President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, to facilitate the immediate release of the N5 billion pledged by the Federal Government since August 2014 for the Victims Support Fund (VSF), the presidency announced Friday.
The fund was created to support victims of bomb attacks. President Buhari gave the directive after receiving a briefing from the VSF Presidential Committee headed by former defence minister, Theophilus Danjuma, at the Presidential Villa.
Mr. Danjuma told the president that out of the N55.92 billion pledged at the fund-raising dinner for the fund in August last year, N33.54 billion was still outstanding, including N5 Billion from the Federal Government.
He said the VSF currently has N23.33 billion in four bank accounts. Mr. Danjuma urged the president to use his office to persuade all organizations and individuals to honour their pledges to the Committee.
The directive came two days after PREMIUM TIMES reported how the funds had not been deployed to provide needed help to victims, nearly a year after. The committee had also told PREMIUM TIMES how several wealthy Nigerians who made pledges failed to redeem them, and how former President Jonathandirected that the funds should not be released for operations already handled by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
Mr. Danjuma told President Buhari that the former president gave approval for the funds to be incorporated into a Trust Fund, to “insulate it from political interference”.
President Buhari urged the Committee to ensure proper coordination with other government agencies providing support and assistance to victims of terrorism.
The president assured Mr. Danjuma and members of the VSF Committee that his administration was taking proactive steps to defeat terrorism in the country.
He said that despite the challenge of acquiring much needed strategic equipment and weapons to confront the terrorists, the Nigerian military has recently gained much ground in its effort to defeat and degrade Boko Haram.
He added that the full deployment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), under the auspices of member-states of Lake Chad Basin Commission, will further boost ongoing military operations against the insurgents.