The Chairman of the Victims Support Fund, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), on Wednesday said members of the committee would not visit Sambisa Forest believed to be one of the strongholds of the Boko Haram sect except President Goodluck Jonathan was ready to take the lead.
He spoke at the Presidential Villa Abuja, during the inauguration of the committee by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Danjuma, a former Minister of Defence, who responded to an earlier speech where the President tasked members of the committee to be ready to visit all parts of the country including the dreaded forest said..
“Mr. President, we won’t go to Sambisa Forest. As the Commander-in-Chief, you should take the lead and we will follow,” he said amidst laughter from those who attended the inauguration.
Danjuma also shocked those in attendance when he told the President that the insurgents, who were wreaking havoc in parts of the country were having the upper hand.
Find below remarks and areas of coverage for the committee read by President Jonathan during the inauguration..
Remarks by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR At the Inauguration of the Victims Support Fund Committee State House – Abuja Wednessday 16th July, 2014
1. I welcome you all to this very important event, the inauguration of the Victims Support Fund Committee.
2. Our gathering here today is to kick-start the process of providing succour to our people who have been directly affected one way or the other by acts of terrorism in the country. This is not the kind of events we would normally pray for.
3. As a developing nation with lofty dreams, I would rather be here inaugurating a committee on development initiatives. But this is the unfortunate situation where we have found ourselves because of the lawless acts of a few misguided individuals who are shedding the blood of innocent people in our Nation.
4. It is very necessary for us to refresh our memory before we proceed. Nigeria has not always been like this. In the past, it is true, we had communal and sectarian clashes. There is no human society that has been insulated from conflicts. But as a people created by God, we have managed to live within the realities of our challenges and have worked hard to strengthen the bond of our togetherness.
5. Even when we quarrel, we very quickly made up and largely lived peacefully together. At no time did we employ terrorism to settle our differences. But our innocence was defiled on December 25, 2009, when a 23-year-old Nigerian attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, on his way from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, United States.
6. Although his plan failed and the lives of 289 passengers were saved, it was one incident that finally confirmed that a few Nigerians had finally embraced terrorism as a way of life. Now we could no longer deny that terror has arrived our country with its ugly claws deployed!
7. The year 2009 appears to be a tragic turning point. Boko Haram, an assemblage of heartless individuals, took it upon itself to bring evil upon our country. They have in their mission, turned women to widows and reduced children to orphans.
8. They have killed and maimed and struck fear into law-abiding citizens. They have destroyed villages, attacked property and terminated people’s livelihoods without a care in the world. They have engaged our security agencies in a meaningless warfare that has wasted unimaginable human and material resources.
9. The reality today is that, we are confronted with individuals whose minds have been so twisted and tutored to believe they are doing God a service.
10. Let me reiterate clearly that evil will never prevail over good. The blood that is being wasted everyday by those who take advantage of the vulnerability of our people to spread extremist doctrines and recruit them for murderous errands are enemies of humanity. We will never waste any effort in bringing the individuals responsible for crimes against humanity to justice.
11. For those who take pleasure in seeing innocent human beings in pains, to see limbs being shattered and blood flowing in all direction after terror attacks, we say, you shall have no hiding place. Nigerians will expose you. The people of conscience around the world have rejected you.
12. We appreciate the support we are getting from foreign countries and the co-operation we are getting from our neighbours. This has given us more fillip and we are confident that the days of Boko Haram are numbered. It is now just a matter of time.
13. Our war against terrorism is gathering momentum. When you read about bombing incidents in the mass media, they may come across to those not directly affected as mere statistics. As the old proverb says, when you carry another man’s coffin, it looks like an ordinary log of wood.
14. But to us, fathers and mothers, and the families of the victims, they are not just numbers. They are human beings – sons and daughters, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and indeed, fathers and mothers! They are Nigerians!! They are individuals with dreams and aspirations, noble Nigerians who love their country.
15. I call on all Nigerians to stand together in support of our security agencies against terrorism. They are working night and day under difficult circumstances. It is unfortunate that when our security personnel prevent 1000 attacks, it is the one attack that succeeds that makes headline news and tends to portray our security agencies as not doing enough. It is part of the realities we have to deal with. We owe Nigerians nothing but victory over terror. The life of every Nigerian is precious and we will continue to work round the clock to put an end to this insurgency.
16. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, for those who have been victims, they need comfort. They need succour. We cannot replace the life of a child that has been snuffed out. We cannot replace the lives of men and women who have been killed. We cannot return broken limbs to their original state. We cannot take away the trauma that people have been put through.
17. Their memories are scarred, some for the rest of their lives, over what they knew nothing about. The best we can do in this circumstance is to offer them a shoulder to lean on and to stretch out our hands of fellowship to them and tell them we feel their pains and share in their sorrow.
18. The Victim Support Fund Committee is part of our on-going efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the menace. This Government is determined to resolve this crisis.
19. The menace of terrorism has emerged as one of the most complex and challenging problems confronting governments in different parts of the world. Terrorists aim to cause social dislocation, spread fear and panic among the populace and disrupt government activities. But they never win. They have not won in the Middle East, in the USA, in China, in Columbia, in Italy, in the United Kingdom, in Kenya, etc. And they will not win in Nigeria. And, with the support of all Nigerians, we would ensure they do not win in Nigeria. Good must prevail over evil.
20. That is why we have put together eminent Nigerians led by the respected statesman and hero, General Yakubu Danjuma, who will be assisted by Fola Adeola, a tested technocrat. They will be supported by public-spirited international agencies and other distinguished Nigerians whose names have been earlier announced. We will ensure that those who have suffered unjustly in the hands of terrorists can in our little way be consoled.
21. Let me say a few words about these distinguished Nigerians that have accepted to serve our nation in this committee. From their profile, they are men and women of outstanding pedigree. That they agree to serve, is a great sacrifice. These distinguished patriots are volunteering their time and energy to give a helping hand to the needy. Valuable time that they should have spent in growing their businesses, loving their families and taking time in leisure. They have accepted to dedicate time and energy to our great country Nigeria.
22. We are most grateful.
23. The determination of government to help bind the wounds and apply soothing balm to the pain on innocent victims remains un-wavered. We want to give them the milk of human kindness, to let them know that this world is not just about evil people.
24. Mr Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the human heart is eternally caring and generous. The world we live in is hungry to do good. I want to charge the committee to go out there and knock on the doors of all hearts and institutions in a determined and focussed way. I am confident you will raise the required resources to help rebuild some of our broken existence.
25. There are good people who do not share the dangerous doctrine they are propagating. Those who have made it their priority to kill and maim think they can break our spirit. We will rise from this triumphantly and we shall shame evil.
26. We have set up this committee to provide a framework through which all persons and institutions who wish to help mitigate the pains our country men and women are going through for no fault of theirs.
27. The Victims Support Fund Committee will help to mobilise collective efforts and resources in support for the victims. I appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians and non-Nigerians, individuals and cooperate bodies, to give generously to this Fund. The victims need our sympathy and empathy. We have to show that we care and can never give way or give in to agents of evil.
28. We will continue to do whatever we can to support our people in need. But the task is enormous. It is not a responsibility government can shoulder alone. Let me again thank all Nigerians, both at home and the diaspora, and also the international community for their support for our country at this trying period.
29. Even in moments of deep despair, their supports have inspired hope in us that very soon, this too shall pass. Nigeria is a community of neighbours, kinsmen and friends. We have always looked out for each other. The entire Nigeria nation is one family.
30. I, therefore, call on all Nigerians – students, youths, boys, girls, men and women – to pause today and spare a thought for the victims; and support them. This is not a task for the rich alone. Every widow’s mite will count, and will be appreciated. I urge Nigerians to donate generously even through your GSM phones.
31. Mr Chairman, the committee’s terms of reference are as follows:
a. To identify sources and ways of raising sustainable funding to support victims of terror activities;
b. To develop appropriate strategies for the fund raising;
c. To ascertain the persons, communities, facilities and economic assets affected by terror activities;
d. To assess and determine the appropriate support required in each case;
e. To manage, disburse and/or administer support to the victims as appropriate;
f. To address related challenges as may be appropriate;
g. To advise Government on other matter(s) necessary or incidental to support victims of terror activities;
32. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an opportunity for us to prove to the world that evil cannot prevail over good. It is an opportunity to prove that we are our brothers and sisters keeper. We are born to love not to hate; we are born to build and not to bomb; we are born to heal and not to kill; we are born to salvage and not to savage.
33. I thank you for your kind attention. May God Almighty bless our great country Nigeria.
34. I thank you.