean season
and could face crisis or emergency situation. In addition, education also poses
a huge challenge with 800,000 children out of school in the three states, with
50 percent girls. Continuous displacements of children strain existing schools
and cannot absorb the new arrivals. These figures are snippets of the challenge
currently manifesting in Northeast and it should be a cause for worry to all
well-meaning Nigerians.

While lending her voice this clarion call, Mrs Ibukun Awosika,
Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, said every Nigerian should empathise
and be part of the solution to humanitarian challenge in the North East. She
spoke as head of a delegation of representatives of companies and banks that
are part of the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund, NHF, a private sector initiative,
on a visit to two camps for the internally displaced people in Maiduguri.  “These are our people, this is our country,
and this is our problem. As much as we are getting help from the rest of the
world, we must be able to find solutions for our own people. As a Nigerian, the
people I met here today are our brothers, our sisters and our children and I
don’t wish to see any single one of them living in the condition we saw here
today,” said Awosika.

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During the visit, the delegation met and interacted with displaced
men, women and children who are bearing the brunt of the ten-year conflict in
that region.

The NHF is an innovative platform aimed at fostering effective
collaboration between the UN, the Government of Nigeria and leading Nigerian
companies. Managed by OCHA on behalf of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, the
initiative will see Nigerian companies join donor countries in pooling
donations and resources together. Besides, the NHF aims to create a more
collaborative and effective response by bringing awareness to the ongoing
humanitarian crisis, which is one of the most severe in the world and
predominantly affecting women and children.

So far, with the generous support of 17 donor countries, the Fund
has raised $90 million in contributions and pledges. Moreover, it aspires to
raise additional $80 million from the private sector. 

While commending the effort of the NHF, the UN Humanitarian
Coordinator for Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said: “We are here to see how we can
work with them to mobilize action and resources to meet the needs of the
displaced people in North East Nigeria.” Kallon’s position aptly sums up what
is required to address the humanitarian challenge in Nigeria (MOBILIZING ACTION
AND RESOURES). In other words, more care and more funds are needed to tackle
the problem.