In north-east Nigeria, ten years of conflict have left more than 7 million people in dire need of help in the three worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. 1.8 million people are internally displaced. People need food, water, shelter and health services. But with other global crises competing for scarce resources, the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund is today evolving to partner with the Nigerian private sector to mobilize additional resources and ensure more timely and effective lifesaving support for the affected population.
Launched on 15 November, the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund – Private Sector Initiative provides private sector companies and business with the opportunity to contribute to the Country-Based Pooled Fund alongside donor countries. It is the first-ever joint humanitarian fund in which the private sector will join donor countries in providing assistance for humanitarian action. Leading Nigerian companies from the banking, energy, legal and consumer services sectors, among others, will join forces with the United Nations, in support of the Government of Nigeria, with a platform that is a first in the world for humanitarian action. It is a major innovation that will serve as a blueprint for other country-based funds.
“This creative and innovative effort is about leveraging partnerships to help those in need. For me, it is personal, as someone who grew up in Maiduguri, now affected by a crisis that has seen millions displaced and more than 27,000 killed in recent years”, said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed marking the launch of the initiative. “The expectations of the voiceless are really high. We must continue to be relentless in providing people with safety, opportunity and dignity.”
The Initiative gives the private sector a unique opportunity to help alleviate the suffering of Nigeria’s most vulnerable, especially women and children. “I am delighted that the private sector in Nigeria is joining us in supporting the work of the fund”, said UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock. “The NHF is an accountable, result-based programme (…) helping not just deal with the immediate suffering but also helping people recover and build a better life for the future”.
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“I am proud to be a part of this unique opportunity for the private and public sectors to collectively offer solutions to a local humanitarian crisis. The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund-Private Sector Initiative creates hope for our disadvantaged citizens and promotes social development for our dear nation,” said Adewale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive of Oando PLC, one of Africa’s largest integrated energy solutions providers. The initiative aims to not only harness the financial resources of Nigeria’s dynamic private sector, but also the entrepreneurial and innovative expertise of Africa’s largest economy, in a move that will see the country’s private sector working alongside the United Nations and Member States, and also international and Nigerian non-profit organisations who are working on the front lines of the response.
“The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund-Private Sector Initiative presents a unique opportunity to create a blueprint for future private sector engagement in humanitarian action across the globe,” said Mr. Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria. “Investing in the vulnerable people of north-east Nigeria is an investment in humanity that will last for generations. That is business for good.” “Together we – the private sector and the UN – can take meaningful and high-impact decisions and actions, merging our money and our minds, helping our countrymen, and building on progress made so far,” said Jim Ovia, Founder and pioneer Group MD/CEO of Zenith Bank.
About the Initiative
Fourteen companies and groups announced their support for the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund-Private Sector Initiative, and will join to form a Steering Group, the collaborative efforts of which will raise awareness and resources, while promoting innovative solutions, to support humanitarian action in the north-east. The Steering Group, Co-Chaired by Jim Ovia, Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, and Kyari Bukar, of Nigeria Economic Summit Group, include Adewale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive of Oando Plc; Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head Marketing and Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd; Olumide Akpata, Partner, Templars Law; Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director and CEO, Ecobank Nigeria Plc; Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director and CEO, Access Bank Plc; Yaw Nsarkoh, Executive Vice President for Nigeria and Ghana, Unilever Plc; Onyeche Tifase, Managing Director and CEO, Siemens Nigeria Ltd; Dr. Bryant (ABC) Orjiako, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc. Nominated members include Georgios Polymenakos, Managing Director, Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd and Country Manager, Coca Cola Hellenic Group; Kemi Okusanya, General Manager, Visa West Africa Ltd, Oscar Onyema, CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange and Samaila D. Zubairu, President and CEO, Africa Finance Corporation.
The event in Lagos was hosted and sponsored by Oando Plc, and additional sponsorship was provided by Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Access Bank Plc, Unilever Plc and Mr. Samaila Zubairu, President and CEO of the Africa Finance Corporation, enabling a strong start to this collaboration.