20th November, 2023
By Cecilia Ologunagba
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale has commended the efforts of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu -led administration to tackle humanitarian crises in Nigeria.
Schmale who spoke in New York particularly commended the launch of the Presidential Humanitarian Trust Fund by Tinubu to address humanitarian crises in Nigeria,
“We welcome that the government under President Tinubu sees it as their responsibility to drive preparedness and response to humanitarian concerns,’’ Schmale said in an interview in New York on his experience working with the Nigerian Government.
He added that the Tinubu-led administration is on track in addressing humanitarian crises in Nigeria, despite some negative statistics in terms of unemployment and an increase in the poverty rate.
Schmale, who was at UN headquarters in New York to attend the Resident Coordinators retreat commended the efforts of the Government of Nigeria on addressing humanitarian crises.
“I think that Tinubu’s administration is on a good track; the President recently launched the Presidential Humanitarian Trust Fund and he is asked at this trust to address humanitarian crises.
“He’s asked that this trust fund is resourced two thirds from within Nigeria, private sector and government, each and a third international community solidarity.
“So, we think that’s the right way to go in Nigeria, despite some desperate indicators around poverty and so on as a middle-income country.
The Federal Executive Council had on October 24 approved the creation of a Humanitarian and Poverty Trust Fund to raise at least a sum of five billion dollars annually.
The goal of the trust fund is to enable the Federal Government to respond promptly to humanitarian situations in the country.
The funds will be sourced from the Federal Government, private and international organisations as well as well-meaning individuals.
According to him, development Agenda is very high for the government and some people will argue you can prevent the fertile ground from combatting violent extremism from growing if you invest in development.
“You will have heard from our leadership, the UN Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary General and around rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.
“The new government is very much up for that. We are urging the international community to take up the request for partnership to rescue the SDG agenda and help them accelerate development.’’
Answering questions on the security situation in the Northeast, he said that the Nigerian military had achieved what they call kinetic success in fighting Boko Haram.
“So, Boko Haram, again, as a summary term is weaker than it used to be.
“Our assessment would be that they cannot sustain the kinds of military campaigns against the military but instead, what they are doing is inflicting violence on civilians, you know their violence has become more unpredictable.’’
The UN envoy said the organisation had been seeing rising numbers of civilians being killed and tortured because they do random attacks all over the place, which also means it’s become less safe for civilians, but also humanitarian, so that hasn’t changed.
In addition, he expressed concern over the instability in Niger that Islamic violent extremist groups from the country might also spread to the northeast Nigeria.
“So right now, North Nigeria I think is relatively safe and protected from those influences as much as it can be but the region itself is not.
“For the UN, I think it’s fair to say the influence of violent extremist groups remains of grave concern,’’ Schmale said.
Schmale, also visited Washington, DC, where he discussed humanitarian, development and peace building challenges and opportunities with interlocutors from the United States.
He met with officials from the U.S. State Department, USAID, the U.S. Institute of Peace, civil society and the media as well as senior staffers from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
He highlighted the troubling humanitarian situation in northeastern Nigeria and the importance of international support and strengthened partnerships to address humanitarian needs, accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and combat violent extremism.
In Nigeria’s northeast, where some 700,000 children are suffering from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, UN colleagues – working in support of the Nigerian Government – have managed to reach 3.5 million people with critical aid – in the areas of food, healthcare and shelter.