Aisha Buhari: The Rallying Cry for IDPs

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Benneth Oghifo

Wife of the President, Haijia Aisha Muhammadu Buhari is playing a pivotal role in saving the lives of 2.5 million malnourished Nigerian children in the North-East. The urgency of the situation is captured in the fact that if these children do not get access to the right nutrition quickly, there is a chance that an estimated 500,000 of them will die of malnutrition by the end of this year. Concerned by the tragic situation facing the nation, Hajia Aisha Buhari recently launched an initiative to save malnourished children faced with certain death. Tagged “Get Involved” the initiative is part of the President’s Wife’s Future Assured program and is designed to provide solutions to problems of malnutrition among children in the country.

The initiative has been designed as a platform of active participation of well-meaning Nigerians, private sector and non-governmental organisations to respond to the alarming outbreak of undernourishment at Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs).

Aisha believes that with the collective effort from the Nigerian Public, no child in Nigeria should lack a good nutritional diet.

“Get involved is a component of Future Assured, my pet project. We decided to launch it to make Nigerians know the magnitude of malnutrition and also to call on well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of those who are suffering from it,” Aisha Buhari said.

Though malnutrition is not new in Nigeria, it has become wide spread and intense due to the activities of Boko Haram in the North East which has resulted in the displacement of millions of people who are no longer able to make a living through their traditional occupation of farming. About five million people have been displaced by the insurgency in the North East with about two million of them taking refuge in IDP Camps.

Explaining the difficult situation on ground, Hajia Aisha Buhari noted; “You know all the women and children that were rescued have all been malnourished, due to the fact that they were cut off from the supply of foods and amenities by the insurgency. So they were unable to feed probably and by the time they were rescued, you could easily see that they have been suffering from severe malnutrition, especially the young children among them.”

The “Get Involved” initiative is unique in that it brings together donors and manufacturers of goods together. It is a platform to mobilise donations from concerned individuals and organisations towards ameliorating child malnutrition in the northeast and across the country. International aid agencies have said that up 1,200 children will die every day if nothing is done to stop the acute malnutrition affecting the region.

“The government cannot be left to solve this challenge alone. It is a collective responsibility which we must all resolve. This platform is being used to create a platform on malnutrition as well as stimulating the patronage of locally produced goods. I appeal to all stakeholders to show a commitment to ending malnutrition.”

The donors will pay for the goods and the manufacturing companies will supply directly to the IDP camps. This creates a win-win situation on several fronts. First, it ensures that the donated items actually get delivered to the IDP camps and also creates a platform for patronage of made in Nigeria goods while providing a credible platform for the individuals and corporate bodies to engage in philanthropy and also show a sense of corporate social responsibility.

The President’s wife explained that the decision to launch the ‘Get Involved’ Initiative is to help those suffering from the moderate level of malnutrition as well as prevent those yet to cross the malnutrition line from becoming victims.

“So we love to use this opportunity to encourage people to join us. We have a nutritional plan but with the recent development and the level of malnutrition, that is why we decided to get involved to help the malnourished mothers and children”

The response has been impressive so. far. Among those that have responded the President’s wife’s initiative are governors and their spouses, ministers, senior government advisers, representatives of charity organisations, celebrities, including Joke Silver and Banky W.

Ace musician Banky W described the Get Involved Initiative as “fantastic” urging all Nigerians to line behind the initiative. The Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul Aziz Yari Abubakar, who is also Chairman of the Governor’s Forum, disclosed at the launch that all Governors have decided to support the programme to ensure that malnutrition among children is stopped.

“All Governors are support this initiative of the wife of the President. We cannot afford to have so many children lose their lives due to malnutrition. I congratulate the wife of the President for this initiative” Governor Abubakar said.

Also the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, who also attended the launch, commended the wife of the President for initiating such a worthy programme.

“It is great that the Get Involved initiative is aimed at addressing malnutrition. All of us, irrespective of party affiliations will join this effort to ensure that we wipe away malnutrition from the country” the Bauchi governor said.

Serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, the Chairman of UBA Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu is also one of those that have also decided to Get Involved in the initiative. Elumelu was recently at the International Conference Centre venue of the programme in Abuja to lend his support. “This is a great initiative. It complements the President efforts for peace in the North East. While the president is bringing peace, his wife is bringing food. This is great” he said.

He also commended the transparency of the initiative due to the fact it does not involve giving money to anyone. “The wife of the President is not asking you for money. She is just saying come and buy these Made in Nigeria goods and distribute to the IDP Camps. I think that is really great. I am going to talk to other private sector players to be part of this initiative. We need to work with her to fulfill the objectives of this initiative” Elumelu said.

Doing a tour of various products on display during the launch of the ‘Get Involved Initiative’, Elumelu said he was impressed with the home-grown supplies on display. “We can do much if we empower local entrepreneurs. I urge others to support this transparent effort by the wife of the president” he noted.

Hajia Aisha Buhari while expressing her appreciation at the visit of Elumelu and his support said “with collective efforts from the Nigerian Public no child in Nigeria should lack a good nutritional diet”.