Former Minister of Defence, Lt.-General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd)
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Former Minister of Defence, Lt.-General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), has admonished wealthy Nigerians and top public office holders to dedicate part of their earnings towards alleviating poverty in the country.
He said rather than being selfish and self-centred, these crop of Nigerians who have amassed wealth for themselves, should try to give back to the society through investing in projects that would touch people’s lives.
Danjuma gave the advice Wednesday while presenting cheques from TY Danjuma Foundation totalling N180 million to 32 non-governmental organisations to support various rural empowerment projects.
He explained that TYDF has so far spent N809 million to fund various poverty eradication projects in the country.
While expressing his displeasure over the level of poverty and deprivation in the land, the ex-military chief-turned politician wondered what various governments are doing to create employment and assist the rural populace presently being ravaged by hunger and disease.
“I challenge Nigerians who have been graciously endowed to commit to giving back to the society. They should spend less on those SUVs and convoys and spend on ordinary people,” he said.
This year’s TYDF-funded projects will be executed in eight states namely Taraba, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Zamfara, Bauchi, Gombe and Nasarawa.
According to Danjuma, the foundation is targeting three key thematic areas of community health initiatives, education and income generation initiatives, including women and youth empowerment.
Speaking on why no states in the South-east were included as beneficiary states, Danjuma said the foundation is open to all who meets its criteria for funding assistance.
He defended his venture into philanthropy, saying it was based on his desire to see that genuine development and empowerment reaches the people at the grassroots.
He also tried to clear possible suspicion on his source of wealth for the foundation which he linked to proceeds from his offshore oil block acquired more than a decade ago.
“During the inauguration of my foundation, I did explain my source of funding which is from the proceeds of an oil block that is situated nearly 200 km off the country’s shores. For the past 12 or 13 years we have been producing oil in that field and exporting it,” he said.
Danjuma said it was from the proceeds of his oil field that he decided to set aside the sum of $100 million to fund the TYDF.
Earlier, the interim Executive Director of the foundation, Dr. Edugie Abebe, said 17 organisations have been granted funding support ranging from N3 million to N30 million to execute various programmes in capacity-building, skills acquisition, youth and women empowerment and healthcare projects.
She also said another 14 rural community-based organisations in Taraba and Edo States would receive grants totalling N13 million under the 2012 edition.