President Goodluck Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello
The hurdle that may militate against financial institutions, federal agencies and other corporate organisations making sizeable donations to the Dangote-Agbakoba Presidential Flood Relief Committee has been removed by the federal government.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced at the fund raising dinner of the committee, tagged: ‘Lend a Helping Hand,’ held at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja that this became necessary in order to encourage them to donate their widow’s might to the alleviation of the sufferings of the recent flood victims.
The sum of N11,075,095,000 was realised from the fund raising with the highest donations of N2.5 billion each coming from Alhaji Aliko Dangote and the apex government.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, many of the banks it regulates and other government ministries, departments and agencies did not reveal what their donations to the committee will be, pledging to go back and hold meetings to ostensibly thrash out issues of tax deductions and ways to scale oversight checks by the lawmakers.
President Jonathan said all donations made by such organisations or bodies will be tax free, adding, “whatever we are raising today is for corporate Nigeria to manage. It is not government. We are not going to play a part in its disbursement. We can only see from a distance and see what is happening. We are not involved.”
Describing the fund raising as the first in a series of its kind that will be organised in the future for the same purpose, the committee urged wealthy Nigerians to contribute to the realisation of the N100 billion target it has set for itself ab initio.
“We expect the state executive councils to make their individual donations and send to the Dangote Committee. We are expecting more from the state governments, the governors, their deputies, commissioners, the secretaries to governments and the heads of service. We are also expecting personal donations,” President Jonathan urged.
At the opening of the ceremony, the president had noted that the magnitude of the flood disaster is “a human tragedy that would melt even the hardest of hearts,” pointing out that it is an “occurrence unprecedented in the annals of the nation’s history.”
Stating that its actual cost is being assessed, Jonathan said his administration, apart from the over N17 billion it has committed in the short-term, has also provided an additional N9.7 billion to the ministry of agriculture and N2.5 billion to the ministry of health to manage some of the consequences of the calamity.
He, however, observed that all these stop gap measures by the government are inadequate, emphasizing that the management of such problems is always beyond the efforts of government at any level.
He, therefore said, government is relying on the generosity of rich Nigerians to tackle the problem.