Abuja — "I never for once thought that I would, in my life time, hear of Nigerians strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up innocent people.We would have sworn that it is impossible. Ten years ago, no Nigerian would have imagined it. We thought it was something that could only happen in other countries. But here we are today witnessing this sordid phenomenon. Even women, who are not known for violence, are now involved. Mr. Chairman, fellow citizens, we will defeat terror and I will lead Nigerians to achieve this."
With the above assertions, President Goodluck Jonathan began another phase of his campaign against terrorism in Nigeria when he led other eminent Nigerians and foreigners to raise funds in aid of the victims of terror in the country.
Speaking at the official launching of the Victim Support Fund (VSF) inside the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday night, the President also remarked that the fact that the fund was being set up was not an admission that terrorism had come to stay in the country.
He said: "The fact that we are setting up a victims support fund does not mean we have accepted that terrorism is here to stay. No! Never! Rather, this is just one of the short-term measures in our overall strategy against the enemies of peace and progress."
Jonathan noted that he understands the worries of many Nigerians about terrorism in the country, which he observed took the nation unawares. But he assured: "We will not allow evil to overcome good. No! We will not!"
Jonathan posited that rather than destroy the spirit and essence of the nation, the terrorists have succeeded in uniting and making Nigerians to see that they (terrorists) are a common threat to all stressing that, "by bombing mosques and churches, they have shown to us that they are enemies to all."
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Victim Support Fund Committee and former minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, revealed that the fund has been established as a full fledged company, adding that Naira and foreign currency accounts have been set up to receive donations from around the world.
He praised Jonathan for his wisdom in setting up the fund and his policy of non-interference in its operation, saying that the committee would jealously guard its independence.
In their respective addresses to the occasion, the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa'ad Abubakar 111 and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, both stressed the need for all Nigerians to support the Federal Government in its bid to rid the nation of terrorism and its negative consequences.
Meanwhile, has expressed appreciation for the kindness of all persons who responded enthusiastically to his appeal for collective action by contributing generously to the Terror Victims' Support Fund during the event.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati in Abuja yesterday, Jonathan said he was overwhelmed by the expression of support, cooperation and solidarity by Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from all walks of life, describing it as a demonstration that the public is genuinely concerned about the threat of terrorism to common humanity and stands ready to support worthy causes and pro-people policies.
Jonathan noted that the overwhelming demonstration of support for the fund has greatly inspired and encouraged the government to continue to adopt every possible measure within its powers to bring terrorism in the country to an end as quickly as possible.
According to the statement, the Federal Government's initial target of N50 billion was exceeded, noting that it was a clear indication of support of the administration's counter-terrorism strategies.
"The President commends the Chairman of the Terror Victims' Support Foundation, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) and members of the Foundation for accepting to serve the nation in this regard. He is confident and convinced that the foundation will make judicious and transparent use of the funds in order to ameliorate the negative impact of terrorism in the affected areas," the statement added.