Efforts at offering relief to victims of recent flooding across the country received a boost yesterday when prominent Nigerians and institutions made donations into a special Fund set up by the federal government, in the wake of the natural disaster.
Business mogul, Aliko Dangote, who is a co-Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (PCFRR) led the pack when he made a jumbo donation of $15.8 million (N2.5 billion) and another $950,000 (N150 million) for the running of the Secretariat of the PCFRR.
This huge philanthropic gesture did not escape the mention of President Goodluck Jonathan, as he described Dangote as a rare-breed that is always willing to give back to the society.
The President of Dangote Group who had earlier donated $1.27 million (N200 million) to Kogi state government during his visit to the flood ravaged areas in the state said it was the responsibility of all Nigerians to bring back smiles into the faces of the victims.
President Goodluck at a Fund Raising dinner held at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa had in his address of welcome lamented the unpleasant situation the victims have been subjected to which necessitated immediate intervention by the Federal Government with the release of $111 million (N17.6 billion).
While urging Nigerians to respond to the clarion call to help the flood victims said though the nation had witnessed several natural disasters in the past but none of them could compare with the recent ones across the states.
The President noted that the rampaging flood had rendered millions of citizens’ homeless, in addition to scores of lives lost to the flood while property and farmlands have been destroyed.
“Economic activities in the highly impacted area have also been severely affected. Although the economic losses are difficult to quantify at the moment, there are indications that they may be higher than our projections. We have witnessed several natural disasters in the past, none of them compares with what we currently experience, in scale and scope”, President Jonathan stated.
He said he had a first-hand experience of the scourge of the flood during my recent tour of some of the affected States and was shocked by the extent of devastation caused and the plight of the victims, who are exposed to the inclement consequences.
In making the huge donation, Dangote said his visit to Kogi state was an eye opener pointing out that “sometimes, we need to have the genuine experience of deprivation and poverty in order to appreciate the need to be our brother’s keeper. We should all be problem solvers and ready to make people happy when the opportunity comes. Nobody says ‘thank you’ for growing a profitable company, but people will say ‘thank you’ when you give.”
While urging other Nigerians to donate generously to the cause, Dangote said the soul of business is not making money but making people happy. “I believe quite strongly that people make the difference—and not the balance sheet. We impact positively on the lives of the people, not by how much money we have accumulated, but by how much goodwill we have accumulated.”
Assuring that every kobo donated would be put into judicious use, Dangote said the fund would be transparently managed and that as part of the transparency drive, the amount contributed or pledged, will be displayed on a website: www.nigeriafloodrelief.org specifically created to monitor the donations and the use they are being put into.
To boost the donations, Dangote challenged the telecom operators in the country to consider donating N1 for every SMS sent through their network, to the victims in order to help ameliorate their pitiable condition. Every contribution will go a long way.
He added that there was no other auspicious time to show that Nigerians have a milk of kindness in them other than now “when parts of our motherland are in distress, it is time for us to be ready to give something back. Whatever we give can never be too small or too big.”