The Sun News

Robert Smith’s good example

The decision of a black American billionaire, Robert Smith, to sponsor the education of the 21 recently released Chibok schoolgirls in some of the best institutions in the world is worthy of commendation.  It is instructive that the offer to educate the girls came from outside the country, and we urge all those who are in a position to offer similar help to deserving causes in the country to do so.  

Smith is already responsible for the education of 24 Chibok girls, including the eight who initially escaped from the insurgents and 16 others from the Chibok community. Some of them, through a special negotiation, are to be admitted into the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Adamawa State. The remaining 194 Chibok schoolgirls who are yet to be found will also benefit from the gesture whenever they are rescued. This, indeed, is a heartwarming gesture.

We praise this generous American citizen and recommend his humanitarian spirit to all well-endowed people in the country and the world. The Boko Haram insurgency which has ravaged our country for several years was a blot on the conscience of humanity.  It rightly behooves all well meaning persons to adopt different ways of assuaging the pains suffered by the girls and helping with their rehabilitation, as Smith has done.

What better way, indeed, can these girls be helped other than by giving them quality education to prepare them for the challenges of life? Education empowers its recipients with the resources to live life to the fullest and surmount life’s challenges. This is why we happily welcome Mr. Smith’s gesture.

We are, however, persuaded that the challenges arising from the devastation of the insurgency go beyond the provision of education for its victims.  In situations where thousands of lives were lost and thousands more displaced from their homes and livelihoods, the needs of the affected citizens and communities are gargantuan. Reports from the numerous Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps already point to their appalling condition.  Because of poor feeding, there are dire cases of malnutrition.  Their environment is also depressing and not quite suitable for human habitation. There have also been reports of all kinds of assaults and rapes of IDPs by the people who are expected to protect them. Their communities have been sacked and devastated. Many of them require total reconstruction of their houses and public infrastructure if they are to become habitable again.

The needs of these areas are humungous. It is good that they are being tackled by the government and other stakeholders, but there is still a need to do much more.  The situation of the IDPs and their communities calls for more acts of charity and self-sacrifice on a personal, governmental and global scale.

Our men of philanthropy and other public-spirited individuals should stand up and be counted now. The task of rehabilitating the North-East is too much for government alone to undertake. All hands must be on deck to bring respite to the victims and their communities. It is also important to expedite the rescue of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls so that they can take advantage of the scholarship offered them by Robert Smith.

The Presidential Task Force for the region must up its ante. Charitable organizations like the TY Danjuma Foundation must increase their commitments too. When we invest in human resource like the American billionaire has done, we invest in the future of our humanity and the returns are incalculable. First, the benefitting individuals count their gains, and then the nation, and all of the global community is improved.

The nation is grateful to Mr. Smith for his very considerate gesture and we reiterate our earlier call on others in the country and elsewhere to borrow a leaf from him.

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