By Biola Lawal
Victims Support Fund (VSF) spent N6.7 billion in 2017 on rebuilding infrastructure in areas in the North East of Nigeria, ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency. Part of the fund was also used to empower victims of the insurgency.
VSF Executive Director, Prof. Sunday Ochoche told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that the bulk of the amount was spent on rebuilding schools and hospitals that were completely destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
“Twenty four primary and secondary schools have been rebuilt by VSF’’ along with some general hospitals and local government secretariats which were completely razed by the insurgents, Ochoche told NAN
He said that the rebuilding was done through direct labour with materials purchased from markets in the affected areas as part of VSF strategies to reflate the economy of the states, save cost and achieve high quality project execution.
“When we reconstruct, we try to reconstruct better structures and facilities than those destroyed,’’ the Executive Director said, adding that plans were on to fence the rebuilt schools to enhance protection for the pupils and students.
Ochoche said that about 19,000 women in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states were currently benefitting from the Fund’s economic empowerment programme designed for women whose husbands were killed by Boko Haram, resulting in their becoming family breadwinners.
“We gave them grants through civil society organisations to engage in small scale ventures like cap making ,’’ he said, adding that the partnering civil organisations helped VSF to monitor the women and promote the culture of savings among them.
Some of the VSF women economic cells “now have up to one million naira in their accounts” confirming the increasing success of the VSF savings culture promotion initiative , he told NAN.
Ochoche said that the Fund was also helping to meet the medical needs of victims in the few remaining Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
He noted that the need for substantial health care support for victims as experienced in the previous years of intense insurgents attacks had reduced due to the successes recorded by the military against the insurgents.
The VSF Boss commended the Nigerian military for restoring normalcy in most part of the north east and for providing security support to VSF workers.
Victim Support Fund is a Nigerian Foundation established to cater for victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern part of Nigeria. The Fund is being run by 33 personnel headed by Prof. Sunday Ochoche , the Executive Director.
Ochoche has over 30 years’ experience in the UN system, government and academia.
Between 2006 and 2013, he served with the United Nations as Senior Political Affairs Officer in the UN Missions in Sierra Leone and Darfur, Sudan; Senior Policy Advisor with the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) of the UNDP, New York; and Director of Political Affairs at the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), Mogadishu.
The Fund also has a national Committee with Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), a former Minister of Defence, as Chairman and Fola Adeola, a co-founder of GT Bank as Deputy Chairman, along with several other Nigerian billionaires and prominent politicians as members.