Why Facebook’s Zuckerberg Should Intervene In Borno’s Humanitarian Crisis, By Christopher Godwin Akaba

As a first step, I would suggest that Facebook rolls out innovative packages and programmes whereby the more than one billion users of Facebook worldwide would be made to identify with the plight of the Borno IDPs through the use of #hashtags…

Good day, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. Glad to know that you were in Lagos, Nigeria.

Although as I write you this letter, you must have left Abuja and be busy attending to your other schedules. But despite your hectic engagements, I hope you will find time to go through this letter of appeal.

Sir, as you might be aware, Borno State is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Since the crisis began six years ago, over 20,000 people have lost their lives and a total of 2.5 million people, mostly women and children, displaced from their homes and presently settling in various IDP camps across the state.

You may also be aware of the humanitarian food crisis facing IDPs in the North-East, especially Borno State, which had prompted the United Nations and its agencies like the World Food Programme, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Organisation of Migration (IOM) etc. in intervening to offer various forms of food and material assistance to the IDPs to complement the efforts of both the Borno State and Federal Government of Nigeria.

Even recently, precisely on Sunday August 28, 2016, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, in company of Paul David Hewson (Bono), an Irish singer-songwriter, musician, businessman, and philanthropist came to Maiduguri to visit the IDPs. They were received by the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima. Dangote and Bono not only came to give the Borno IDPs hope, but also to see how best they could mobilise international goodwill to assist the IDPs in the immediate and long term.

Sir, there’s no doubt that as the Facebook founder and seventh richest man on earth, whatever assistance you may also render to the Borno IDPs will be highly appreciated by Nigerians and the Nigerian government.

Believe me, when I heard that you would be in Nigeria this past week, I thought you would also be visiting the IDPs in Borno State on humanitarian ground, more so that your visit was coming just three days after Bono visited Nigeria.

As co-founder of the ONE Campaign, Bono had described what he saw at some internally displaced persons’ camps in Borno State as deeply disturbing.

According to UNICEF, over one million children have been forced out of school — a consequence that leaves them more susceptible to violence, poverty and child marriages.

Therefore, the role of the social media in mobilising global goodwill for these 2.5 million IDPs cannot be over-emphasised.

When on August 29, 2016 you visited Italy with Priscilla and sat down with the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, you said you “talked about last week’s (Italy’s earthquake) and how the Facebook community in Italy and around the world has come together to help people recover and rebuild.”

When you also visited the Vatican, one of the key topics of discussion between you and the Pope was “how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and make a message of hope arrive, especially to those most in need”.

Sir, with the above assertions, the Facebook community around the world can also help bring hope and assist the Borno IDPs to recover and rebuild their lives and homes.

Therefore, Sir, I would like to suggest that your visit to Lagos, Nigeria and subsequent meetings with Nigerian developers and entrepreneurs (as you have posted on your Facebook wall), should be backed up with innovative and creative solutions that would immediately, and, in the long run, help in addressing the humanitarian crisis currently facing the North-East, particularly IDPs in Borno State.

As a first step, I would suggest that Facebook rolls out innovative packages and programmes whereby the more than one billion users of Facebook worldwide would be made to identify with the plight of the Borno IDPs through the use of #hashtags and a commitment from Facebook that a fraction of its earnings in a day or possibly “One day earnings/proceeds” be channelled to assist the Borno IDPs. What I am trying to say here is that Facebook should donate its one day’s earnings to the course of the Borno IDPs and it will definitely make a difference. Half a bread, it is said, is better than none.

Or, in the alternative, Facebook should activate an “Online Charity Fund” to give opportunity to those around the world among your over one billion users, willing to donate to do so.

To set the ball rolling, as a member of the Facebook community, I am announcing my contribution via this medium. I will be willing to donate $1 out of your over one billion worldwide users and those willing to do so out of the remaining 999,999,999 users can follow suit.

At the close of the Appeal Fund, the funds could be channelled through Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote who, I believe, you must have met in one of your private meetings of billionaires or international functions, if at all. Alhaji Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Foundation has tremendously supported the Borno IDPs and knows exactly where to channel such funds too, which will definitely reach the Borno State Government.

I am positive that Facebook will intervene in whatever way it can to assist the Borno IDPs.

Christopher Godwin Akaba is Special Assistant to the governor of Borno State on Special Duties.

This article was first published by Premium Times

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