In a demonstration of rare humanitarian gesture among the 9Nigerian public office holders, the immediate past President of the eighth Senate, Bukola Saraki, donated his entire severance allowance to some victims of the Boko Haram insurgency including Leah Sharibu and a trust fund for the children of late senators.
In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki specifically asked Mohammed Sani-Omolori-led management of the federal parliament to ensure that it supports the families of Leah Sharibu with part of the money, which is to be divided into four.
Besides the family of Leah Sharibu, a school girl who is being held by Boko Haram after she and other girls were abducted from Dapchi town in Yobe state, the other beneficiaries include the families of two humanitarian workers abducted and subsequently murdered by the insurgents, Hussaini Ahmed Khoisan and Hauwa Liman.
Ms Sharibu was kidnapped in February 2018 while the aid workers were murdered in October of the same year.
The fourth beneficiaries are children of late members of the Eight Senate who may require financial assistance in furtherance of their education. After deaths of some lawmakers, the Senate in 2018 resolved to establish a Trust Fund to assist their family members.
The statement noted that Saraki’s decision to use the severance package to support the selected victims of the insurgency was based on the fact that their cases represented some of the most touching humanitarian issues debated at the plenary during the four-years of the eighth Senate and on which his colleagues and himself made emotional and passionate speeches.
He decided that 20 per cent of the severance allowance is to be donated to the family of Ms Sharibu while 20 per cent is also to be paid to the family of Hauwa Liman, the aid worker brutally murdered by Boko Haram after she was captured. Another 20 per cent is to be donated to the family of the second aid worker, Hussaini Khoisan, also murdered in the same circumstance by Boko Haram.
The remaining 40 per cent should be used by the National Assembly management to set up a trust fund that will assist children of deceased members of the eighth Senate who are in financial need for their education.
“It is my hope that this trust fund should grow with more contributions from my dear colleagues, present, past and future, who may be moved to put in additional money into it. The clerk of the National Assembly will immediately get an official letter from me mandating him to act as stated above on the disbursement of my severance allowance”, Saraki said.
Severance allowance is a one-off payment to lawmakers who are not returning to the National Assembly. Saraki, in the last general election, lost his bid to return to the Senate in his Kwara Central Senatorial District. The severance package of a senate president is about N7.5 million.
The grieving father of Leah commended Mr Saraki for having the issue of their abducted daughter in mind, despite the end of his tenure as Senate President.
“We thank him, not necessarily because he is giving out money; no. But for the fact that he still has our daughter in mind; and that gives us a lot of hope that Nigeria has not forgotten her.Money is good, but what can be compared to having our dear daughter back in our arms? That means a lot to us”, he said.
About 110 students, including Miss Sharibu, were abducted from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state, after their school was attacked by the Boko Haram on February 19, 2018.
A month after their abduction, the federal government secured the release of 105 of the girls, following what was described by the then Director-General of the State Security Service Lawal Daura as a series of ‘behind-the-scene discussion.’
How we negotiated release of #Dapchigirls – SSS – Premium Times NigeriaThe SSS says six students are still unaccounted for.
Miss Sharibu, who would have been the 106th girl to be freed, was left behind for refusing to denounce her Christian faith. The remaining four kidnapped girls were reported to have died at the hands of their captors, who entered freely into Dapchi town on March 21 to return the freed girls.
In a statement shortly after their release, Buhari pledged to ensure that, “the lone girl was not abandoned. The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home to her parents as it has done for the other girls.
Buhari pledges not to abandon Christian girl held by Boko Haram – Premiu…Boko Haram held Leah Sharibu back for reportedly refusing to convert to Islam.
“President Buhari is fully conscious of his duty under the constitution to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic background or geopolitical location and will not shirk in this responsibility,” the statement signed by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had said.
While we commend Saraki’s humane gesture and urge other Nigerian leaders to toe the patriotic path, it is expedient to appeal to President Buhari to explore the opportunities and fundamentals of his next level administration to secure the release of Leah Sharibu from her abductors. This will not only assuage the feelings of a religious card but also boost Nigeria’s image in the comity of nations